In the wake of Hurricane Dorian hitting our state, this post discusses NC Natural Disasters and Personal Injury. Please be safe out there!
Mother Nature can sometimes be unkind and even deadly. Unfortunately with hurricanes and floods, bodily injuries and property hazards are going to happen. But who is responsible for these injuries during a natural disaster?
NC Personal Injury cases arise when you are harmed by the negligence of another. Negligence is when a person does not use reasonable care and this results in an injury or death of another. NC uses the doctrine of contributory negligence which basically states that the victim must not have been at fault to recover for their injury (but see Last Clear Chance Doctrine).
Negligence is key to determining if you can recover for your injury during a natural disaster. Did the person who caused the accident in which you were injured fail to use reasonable care or were they a victim of extenuating circumstances? For example, if someone is driving too fast while attempting to evacuate from the storm’s danger and causes an accident, he will be liable for his negligence. However, if someone causes an accident because he is forced to swerve into your lane of travel to avoid an object blown onto the roadway by hurricane force winds, he will likely not be liable for your injuries because of the Sudden Emergency doctrine.
In addition, because it is likely that there will be fallen trees, scattered debris, and possibly even downed power lines lying about in the aftermath of a hurricane or flood, you must be extra aware when entering a property that would usually be free from such hazards.
If you are hurt on a property because of these obviously dangerous conditions, you may be found contributorily negligent and barred from recovery because you should have been aware of the risk. Conversely, if you are hurt on a property because of non-storm related conditions and through no fault of your own, you may still be able to recover for your NC personal injuries.
During natural disasters, such as the approaching Hurricane Dorian, everyone must use reasonable care under the circumstances in order to avoid injuring others and themselves. When in doubt, play it safe. Avoid speeding, driving into standing water, driving on bald tires, and going onto properties where you are unsure if it is free from danger.
The Bishop Law Firm represents victims with NC personal injury claims. We hope that you never need us, but if you do we are here to help. We hope that everyone affected by Hurricane Dorian stays safe.