Slip and fall accidents can happen virtually anywhere, leaving you with painful injuries and crushing medical expenses. In general, North Carolina law holds a property owner responsible for any injuries that happen as a result of his or her negligent care of the property. But when the property owner is a government entity, a different set of rules applies regarding whether or not the government will be held liable. This is known as the sovereign or governmental immunity doctrine, and it is critical to know whether it will be a factor in your slip and fall case. At Burton Law Firm, our lead attorney handles North Carolina slip and fall cases and is prepared to assist you with evaluating your potential right to compensation.
In a recent North Carolina appellate court opinion, the Supreme Court was ultimately asked to decide whether a city was immune from liability for a slip and fall injury that the plaintiff suffered. The defendant leased the property where the plaintiff lived to a variety of businesses and groups. In the lease documents, it was specifically stated that each defendant bore the responsibility for maintaining the exterior areas of the property. It also stated that the government had the right to visit and inspect the property without notice.
The plaintiff was hurt when she was exiting the building through one of the rear doorways while carrying a large bundle of items. She alleged that she lost her balance and fell down steps on a portion of the stairway that she described as having eroded. As a result of the fall, she broke her hip and suffered other injuries. The plaintiff named the city as a defendant and alleged that it had waived its ability to assert the government immunity doctrine when it purchased liability insurance for the property. She also alleged that the government could not claim immunity because it was engaged in a proprietary function, which is not covered.