Medical Malpractice Reform Law in North Carolina Slashes Jury’s Award

Medical Malpractice Reform Law in North Carolina Slashes Jury’s Award

Medical Malpractice Reform Law in North Carolina Slashes Jury’s Award

Charlotte, NC Personal Injury Lawyer

In a medical malpractice case out of Fayetteville, a North Carolina statute that was designed to discourage medical malpractice lawsuits will reduce a $7.5 million damages award by a jury to a medical malpractice plaintiff to $3.5 million. The jury reached its verdict after a two-week trial in Cumberland County Superior Court, but the state law passed in 2011 will cut the recovery for so-called non-economic damages, according to a local news report.

Negligent Medical Care

This case arises out of a mistake that the defendant, a local Fayetteville surgeon, made during colon surgery that left a leaking hole in the patient’s bowels in 2010. The leaking bowel resulted in severe infections. Over the next four months the plaintiff endured lengthy hospital stays, a six-week coma, and three more surgeries because of the infections. The plaintiff also received poor follow-up care from the surgeon and her primary care physician, and she will continue to require constant medical care for the rest of her life.

At trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff with $3.24 million for her financial expenses and losses and an additional $4 million in non-economic damages for disfigurement, permanent injury, pain and suffering, etc. Additionally, the jury awarded damages to the plaintiff’s husband for $300,000 for loss of consortium.

Tort Reform Law

In 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill to reform medical malpractice liability. The bill, among other things, would cap non-economic damages for patients in medical malpractice cases at $500,000. Non-economic damages are damages meant to compensate for pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, and any other nonpecuniary, compensatory damage. The only time that an award of damages may rise above this cap is if the jury finds that the medical provider acted recklessly, in a grossly negligent manner, fraudulently, or with malice. Proponents of the law argue that the cap will lower the cost of malpractice insurance, especially in high-risk medical specialties like obstetrics and neurology. They believe the law will lead to lower health-care costs and more access to doctors in rural areas. However, opponents contend that it should not apply to measurable injuries like paralysis, brain damage, or death because the cap would apply to lost earning potential. Additionally, some argue that the cap is unconstitutional because citizens have a right under the North Carolina constitution to have a jury make a determination regarding the amount of compensatory damages, including non-economic damages, in civil trials.

In this case, the jury found that the doctors were negligent but did not decide that their actions rose to the level of recklessness, gross negligence, or that that they acted with malice. Therefore, under the new law, the $4 million portion of the jury’s award is blocked, and the judge has to reduce that award to $500,000.

If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice and are seeking compensation for your injuries, the attorneys at Bice Law, LLC can help you seek a remedy against negligent medical providers. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

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Charleston Wrongful Death Suit Pedestrian Accident

Wrongful Death Suit Filed in Charleston Pedestrian DUI Accident

Fort Mill, SC Personal Injury Lawyer

According to a Post and Courier article, the father of a Citadel graduate who was the victim of a drunk driving pedestrian accident has filed a wrongful death suit naming the alleged drunk driver, the establishment that served the driver alcohol, and the security company that provided security guards to the parking garage where the drunk driver parked his vehicle as defendants. The suit was filed in Charleston County Circuit Court last September.

Multiple Defendants

According to the suit, the deceased individual was struck by a car driven by Allen Lee Gilliam Jr., who also faces criminal charges for driving under the influence and is awaiting trial. On the night in question, Gilliam attended a party and was served alcohol by Icebox Bar, Inc., a catering company who was named in the suit. Gilliam left the party and took more than an hour to navigate the two-block distance between the venue and the parking garage where he had parked his vehicle. He acquired his vehicle but was too intoxicated to leave the garage. The suit indicates that video surveillance showed Gilliam slumped over his steering wheel by the pay station in the garage. He was unable to leave until a security guard, employed by Universal Protection Service LLC, which was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, manually opened the gate so that Gilliam could leave.

Shortly after driving away, Gilliam’s car swerved off the road and slammed into the deceased individual, causing him to be thrown off the side of the overpass. The authorities measured Gilliam’s blood alcohol level ninety minutes after the accident, which registered at more than twice the legal limit in the state.

