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North Carolina Appeals Court Rejects Claim of Governmental Immunity

For injury victims to gain the compensation they deserve after car and truck accidents, they must often run a gauntlet of legal challenges and technical refusals to accept responsibility. Whether the accident resulted in serious injuries or a wrongful death, a personal injury attorney who represents plaintiffs must explore various legal strategies and be ready to defend against procedural diversions.

A recent appeal decided in favor of the injury victim by the North Carolina Court of Appeals considered the issue of governmental immunity. The case involved a traffic accident caused by a Durham County Sheriff’s Deputy who allegedly ran into the plaintiff’s car, causing her injuries.

Prior to trial, the county filed a motion to dismiss the car accident lawsuit, contending that it was immune from damages claims under North Carolina’s sovereign immunity doctrine. This legal concept provides that governmental bodies cannot be sued for the negligence of employees who are carrying out governmental functions.

In cases alleging that a state, county or municipal employee’s negligence caused injury, a plaintiff must be able to show that the government waived immunity. The clearest example of a waiver under these circumstances is the government’s acquisition of insurance against liability for negligent or intentional damage to people or property. Participation in local government risk pools is the same as buying insurance under North Carolina law.

After the trial court rejected the motion to dismiss, the county filed an “interlocutory” appeal, which is a request for clarification of the law before the case proceeds to trial. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision, noting that the court had based its decision on the party’s pleadings and that the plaintiff specifically alleged that the county had purchased insurance, an issue of fact that had not been resolved.

Protecting the Interests of Clients Who Are Harmed in Car Accidents

Accidents with government employees pose special challenges to people who need to recover compensation for lost income, medical expenses and property damage. That said, every personal injury case can present issues that require careful handling and a sound legal strategy. A car accident lawyer can help clients understand every aspect of the legal process from the outset.