North Carolina Court Upholds Dismissal of Action Involving Injured Elderly Patient Due to Improper Pleading as a Negligence Claim

Injury accidents can take place virtually anywhere, including in a hospital. If you believe that you were harmed as a result of someone else’s negligence, then it is essential that you speak with a competent North Carolina personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to understand and protect any legal rights that you may have.

One aspect that an attorney can assist you with is determining the appropriate venue and method for asserting your rights. In a recent appellate opinion, a North Carolina court discussed whether a plaintiff’s cause of action was properly based in medical malpractice or personal injury. In the lawsuit, a hospital patient was injured during a fall while undergoing an x-ray examination. The plaintiff asserted a cause of action for ordinary negligence. During discovery, however, the evidence indicated that the fall happened when the technician operating the x-ray machine was rendering specialized services that required skill and clinical judgment. As a result, an issue arose regarding whether the plaintiff should have brought the claim as a medical malpractice action, which would have required compliance with certain procedural rules.

The plaintiff was an elderly woman who was brought to the hospital by her daughter on the day of the accident. The mother had been experiencing chest pains after suffering a fall several days beforehand. She had a history of falling as a result of her lack of steadiness and she frequently requested assistance to walk. At the emergency room, the personnel determined that a chest x-ray was appropriate. She was transported to the radiology room in a wheelchair. The technician asked the elderly woman whether she would be able to stand for the procedure and she indicated that she believed she would be able to stand. Once she stood up and walked a few steps, the technician indicated that she seemed stable so he turned around and walked a few steps away to position the equipment. It was at that time that he turned around to observe the elderly woman falling backward, resulting in a severe traumatic brain injury.

The brain injury rendered her unable to communicate. Her family brought a negligence action against the hospital and associated personnel involved in the incident. The plaintiffs’ complaint included many different descriptions of how the defendants acted with negligence towards the elderly woman. The defendants eventually filed a motion for summary judgment which the trial court granted. The plaintiffs appealed.

On review, the court concluded that summary judgment and dismissal of the claims was appropriate because the cause of action sounded in medical malpractice and not basic negligence. As a result, the plaintiffs were required to file their complaint in accordance with specific North Carolina rules governing medical malpractice actions.

If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury as the result of someone else’s lack of care, you may be entitled to compensation. At Maurer Law, we are well versed in various types of legal actions in the State of North Carolina, which means we can assist you in ensuring that you bring your legal action in an appropriate and efficient manner. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online.

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