Company’s Duty of Care

In addition to naming Gilliam, the suit also names the catering company, Icebox Bar, and the security company that employed the parking garage security guard, Universal Protection Service LLC, as defendants. The suit claims that Icebox failed its duty of care to the deceased individual by continually serving Gilliam alcohol even after he was visibly intoxicated. In South Carolina, plaintiffs may bring “dram shop” claims, which are claims of negligence against a bar, restaurant, or liquor store that sold or provided alcohol to a visibly intoxicated drunk driver before a crash that causes injuries or death. These dram shop claims have been recognized in decisions by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

As for the security company, the suit claims that Universal Protection was negligent in failing to oversee and or train the security officer to handle an intoxicated driver in a parking garage. Third party liability in this case would be based on whether the security company had a duty to train security officers in how to manage intoxicated drivers.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver in an accident, you may have claims not only against the drunk driver but third parties who failed to exercise their duty of care, such as alcohol-serving establishments. The attorneys at Bice Law, LLC can help you navigate the complexities involved in these types of cases. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law:

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

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Defective Medical Device Litigation in South Carolina

Defective Medical Device Litigation in South Carolina

Charlotte, NC Personal Injury Attorney

An article reported that a wrongful death suit was filed in South Carolina federal district court by a plaintiff against Gyncare, a medical manufacturing company that produces morcellators. The lawsuit challenges the use of the Gynecare Morcellex, a device used in minimally-invasive procedures where a surgeon chooses to cut apart reproductive tissue before removing it through a laparoscopic incision, either during a laparoscopic hysterectomy or myomectomy.  The plaintiff alleges that during this process, the morcellator causes the spreading of microscopic bits of biological tissue into other areas of the body. If the surgical patient has undiagnosed uterine cancer, this cancerous debris can be spread by the morcellator during fibroid surgery and decrease the long-term survival of patients.

In this case, the deceased individual went through a surgical procedure to remove three uterine fibroids. The surgeon performed the removal using the Gynecare Morcellex. After a pathological examination, the fibroids removed were later determined to be malignant.

Wrongful Death Caused by Product Defect

At the center of the wrongful death lawsuit is the plaintiff’s allegation that Gynecare, as the manufacturer of the morcellator, had a duty to warn patients and surgeons of the dangers of using the product, which it failed to do. The plaintiff asserts that, but for the surgeon’s use of the product, the decedent’s cancer would have remained encapsulated in her uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes, and would not have spread throughout her body. Allegedly, the deceased individual was found to have cancer cells in areas around her abdomen and uterus and passed away a year after the procedure once the cancer spread to her brain.

Under South Carolina statutes, wrongful death is defined as one that is caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another. A plaintiff must first prove that the defendant had a duty of care that it subsequently breached. Here, the plaintiff alleges that Gynecare had a duty to warn regarding the dangers of the use of its product and that because it failed to warn users, Gynecare breached that duty and that contributed to the patient’s death.

Punitive Damages in South Carolina

The plaintiff in this case is seeking punitive damages damages and claims that Gynecare was reckless in its actions. Notably, the FDA issued an advisory last year warning that when morcellators are used on women with undiagnosed uterine cancer, there is a risk that the procedure will spread the cancerous tissue throughout the body, thus significantly worsening the patient’s likelihood of long-term cancer survival. In South Carolina, the law allows plaintiffs to seek punitive damages if they can prove that the wrongful act or neglect was the result of recklessness, willfulness, or malice. These damages are intended to punish and serve as a deterrent.

Litigating defective product claims involves complex questions of fact and law, which become even more complicated when sought in the context of medical devices. A myriad of expert and scientific testimony are necessary to prove one’s case. If you believe you have a claim for wrongful death due to a defective medical product, the attorneys at Bice Law, LLC may be able to help you seek compensation. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law:

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

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Boating License Issue Raised in South Carolina

Boating License Issue Raised in South Carolina

Charlotte, NC Personal Injury Lawyer

According to a news report, a lake association has raised the idea of establishing a mandatory operator’s license for boaters in order to improve safety conditions. Herb Burnham, executive director of the Lake Hartwell Association, indicated that boater education is the only good answer and that mandatory licensing requirements are the best means of enforcing that. South Carolina has 485,000 boat owners, and a total of 108 boating accidents were reported in 2014, resulting in 58 injuries and 28 deaths. However, several Republican legislators have indicated that they are skeptical about the merits of a boating license requirement and that a firm link must be established between licensure and saving lives before they consider a new tax to be imposed.

