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The health and safety of adults residing in a North Carolina nursing home facility can weigh heavily on family members. When your loved one’s care is entrusted to someone else, you expect the caretakers to maintain the industry standards for care and behave professionally.

Unfortunately, there are those who take advantage of the physically vulnerable and subject them to abuse. A gentleman in Goldsboro, North Carolina was placed in a resident facility after suffering from a series of seizures. He already operated under limited mental and physical functionality from polio that occurred while he was a child. Once the gentleman went into the facility, severe bruises reportedly began to appear on his body. He informed his niece on separate occasions he was beaten with a shoe and a belt. These allegations, among others, prompted his niece to file suit against the skilled nursing facility.

Young woman walking Elderly womanThe injured party, or family member acting as a representative of an incapacitated or deceased party, may seek compensation from the abusive caretaker through a personal injury or wrongful death suit. The injured or representative can pursue compensation for the injuries or emotional distress that occurred as a result of the abuse. To succeed in a civil claim for battery, there must be proof that the caretaker deliberately engaged in the wrongful act. Aggressive investigation may be needed to show that an injury was not caused by an accident or aggravated medical condition, but resulted from purposely inflicted harm. Compensation for emotional distress may also be available if there was extreme, outrageous behavior by the caretaker who intended to emotionally harm their patient. Proof of the emotional distress is necessary, and can be shown through medical and psychological records.

Negligent care is also sadly prevalent in nursing home facilities. Nursing home owners and operators may be liable for injuries that occur due to the neglect of their employees. Caretakers and facility owners have a duty to maintain a safe and healthy environment for their patients. However, patients are not attended to with the frequency that is required for their conditions, and they are left with bedsores or exacerbated medical problems. Nursing home caretakers are expected to maintain industry standards of care, and records may reflect missed rotations or inadequate distribution or application of medication. Negligence actions require proof that an injury was the result of negligence, and it may be necessary to retain a medical expert. Nursing home residents generally have complicated medical histories and an expert can explain how an injury occurred from neglect and was not the result of an accident or medical condition.

The North Carolina personal injury attorneys at Auger & Auger have nearly four decades of experience litigating personal injury claims. They aggressively pursue fair compensation for your unique injuries while maintaining sensitivity for your situation and needs. If you or a family member has experienced abuse or neglect at the hands of a caretaker, whether in a nursing home, hospital, or daycare, call for a free consultation at (877) 487-0835.

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A North Carolina couple was driving home from a church service when they were hit by a man driving in the wrong lane. The couple was severely injured and died the same day. Police are charging the driver with two counts of felony death by motor vehicle, impaired driving, and driving the wrong way on a dual-lane highway. The driver had previously been charged with driving while impaired three times before, but received only one conviction in 2001.

Facts like these lend to outrage as family and friends cope with the grief of the sudden and tragic nature of their loved ones’ deaths. The driver in this accident will be held accountable in criminal court, but may also be subject to liability in civil court for the wrongful deaths of the deceased couple. North Carolina’s wrongful death statute allows for the recovery of funeral expenses; pain and suffering of the decedent; medical expenses related to the injury that led to the death; society, companionship, guidance, and advice of the decedents to the person(s) entitled to damages; and the net income of the decedent.

Winding road on the coastPunitive damages may also be awarded in addition to the compensatory damages in a wrongful death action. In North Carolina, punitive damages exist to punish a defendant for egregiously wrongful acts and to deter the defendant and others from acting similarly in the future. In order to collect punitive damages in a wrongful death action, the estate of the deceased must first show the defendant is liable for compensatory damages and that an aggravating factor was present that was related to the award of compensatory damages. These aggravating factors include fraud, malice, and willful and wanton conduct.

In your typical personal injury case, the proof of the liability must meet the legal standard of preponderance of the evidence, where it is more likely than not that the injury occurred as a result of the other party’s negligence. The aggravating factors for punitive damages must be shown by clear and convincing evidence, a higher standard of proof. The evidence must be highly and substantially more probable to be true than not true.

