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Posts tagged "personal injury trial"

PI: Injured and now my Hospital wants to sue me rather than take my health insurance.

Often people first call our office out of concern over payment for large medical expenses as a result of an automobile collision that was not their fault.  The law in North Carolina after the passage of HB542 and SB 586 has changed and only a portion of any bill, that amount that is neccessary to satisfy a medical bill, is admissible to prove evidence of medical expenses. Rule 414 Evidence of medical expenses. Evidence offered to prove past medical expenses shall be limited to evidence of the amounts actually paid to satisfy the bills that have been satisfied, regardless of the source of payment, and evidence of the amounts actually necessary to satisfy the bills that have been incurred but not yet satisfied. In the real world, many clients debate whether or not to use their health insurance to pay their medical bills after an injury.  They don't want to use the insurance because it was not their fault, they are afraid of higher premiums and don't want to have the hassle of filing the insurance.  Often, many hospitals take that decision away from the patient by refusing to bill the health insurance regardless of whether the patient would like it billed or whether the patient has already paid for health insurance that should pay the bill. Many insurance companies, such as Medicare, are secondary payors.  That means they pay only if no one else pays.  However, even Medicare states that when a bill is left over 120 days it shall become primary and pay.  In these situations, insurance such as Medicare of the State Health Plan is entitled to obtain reimbursement for all the bills paid by them by the third party at the end of the case. Regardless of the reimbursement provisions (called subrogation) many hosptials take the decision away from the injured party and refuse to bill the person's health insurance hoping for a greater recovery from the at fault party in the collision.  However, the hospital doesn't take the risk of the patient recovering the amount from the at fault person's insurance, instead they often make claims against and sue the patient for the unpaid bill, even though they could have accepted the insurance. The Charlotte Observer has recently written a series of articles on these not-for-profit hospitals suing uninsured persons for their unpaid medical expenses.  Articles.  Another article by the Charlotte Observer even references a veteran with tri-care insurance whom they sued because they could not properly bill the insurance.  Article 2.  In another article Duke University failed to properly code an insurance bill and hired a collection agency to hound and call repediatly a couple who had proper insurance.  Article 3. Forbes Magazine has chosen to call this the Tort-Reform for Hospitals.  In their article they describe that not-for-profit hospitals are obtaining significant benefit from directly suing their patients rather than working with the insurance companies or using low paying health insurance such as Medicaid. Our clients, and many other persons injured through no fault of their own  should worry.  Just because you have been financially stable and smart, it will not prevent  

Automobile Injury in North Carolina: Types of Automobile Insurance

Most people are aware there is a requirement that to have an automobile in North Carolina you must carry at least minimum liability limits. The North Carolina Liability Insurance Requirements for Private Passenger Vehicles requires to meet the required minimum limits coverage that you must have at least the following amount of insurance protection: $30,000 of coverage for injuries or death involving one person in a single accident. $60,000 of coverage for injuries or deaths involving two or more people in a single accident. $25,000 of property damage coverage. This minimum liability coverage comes into play when you are the at fault driver in a motor vehicle collision in which there is bodily injury or property damage. With medical bills for a simple Emergency Room in the range of $1,500 to over $2,000.00 on average depending on the condition the $30,000.00 limit an be quickly exhausted. Many people also carry medical payment coverage. Medical payment coverage (med pay) is no fault insurance covering the owners or passengers in a vehicle regardless of fault reimbursing medical expenses and lost wages. It is often some of the cheapest and most useful insurance coverage and can be typically sold in amounts from $500.00 to $25,000.00. Higher amounts are sold by some companies. Joe Tunstall describes automobile insurance from an attorneys prospective. In North Carolina drivers and owners of vehicles are also required to carry uninsured motorist coverage. N.C.G.S. 20-279. Uninsured motorist coverage provides insurance when the at fault driver is driving a motor vehicle without current liability insurance. The limits for uninsured motorist coverage range from North Carolina minimum limits of $30,000.00 per person to $1million. Of course the price is dependent upon amount of coverage purchased. In case of a serious injury where the other person carries some amount less than the amount to reimburse for the damages, you can purchase underinsured motorist coverage. N.C.G.S. 20-279.21(b)(4). Underinsured motorist coverage is typically some amount between $50,000.00 and $1 million in coverage. Undersinsured motorist coverage is paid when the injury is greater than the amount of the defendants liability coverage and you have purchased an amount of coverage greater than the defendant's insurance coverage.  

Personal Injury: I was not at fault and injured, why do I have to release my unrelated Medical Records to the Insurance Defense Attorney?

