North Carolina Court of Appeal Reverses Summary Judgment for Defendant in Wrongful Death Case Involving Toddler

Wrongful death accidents are a devastating occurrence for any family, but they are particularly traumatic when the victim is a child. Although no amount of money can truly compensate you for the loss of a child, it can help you cope with the expenses that result from medical treatment, burial, and more. At Maurer Law, our seasoned team of North Carolina wrongful death attorneys is ready to assist you with holding someone responsible for the unnecessary loss of your child.

Recently, the North Carolina Court of Appeals considered a claim in which a five-year-old child died when an overloaded dump truck engaged in an uncontrolled roll and struck him while he was playing near his home. Evidence provided in the case showed that the dump truck was left unattended with the engine running and without the wheel chocks engaged. The dump truck was at the location as part of a home construction site near the home of the decedent’s family.

The estate of the decedent brought a lawsuit against a number of parties including the real estate developer who designed the neighborhood on the basis that the developer maintained a duty to develop a safety plan, to reduce harm to residents from construction accidents, and to conduct inspections even though it sold lots to independent builders. The real estate developer responded by filing a motion for summary judgment on the basis that it did not owe a legal duty to the decedent. The lower court granted the motion and the plaintiffs appealed.

On review, the appellate court reversed the grant of summary judgment. First, it rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the developer had a legal duty to monitor and inspect construction work after selling lots to builders and rejected the argument that the developer failed to take precautions against negligent construction work. The appellate court did conclude, however, that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the developer failed to sequence and manage construction on the hilly terrain in a way that limited the risk to bystanders downhill from foreseeable roll-away accidents.

Specifically, the plaintiffs offered testimony from experts about various hazards and risks associated with roll-away accidents on hilly construction sites. They also testified about what a reasonably prudent developer would have done, such as undertaking a safety analysis and sequencing construction accordingly or performing grading to make subsequent construction safer. Assuming this evidence is true, then the developer would have owed the decedent a duty of care and potentially breached that duty.

If you have lost a family member or loved one in an accident, you should speak to an experienced wrongful death attorney in North Carolina as soon as possible to learn more about your legal options and rights. At Maurer Law, we have seen firsthand how traumatic and life-altering a situation like this can be for a family. Let us deal with the legal aspects of the situation so that your family can properly mourn and cope with the stress of this unimaginable situation. We will fight diligently for the outcome that you deserve. Call us now at 844-817-8058 or contact us online to get started.

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