Only a few states require boaters to have an operator’s license. Alabama requires boaters to acquire a license since 1997, and in Indiana, only those with driver’s licenses are allowed to operate boats. In neighboring Georgia, anyone born on or after January 1, 1998 must complete a boating safety court to lawfully operate a motor boat on state waters.

Boating Requirements in South Carolina

In South Carolina, boat operators under the age of 16 must complete a boating safety course approved by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to operate a boat with a 15-horsepower motor or greater, unless he or she is accompanied by an adult 18 years or older. additionally, vessels are prohibited from operating in excess of idle speed within 50 feet of an anchored vessel, wharf, pier, dock, or a person in the water, and may not operate in excess of idle speed within 100 yards of the Atlantic coastline. Additionally, operators involved in boating accidents have to report the accident to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources if it involves loss of life, loss of consciousness, medical treatment, disability in excess of 24 hours, or property damage.

General Boating Rules

While operating on a boat on South Carolina waterways, there are certain basic rules of navigation that operators must abide by when encountering other vessels even if there is no “right of way” over other vessels.

If you are operating a powered vessel, you must give way to anchored or disabled vessels, vessels that are restricted in their ability to maneuver, such as a vessel laying cable or towing another boat, or a large ship in a channel, commercial shipping boats, and a sailboat under sail. Additionally, jumping the wake of a passing boat, or riding too close to another boat, creates the risk of an accident.

Thousands of vessels operate on South Carolina waterways, and boating accidents occur with too much frequency. They can be extremely dangerous accidents, with the potential for serious and even fatal injuries. Those injured in boating accidents may hold operators liable for injuries if they were negligent in the operation of their vessels. You should contact the attorneys at Bice Law, LLC if you or a loved has been injured in a boating accident to help you seek compensation for your injuries. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law:

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

 

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Tractor Trailer Crash Closes Interstate

Tractor Trailer Crash Closes Interstate 40 in Guilford County, NC

Fort Mill, SC Personal Injury Lawyer

A tractor trailer carrying 25,000 pounds of baby formula crashed into a bridge pillar in Guilford County, according to a news report. The crash caused miles of delay and resulted in the closure of I-40 East for several hours. The driver was able to get out of the truck before it was engulfed by flames. The driver, Randall Scott, has been charged with reckless driving. He apparently told highway patrol that he had a medical condition and blacked out before striking the bridge pillar.

Truck Driver Medical Conditions

The health of the driver is one of the many different factors in determining why truck accidents occur. Commercial truck drivers have to meet certain health qualifications in order to obtain and keep a commercial driver’s license and ensure that they are healthy enough for the job. They are required to obtain and maintain a medical examiner’s certificate that provides details about any health conditions they may have, and if they fail to update this certificate every three years, their commercial driver’s licenses may be revoked.

Driving large trucking rigs is a rigorous job that puts a strain on drivers’ health. Some of the health conditions prevalent among long-haul commercial drivers are obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Additionally, obese and diabetic drivers also have a higher chance of hypertension and other vision and hearing issues. This may play a role in determining who is liable for injuries caused by a tractor trailer.

Medical Conditions and Vehicle Accidents

There are certain medical conditions that can affect a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. These conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, poor eyesight, and seizure disorders, may result in limitations being placed on an individual’s driver’s license depending upon severity. If the impairment is severe, it can be a determining factor when trying to ascertain the liability of an individual who is involved in a vehicle accident.

Generally, if a person knows that he or she has a medical condition that may strike at any time while driving, then he or she may be held negligent if an accident occurs. However, there are preexisting medical conditions that go undiscovered until after the accident. Someone who has never experienced the symptoms of a medical condition might be able to claim the defense of a sudden emergency and be able to mitigate or entirely avoid liability for an accident. This requires extensive medical documentation, and being able to prove it in court often requires a lot of complex evidence and expert testimony.

Drivers are required to exercise reasonable care when getting behind the wheel of a car. This becomes an even greater responsibility with tractor trailers because they can cause severe to fatal injuries if involved in a crash. This reasonable care includes being aware of any health conditions and acting accordingly. If you have been injured in a truck accident and believe that it was caused by the negligent actions of the truck driver and/or the trucking company, the attorneys at Bice Law, LLC may be able to help you seek compensation. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

 Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law:

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

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