North Carolina Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment in Car Accident Claim where Plaintiff was not Provided Sufficient Notice

When you are hurt in a motor vehicle collision, you can bring a civil claim to recover compensation for your injuries from the person who caused that accident to happen. Although this may seem like an easy process, there are many rules that apply, and the proceedings can become complex. On top of the substantive rules that dictate when someone is allowed to recover compensation, there are numerous procedural rules that state how things must be filed, dates for filing, and more. Attorney Jason Burton is a seasoned North Carolina car accident lawyer. He is available and ready to assist you with ensuring that your claim for compensation is handled appropriately.

Recently, the North Carolina Court of Appeal considered whether a lower court used the right procedures when determining whether to grant a defendant’s motion for summary judgment. In the claim, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant injured her through negligent driving and by causing a car accident to occur. The defendant claimed in response that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent and also sued the plaintiff in an action seeking damages.

Before trial, the lower court received motions from both parties. The defendant stated that the plaintiff had yet to provide a list of expert medical witnesses whom she intended to call at trial. The defendant filed a motion to exclude the plaintiff from testifying about the injuries that she sustained and related medical expenses unless the plaintiff offered testimony from a medical expert who can opine about them. The plaintiff rejected this, arguing that she could testify to her personal knowledge experiencing treatment and being billed for the treatment.

After going off the record for several moments, the court concluded that the medical bills would not be allowed into evidence. The defendant moved for summary judgment and the lower court granted it. The court agreed with the defendant that without any medical evidence to support her claim, the plaintiff could not show that the defendant’s negligent driving was the direct and foreseeable cause of her injuries.

On appeal, the appellate court reversed, finding that the plaintiff did not have proper notice and adequate time to respond to the motion for summary judgment. Under Rule 56(c), the party moving for summary judgment must give at least 10-days’ notice to the responding party. This ensures that the responding party will have enough time to evaluate the motion and prepare a response if desired. In most cases, the non-moving party will prepare an opposition brief providing argument to the court about why the motion should not be granted. The plaintiff did not waive this notice period, so the lower court erred by granting summary judgment.

If you suffered injuries as a result of someone else’s careless and inattentive driving, then it is important for you to receive the compensation you need to cover your medical bills and expenses. Experienced North Carolina car accident lawyer Jason Burton offers a free consultation to help you learn more about the legal system and what pursuing compensation would involve. To schedule an appointment, call him today at 1-833-623-0042 or contact him online to get started.