HOW LIABLE IS A LANDOWNER?
Judge Ervin reminds us that a bad injury
on your property does not necessarily mean
you are liable for that injury.
Well, Halloween is just around the corner, and dozens of little ghouls and goblins will be coming into your driveway and up your sidewalks. As I have written before in LEGAL TRENDS, there are some common sense safety "tricks" that can promote Halloween safety to help prevent injuries, and you should of course use them.
Even if something bad happens, though, the North Carolina Court of Appeals just last month reminded us all that a property owner is not always liable for bad injuries that occur to a visitor, even one invited for business purposes.
In an opinion written by my Davidson classmate from way long ago, The Honorable Sam J. "Jimmy" Ervin (bribe me with a big, bold cabernet and I might tell you some not so "honorable" stories), the appellate court upheld the local ruling by Mecklenburg Judge Yvonne Mims Evans that the Plaintiff had not established exactly what duty the Defendant had breached that supposedly led to his injury.
The case is Burnham v. S&L Sawmill, Inc, et al. (COA12-1581, filed Sept 3, 2013), and it provides a good overview and explanation of basic common law, and the delicate balance regarding a landowner's rights and responsibilities. The facts involved crippling injuries to a dump truck driver who visited a sawmill to untie and deliver lumber...
READ MORE...on the DaisleyLawBLAWG.
ANOTHER TOUGH ISSUE: BAD DAMAGES,
INADEQUATE INSURANCE COVERAGE
Earlier this year, I blogged about one very difficult case involving a hit-and-run driver who caused devastating harm to my client, and posed a ton of challenges in finding resources that might be available to make up for that harm. (North Carolina has some very sketchy
|A quick overview of what to do if there's inadequate insurance coverage|
rules regarding coverage for hit-and-run drivers, and on top of that my young client lived with separated parents. You can hear more about such laws in the video
Well, there are times when inadequate coverage can be used to a plaintiff's advantage if done properly. At a recent mediation involving a drunk
driver injuring my client, we were able to use the threat of getting a verdict in excess of the defendant's insurance policy limits. The defendant was present and heard about the real threat of having to pay out of pocket if the jury's award included a substantial amount for punitive damages. The insurance company paid a higher amount than it wanted, in part, to avoid any possibility of an excess verdict and a possible bad faith claim.
Finally, as I've mentioned before, I am delighted to hear from you on any matter involving the law (or anything else for that matter). Even If I can't help directly, I'll still pour you a cup of coffee, and tell you what I (don't) know.
Michel C. Daisley
Litigation Attorney & Certified Mediator
2412 Arty Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28208