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Case Type:  85 year old patient run over by personal vehicle operated by corporate companion care provider-severe pelvic fractures

Lawsuit Filed:  Yes – Buncombe County

Liability Issues: Defendant alleged that Plaintiff had signed a full release of any and all claims arising from the use and operation of any vehicle by its employee pursuant to engaging its companion care and transportation services. The Plaintiff challenged such purported release as being void and unenforceable based on North Carolina public policy as applied by the appellate courts. After Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss such defense regarding the purported release, in conjunction with filing a comprehensive legal brief in support of Plaintiff’s argument, the Defendant agreed to dismiss the defense.

Defendant further alleged that it was not negligent because its employee had used reasonable care in operating the Plaintiff’s vehicle and that the Plaintiff otherwise was contributorily negligent.

Damages Issues:  Plaintiff required trauma hospitalization and an extended stay at a rehabilitation hospital and incurred medical expenses of approximately $50,000.00. However, he further alleged that due to his traumatic injuries his need for additional home companion care services increased causing him to incur additional, unexpected expenses. The Defendant alleged that such services otherwise had been expected prior to the Plaintiff’s traumatic injuries.

Summary: An employee of the corporate Defendant presented to the Plaintiff’s residence at an Asheville apartment complex to provide companion and transportation services. The Plaintiff and the employee, along with the Plaintiff’s wife, walked from the Plaintiff’s apartment unit to the adjacent parking lot in order that the employee could transport the Plaintiff and his wife on personal errands via the employee’s use of the Plaintiff’s car. According to the Plaintiff, the employee stated she could not get the car to go in reverse, so he agreed to get out of the car and see if he could help. According to the Plaintiff, he walked around the car as the employee exited the driver’s seat, and immediately saw that the parking brake was engaged. He contends he reached into the car, pulled the brake lever, and, suddenly without any warning, the car began to move backwards, knocking him to the pavement as the front left wheel rolled over his torso and pelvic region.

The Plaintiff alleged that the employee had exited the car with the gearshift in the reverse position without his knowledge. The employee alleged that the Plaintiff actually entered the car, sat in the driver’s seat, released the brake, and then tried to exit after the car began moving backwards, thereby contributing to the cause of his injuries. Plaintiff disputed the employee’s version of the events. Plaintiff counsel argued that the employee was negligent not only by leaving the vehicle running with the transmission in reverse, but ultimately failing to instruct the Plaintiff not to exit the car under such circumstances of which only she was aware.

Resolution Date: January 2017