Whether you must hand over to the defense lawyer your medical records unrelated to the injury you sustained in this accident is often a case specific decision.  In fact, a case by case determination is the way the North Carolina Supreme Court decided this issue should be handled.   In most cases the physician-patient privilege prevents disclosure of medicals records to others.  The physician-patient privilege is rooted in public policy to "encourage the patient to fully disclose pertinent information to a physician so that proper treatment may be prescribed, to protect the patient against public disclosure of socially stigmatized diseases, and to shield the patient from self-incrimination."  Crist v. Moffatt, 326 N.C. 326, 389 S.E. 2d 41(1990). Our Supreme Court has declined to hold "the physician-patient privilege is waived whenever a patient files a lawsuit in which his physical condition is an element of the claim or defense."  Cates v. Wilson, 321 N.C. 1, 361 S.E. 2d 734 (1987).    Instead, our Courts have held that the question of waiver is "to be determined largely by the facts and circumstances of the particular case on trial."  Cates v. Wilson, 321 N.C. 1, 361 S.E. 2d 734 (1987). The physician-patient privilege is statutory. N.C.G.S. 8-53.  This statute protects the information given to your physician unless that information is "necessary to a proper administration of justice."  N.C.G.S. 8-53.  In North Carolina the physician-patient privilege exists "so long as the patient insists on it" and a trial court has not compelled disclosure to necessitate "a proper administration of justice."  Cates v. Wilson, 321 N.C. 1, 361 S.E. 2d 734 (1987), Crist v. Moffatt, 326 N.C. 326, 389 S.E. 2d 41(1990), N.C.G.S. 8-53. Therefore often a hearing must take place when a defendant wants prior medical records to determine whether it is reasonable to waive the privilege protecting them.  If a Judge determines that the defendant's interest in obtaining the records is "necessary to a proper administration of justice" then the records must be turned over regardless of the thoughts of the injured party. Often there is a separate, yet equally important issue, who is going to pay to order and obtain these prior records for the Plaintiff's physicians?  As the legislature and the courts have recently established that the costs to be awarded to the winning or prevailing party are limited to N.C.G.S. 7A-305(d)(10) and (11) and as the statutory costs of procuring medical records are clearly outlined in N.C.G.S. 90-411; these costs are not included in the recoverable costs statute.  Therefore, a Plaintiff may have to pay to obtain their own prior records and then may not be reimbursed even if they win the case.  This result seems wrong - the defense should be required to pay the statutory costs of obtaining the medical records pursuant to N.C.G.S. 90-411.  As there is a clearly denominated amount to obtain the medical records that the legislature has stated is reasonable in nature  N.C.G.S. 90-411 then it is only reasonable that the Defendants pay to obtain said records as this cost should be added to N.C.G.S. 7A-305(d)(10) and (11).

Social Security Disability Attorney's Fees: The Law

Social Security must approve any fee agreement between a representative and a claimant.  42 U.S.C.A. §406.  At the administrative level, the fees are usually charged on a contingency fee basis or through a fee petition to the Social Security Administration. In order for a contingency fee contract to be approved, it must state that the attorney's fees are to be no more that 25% of the back due benefits or $6,000.00 whichever is less.  The current cap on attorney's fees is $6,000.00.  Social Security can adjust the cap for inflation. Fee agreements will not be approved if a claimant appoints more than one representative from the same firm and all of the representatives do not sign the same contract; the claimant has more than one representative from different firms; a representative withdraws before Social Security makes a decision or the Federal Court reverses the Social Security denial and awards benefits. (POMS §GN 03940.001). If a contract cannot be approved, then a representative must submit a fee petition.  In addition to filling out the fee petition form, a representative should attach proof of the amount of time spent in the case. Most case management software allows practitioners to keep up with their time.  It would be a good idea to do this in all cases so when a fee petition is necessary, the time report can be easily generated and attached. If Social Security withholds the attorney's fees for payment directly to the representative, then there will be a user fee charge of  6.3% of the attorney fee, whichever is less.  (42 U.S.C.A. §406(a); 69 Fed. Reg. 387, Jan. 5, 2004 and Social Security Protection Act of 2004, P.L. 108-203 §301, 118 Stat. 493 (2004)). If an attorney appeals a case to Federal Court after the final administrative denial of benefits by Social Security and the appeal is successful, then the attorney can apply for appellate attorney fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA).  The petition for fees under EAJA must allege that the Plaintiff has a net worth of less than two million dollars ($2,000,000.00), the rate and the amount of the fee requested and itemized statement of time spent in the case and that Social Security's defense of the case was not substantially justified.  Charles Hall, Social Security Disability Practice, §6:81, 2005 ed. p. 260 (citing Duggan, Attorney's Fees Pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act, 25 Soc. Sec. Rep. Serv. 635, 648 (1989) (WESTLAW: SSRS database, ci (25+5 634))). The United States Attorney representing Social Security has sixty (60) days from a judgment to file an appeal. Hodges - Williams v. Barnhart, 221 F.R.D. 595 N.D. Ill., (2004) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(a)(1)(B)).  If Social Security does not appeal, then Plaintiff's counsel has thirty (30) days after Social Security's sixty (60) days has past to submit an EAJA petition. Id.  (citing 28 U.S.C.A. §2412). The Federal Court will review the EAJA petition.  In their review of the petition, the Court will give deference to a contingency fee agreement between the attorney and the client as well as consider the attorney's experience in Social Security, time spent, and the result.  Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789 (2002).