A connection must be made between the impairment as the proximate cause of the accident. The condition must have caused the motorist to violate a rule of the road and to operate the vehicle in a manner that was the proximate cause of the collision. Thus, evidence of the impairment is essential in the pursuit of a wrongful death claim. It is important to gather evidence and testimony of witnesses as soon as possible after the accident so that this connection can be established.

The attorneys at Auger and Auger have litigated numerous personal injury actions and have aided several families in their time of need. Herbert Auger and Arlene Auger know that quick, effective action is needed following an accident to maximize compensation, and are available for a free consultation at (800) 559-5741. If you or a family member has been in a car accident and need assistance, call one of our North Carolina wrongful death and personal injury attorneys today.

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Drunk Driver Injures Four In Asheboro Accident, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, November 9, 2012

Boyfriend’s Alcohol Related Accident in Cumberland County Seriously Injures Passenger Girlfriend, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, June 19, 2012

A motorcycle-riding state legislator has joined a long-standing movement to repeal North Carolina’s universal motorcycle helmet law. North Carolina is one of nineteen states that require all riders to wear a helmet. Despite findings published by the CDC that wearing a helmet reduces the likelihood of death by 37%, some insist that the freedom to ride without a helmet should be the rider’s choice. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,544 motorcyclists in 2010 alone. Those who do not wear helmets in a motorcycle crash are more likely to die from traumatic brain injury. A brain injury costs 13 times more than a non-brain injury; the initial bill alone can be $250,000.

Man on MotorcycleIn North Carolina, someone injured in a motorcycle accident can suffer greater financial repercussions due to the state’s theory of strict contributory negligence. If someone was contributorily negligent in any way, even if the other party was more negligent, you cannot recover damages in North Carolina. Although failure to wear a helmet does not constitute contributory negligence in North Carolina, there are other ways motorcyclists can forfeit their right to recovery in the event of an accident.

The legal determination of whether or not there was contributory negligence hinges on when someone fails to act with the same level of care as a regular person would in the same situation. This determination is made by a jury, not a judge, because peers in the community have a better sense of how an “ordinary person” would act in the situation of concern. There is an exception, however. It is called the ‘last clear chance’ and was established by the case Watson v. White, 309 N. C. 498 (1983), where a pedestrian struck by a vehicle had negligently placed himself in a position of peril where he couldn’t escape with reasonable care. The motorist saw, or easily could have seen, the pedestrian and taken measures to avoid hitting and injuring him.

Gross negligence, or wanton and willful misconduct, is also an exception to a bar from recovery when contributory negligence is a factor. If another motorist is driving with reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others, an injured motorcyclist or pedestrian can recover damages, even if they were negligent themselves. Gross negligence in an automobile context has typically been driving drunk, speeding, or racing for both plaintiff and defendant in North Carolina. Young plaintiffs, or plaintiffs with severe cognitive disorders, may also be immune from the contributory negligence bar from recovery because they are not able to operate as an ‘ordinary person’ would in a similar situation.

The experienced North Carolina motorcycle accident lawyers at Auger and Auger know how to sort through complex sets of facts so you can recover the maximum amount of compensation you’re owed. They are undaunted by insurance company defense teams and will aggressively fight against any claim of contributory negligence. If you have been injured as a pedestrian or motorcyclist in an automobile accident, call the motorcycle accident attorneys, Auger & Auger, at (800) 559-5741.

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Recently, the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights received a complaint from a group of current and former students and a former administrator who alleged that hundreds of victims of sexual assault had their cases mishandled at UNC Chapel Hill. The investigation is still ongoing and university officials have denied underreporting sexual assault cases. In general, the federal government and watchdog groups both want campuses to be proactive and aggressive in preventing sexual violence and protecting the rights of the accused.

