Personal Injury Questions

What is a personal injury case?

Often when people hear the term “personal injury case,” they think of an automobile accident. Automobile accidents are only one type of personal injury case. The lawyers at Copeley Johnson Groninger PLLC have successfully litigated many cases involving injuries caused by automobile and truck accidents. We have also had great success on behalf of our clients who have suffered injuries from other causes, such as industrial explosions, product failures, electrocution, assault and because of negligent security systems.

What is a class action lawsuit?

A class action is a lawsuit in which a group of plaintiffs with a common interest sue one or more defendants, naming a representative in place of the entire group. Examples in recent news are tobacco industry suits and the suits against manufacturers of medications such as fen-phen that have caused widespread injury. The lawyers at Copeley Johnson Groninger are experienced in class action litigation in personal injury, employment, civil rights and consumer protection litigation.

What is negligence?

Negligence is the failure to act reasonably. It may mean doing something carelessly or failing to do something you have an obligation to do, i.e., driving without your headlights on.

What are punitive damages?

Punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant, above damages awarded as compensatory and actual, i.e., injuries or medical care. Punitive damages may be awarded in the presence of malicious, willful or wanton behavior on the part of the defendant.

What are compensatory damages?

Compensatory damages are awarded over and above medical costs and lost wages, specifically for the emotional suffering and the physical pain a victim incurred.

What is contributory negligence?

Contributory negligence is a common defense to a negligence claim, in which the defendant argues that the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to his or her injuries. Proof of contributory negligence in North Carolina will prevent the plaintiff from collecting damages. North Carolina is one of only a few states that still allow contributory negligence as a defense.

What is an intentional tort?

An intentional tort is conduct intended to harm a person or property. Examples include assault, fraud, misrepresentation and slander.

I slipped, fell and injured myself at the department store. Am I entitled to damages?

Possibly. You must first prove the department store either created the hazardous situation or had previous knowledge of it and failed to respond appropriately. If you can prove both these things, the amount of your “award” will be directly related to your injury, medical costs and loss of income. Any contributory negligence will bar recovery.

How is negligence determined?

Negligence is not simply a wrongdoing. All of the following elements must exist for an act to be negligent:

  • the defendant owed plaintiff a duty of care
  • the defendant breached that duty
  • the defendant’s breach injured the plaintiff
  • defendant’s behavior was a proximate cause of the injury to plaintiff
  • damages, based on harm of a legally recognized kind

What is the statute of limitations in a civil case?

Generally, the statute of limitations in negligence cases is 3 years from the date the incident occurred. In wrongful death cases, however, the statute of limitations is 2 years. Because statutes of limitations may vary depending on the case and the jurisdiction, you should never assume a particular statute of limitations applies to your case without first discussing the details of your case with a lawyer. You should never wait until you are near the statute of limitations date before contacting a lawyer, as it will take time for an attorney to investigate the case and prepare a complaint.

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