North Carolina Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment for Real Estate Developer in Wrongful Death Case involving a Minor

When a wrongful death accident takes place, the outcome is devastating and unimaginably painful for the loved ones left behind. This is especially true when the victim in the wrongful death accident is a child. If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligent conduct, then you may be entitled to compensation. There is no amount of money that can truly repair the hurt that your family has endured, but it can help you deal with the financial impact of the accident including medical expenses, funeral expenses, and the loss of your loved one’s companionship. Raleigh wrongful death lawyer Jason Burton is prepared to help you and your family secure the compensation that you deserve.

In a recent opinion, the North Carolina Court of Appeal assessed the liability of a real estate developer for the death of a child as the result of a dump truck accident. The child was playing near his home when a dump truck participating in construction across the street began to roll and struck him. The operator for the dump truck was not in the vehicle, the chocks were not engaged, and the dump truck was overloaded. The estate for the child brought negligence claims against a number of parties including the developer. It alleged that the developer was negligent by not creating a safer plan for construction of homes in the development. The developer sold individual lots to builders who then engaged in the construction of homes on those lots. The complaint also alleged that the developer did not uphold its duty to minimize any harm to the residents from construction activities.

In response, the developer filed a motion for summary judgment stating that it did not have a duty to the deceased child and could not be held liable for his death. The trial court granted the developer’s motion. On appeal, the North Carolina Court of Appeals concluded that the developer had no duty to oversee the construction activities once it sold a lot to an independent builder and that it was not required to prevent any negligent construction activities from happening on those sites.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals ultimately reversed the grant of summary judgment, however, finding that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether or not the developer took appropriate steps to manage the sequence that construction took place on the sloped terrain in the development in a way that would minimize harm to individuals who lived downhill from pending construction.

According to expert witness testimony, there are many hazards that can result from roll-away accidents on construction sites on sloped terrain. The expert further testified that a reasonably prudent real estate developer would have made sure that a safety analysis was performed, and that construction was sequenced in a way that minimized potential harm to residents in the development. If this testimony regarding the real estate developer standard of care is true, then the developer may have breached its duty.

If you lost someone you love in an avoidable accident, wrongful death attorney Jason Burton is prepared to help you fight for your right to compensation. Available to serve clients in Raleigh and throughout North Carolina and Virginia, Attorney Burton provides a free consultation to discuss your situation and the legal options that may be available to you. Contact him today at 833-623-0042 or online to get started.