Sad WomanVictims of sexual abuse may be able to hold their abusers accountable through a personal injury action in addition to actions in the criminal justice system or campus disciplinary process. Even if there is not a criminal case or discipline action, a victim may still file suit for their sexual assault case in North Carolina’s state or federal courts. Each person’s case is unique, and the facts of the event might fall under different legal definitions of sexual abuse. Sexual assault is when someone forcibly engages in sexual activity with you against your will by threats or use of force. Molestation is when someone persists in unwanted sexual advances. Fondling is unwanted touching, and rape is sexual intercourse without consent.

Sexual assault, molestation, rape, and fondling are all intentional torts in North Carolina. Intentional torts are deliberate wrongful acts that cause personal injury or property damage. In an action against the perpetrator, a victim of sexual assault or unwanted touching must show that the person engaged in the behavior and the amount of damage that it caused. It is not necessary to show whether or not the perpetrator intended the consequences or extent of damage caused. Other parties may be held liable for negligence if the perpetrator’s inappropriate behavior was foreseeable. For example, if an employee had a record of violent or inappropriate behavior, and the employer hired them anyway, then they may liable for negligence if the assault or unwanted touching occurred in the workplace.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress is a North Carolina cause of action that is available to those who have been assaulted. Victims must show that the perpetrator was engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct, that conduct was intended to cause severe emotional distress to the plaintiff, and that severe emotional distress resulted from the conduct. Severe emotional distress is much more than temporary fright or anxiety, and may involve medical records to show physical and/or psychological impact. A victim may also wish to pursue this cause of action against other parties, like managers or employers who purposefully aided or concealed the actions of the perpetrator.

Herbert Auger and Arlene Auger are both aggressive North Carolina personal injury attorneys who understand the need for experienced, confident representation in your time of need. Traumatic events like sexual assault come at great personal and financial cost to the victim, and the attorneys at Auger & Auger will work tirelessly to hold the perpetrator and negligent parties accountable for their actions so you are compensated for your injuries. For a free, confidential consultation, call (888) 487-0835.

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An in-home childcare provider was recently arrested for selling prescription medication to an undercover officer out of the same home she used to care for children. She is charged with trafficking in opium and selling a controlled substance at a childcare facility. This incident occurred soon after the North Carolina statute went into effect at the beginning of 2013 expanding the criminal background check requirement for daycare workers. A person working at a daycare must complete a criminal background check in order to work at a daycare, and will now be subject to a background check every three years to ensure that he or she has not obtained any new criminal charges that could make them unfit for child care. An in home child care provider must also have members of their household over 15 checked.

Watch Children SignIn North Carolina a person cannot run or work in a daycare if they have been convicted of any charge of neglect or abuse of children. They also cannot work there if they have been convicted of a sexually violent offense against a minor, also known as a reportable conviction. However, North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services does not completely prohibit workers with a criminal background. An individual may be prevented from being a child care provider if the Department determines that the individual is a habitually excessive user of alcohol, illegally uses narcotic or other impairing drugs, or is mentally or emotionally impaired to an extent that may be injurious to children. It is particularly egregious if the employer lied on a background check or withheld information about themselves or a potential hire. The primary focus is whether that person’s presence could affect the safety and health of the children in care.

A daycare center, regardless of whether it is a large facility or a home provider, is obligated to provide a safe environment for the child. They can be held liable in a civil action if there was gross negligence, wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing, but not for mere negligence if the employer or operator of a child care facility performed the statutorily required background checks. So if an employer or operator knew or should have known that their employee had a criminal background and was prone to behaviors that could endanger a child, and a child was injured because of that employee’s behaviors, then they could be found criminally and civilly liable. For example, if the recently arrested lady was an employee who was hired by a daycare operator who knew of her drug habit and hired her anyway, the owner could potentially be held liable.

The North Carolina day care injury attorneys at Auger & Auger understand that placing your child in someone else’s care is already stressful. That stress becomes tenfold if your child is injured while in the care of another. If your child was injured on the premises of a daycare and you would like a free consultation, contact us online or call us at (704) 364-3361 or (800) 559-5741.

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