Haeco leaked confidential employee information for 3,000 employees
Tunstall selected to 2015 List Nation's Top One Percent
Tunstall named Super Lawyer 2015 Personal Injury
Joe Tunstall has been selected to the 2014 North Carolina Super Lawyers list for Personal Injury. He was previously selected to the 2012 and 2013 North Carolina Super Lawyers Rising Stars list. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.
Our entire office would like to wish our clients, staff and the communities in which we work a safe and happy Holiday. Please be extra vigilant this time of year due to busy roads and dangerous stores. We hope to see you all doing well in the new year. Holiday Wishes from Susan and Joe
When injured by a driver that did not have a valid drivers license is the fact the defendant was not licensed admissible at trial? Meet Joe Tunstall, head of our Personal Injury Section. In Swicegood v. Cooper, 341 N.C. 178 (1995), the NC Supreme Court held that evidence of Plaintiff's poor driving record was admissible to prove contributory negligence by negligent entrustment, denying the in limine motion. In Thompson v. Three Guys Furniture Co., 122 N.C.App. 340 (1996), the court held that the status of an individual's driving credentials generated issues of material fact sufficient to withstand a summary judgment motion in a negligent entrustment action. In Dwyer v. Margano, 128 N.C.App. 122 (1997), the court again held that the status of an individual's driving credentials was a genuine issue of material fact. In this case, the fact that Margano had a up to date foreign driver's license was not sufficient to show that his rental car company should not have trusted him with the car. In Tart v. Martin, 353 N.C. 252 (2000), the NC supreme court wrote that "negligent entrustment is established when the owner of an automobile entrusts its operation to a person whom he knows, or by exercise of due care should have known, to be an incompetent or reckless driver" 353 N.C. at 254 (quoting, Heath v. Kirkman, 240 N.C. 303, 307 (1954)). In all four cases the driver's ability to operate a car, from both a skill and a licensure perspective, were admitted as evidence for a variety of reasons. Whether the fact that a defendant did not have a license appears to be fact specific as to admissibility. The courts appears to have given specific gravity to the reason for the admissibility and what it is being used to prove. Therefore, fair or not, it appears that whether a court allows the defendant's failure to even have a valid driver's license only is admissible if there are other evidence of bad driving in the past. If you have injuries from a car accident and have questions, feel free to visit our website.
In an issue of first impression, the NC Court of Appeals recently ruled that the State Health Plan has a lien that must be paid out of any third party recovery and failure to so pay could result in the attorney having to personally reimburse the state. In other words, an injured party who has health insurance through the State of North Carolina as an employee of relative of a state employee must reimburse the Health Plan out of any injury claim and their attorney is charged by law with doing so. Failure of the attorney in paying the lien could result in the attorney having to pay the money. In The NC Health Plan v. Barnett, NC COA12-999, the Court held, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 44-50 (2011), places an affirmative duty on an attorney for an injured party to retain the full amount of a medical provider's lien before disbursing settlement proceeds. NC Supreme Court has acknowledged that an attorney who violates this duty is subject to legal liability for the amount of the lien under the statute. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 135-45.15 similarly places a duty upon an injured party's attorney to direct settlement funds recovered by an injured State Health Plan member to plaintiff in satisfaction of its statutory lien. The attorney mistakenly argued that his client ordered that the funds be disbursed in that manner. He cites North Carolina State Bar Ethics Opinion RPC 69, which states that "[a]lawyer is generally obliged . . . to disburse settlement proceeds in accordance with his client's instructions. The only exception to this rule arises when the medical provider has managed to perfect a valid physician's lien." North Carolina State Bar RPC 69 (October 20, 1989). This opinion by the State Bar does not excuse the attorney's actions. Instead, the opinion clearly acknowledges that, regardless of a client's instructions, an attorney cannot ignore a valid statutory lien, a physician's lien under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 44-50. An attorney likewise cannot ignore a valid State Health Plan lien under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 135-45.15 when disbursing settlement funds, regardless of his client's wishes. The issues in lien disbursement have become unduly burdensome and difficult to properly follow. You may be better off hiring an attorney to assist you as they are responsible for properly disbursing disbursing the money after you settle or win a judgment. Call us today if you have any questions regarding your automobile injury claim. Personal Injury Attorney -- Joe Tunstall
Joe Tunstall was named to North Carolina's Super Lawyer North Carolina Rising Stars list as one of the top up-and-coming attorneys in North Carolina for 2013 in the area of Personal Injury. Joe was also named to the list in 2012. Super Lawyer Rising Star -- Joe Tunstall Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the eligible lawyers in the state receive this honor. Joe a native of Washington, NC lives in Tarboro with his wife Lisa and daughter Lilly and practices in the area of personal injury, workers' compensation and social security disability. Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a rigorous multi-phased process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area. The Rising Stars lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers magazines and in leading city and regional magazines across the country. For more information about Super Lawyers, go to http://www.superlawyers.com/north-carolina/ . For Joe Tunstall's Rising Star profile click Joe Tunstall Rising Star Super Lawyer. The first Super Lawyers list was published in 1991 and by 2009 the rating service had expanded nationwide. In February 2010 Super Lawyers was acquired by Thomson Reuters the world's leading source of intelligent information for business and professionals. Joe Tunstall is glad to review or discuss your personal injury or workers' compensation claims.