Spoliation: when Defendants Destroy Relevant Evidence

A defendant or at fault party cannot destroy evidence.  It is the duty of a party not to take action that will cause the destruction or loss of relevant evidence that will hinder the other side from making its own examination and investigation of all potentially relevant evidence.  McLain v. Taco Bell Corp., 137 N.C. App. 179, 527 S.E.2d 712, disc. review denied, 352 N.C. 357, 544 S.E.2d 563 (2000). Spoliation of evidence is not a new concept and a party's duty to protect material evidence has been considered valid for 100 years in North Carolina jurisprudence.  See, Yarborough v. Hughes, 139 N.C. 199, 209, 51 S.E. 904, 907-08 (1905). Spoliation of evidence is where a party is on notice of a claim or potential claim, destroys or negligently loses the evidence that is relevant to the non-spoliator's allegations.  McLain, 137 N.C. App at 186-187, 527 S.E.2d at 717-718. "Where a party fails to introduce in evidence documents that are relevant to the matter in question and within his control . . . there is a presumption, or at least an inference that the evidence withheld, if forthcoming, would injure his case."  Jones v. GMRI, Inc., 144 N.C. App. 558, 565 (2001) (cert. granted 354 N.C. 218, 554 S.E.2d 339 (2001); cert. improvidently allowed 355 N.C. 275, 559 S.E.2d 787 (2002)), citing Yarborough v. Hughes, 139 N.C. 199, 209, 51 S.E. 904, 907-08 (1905). A jury instruction on spoliation of evidence is required and failure to so instruct is reversible error when a party demonstrates that: (1) the spoliator was on notice of the claim or potential claim at the time the evidence was lost or destroyed; and (2) the missing evidence was relevant to the non-spoliator's allegations.  McLain, 137 N.C. App. at 186-87, 527 S.E.2d at 717-18. The law requires the trial court to instruct the jury on the law arising from the evidence presented.  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1A-1, Rule 51; McLain, 137 N.C. App. at 182, 527 S.E.2d at 715; Lusk v. Case, 94 N.C. App. 215, 216, 379 S.E.2d 651, 652 (1989).  When a party requests a specific instruction, correct in itself and supported by evidence, the trial court must give that instruction.  Calhoun v. Highway Comm., 208 N.C. 424, 426, 181 S.E. 271, 272; McLain, 137 N.C. App. at 182, 527 S.E.2d at 715.  Thus, if there is evidence that the spoliator was on notice of the claim or potential claim at the time the evidence was lost or destroyed, and the missing evidence was relevant to the non-spoliator's allegations, the failure to give the spoliation instruction is reversible error.  See, McLain, 137 N.C. App. at 186-87, 527 S.E.2d at 717-18. In the unpublished case of Elliott v. Food Lion the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that the admission of certain depositions was relevant to the issue of spoliation where Food Lion had failed to follow their own policies and procedures to secure relevant videotape and pictures. UNPUBLISHED Elliott v. Food Lion, L.L.C., 605 S.E.2d 742 (N.C.App. Dec 21, 2004) (WESTLAW, NO. COA03-1705). Thus, a party that attempts to destroy or hide evidence in a case to protect itself merely creates a later problem.  The punishment for withholding or destroying evidence is a presumption that the withheld or destroyed evidence WOULD have helped the other party.

Introducing O'Malley Tunstall, PLLC: New Name same great Injury and Disability Firm

Susan O'Malley and Joe Tunstall are pleased to announce that their firm has been renamed: O'Malley Tunstall, PLLC. We have a new name for our firm; but we will continue to offer small firm service with large firm capability.  Susan and Joe look at this name change as a way to move forward into 2012 in a positive way keeping our focus on client service and at the same time solidify to our clients the continued existence of this hard charging injury and disability law firm. Susan O'Malley, who is a Board Certified Social Security Disability Lawyer by the North Carolina State Bar, will continue to run our Social Security Disability Section here at O'Malley Tunstall, PLLC.  Susan, whose resume as a disability attorney while extremely impressive, only touches on her true value to her clients as her experience handling Social Security claims is unmatched.  Susan continues to be available for referral or consultation for other attorneys in the area of Social Security disability law.  Prior to focusing her practice on Social Security and Disability law Susan successfully handled workers' compensation claims and jury trials for our injured clients, including being co-counsel on several multi-million dollar verdicts. Our automobile injury and commercial truck injury section will also continue to be lead by Joe Tunstall.  Joe has extensive jury trial experience representing the injured and disabled.  He has tried to verdict and judgment cases from $1 to $5,500,000.00.  Joe is available for consultation or co-counsel arrangements for injury cases. In addition to our automobile and commercial truck injury section, Joe manages our personal injury litigation and workers' compensation sections.  He actively associates with attorneys both within and outside of North Carolina for injury claims and handles referrals for all levels of litigation. Both Susan and Joe continue to be active handling client's appeals in the North Carolina Court of Appeals, North Carolina Supreme Court, Federal District Court and Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Often Susan and Joe handle client's appeals without the appeal  costing the client any additional attorneys' fees.  Give our office a call and one of our attorneys will explain how. Therefore, if you have an injury or disability case, take a look at our firm or give us a call as one of our knowledgeable attorneys will answer your question.  O'Malley Tunstall, PLLC will continue a great tradition of client service.

Can Facebook or Other Social Media Affect My Case?

Can Facebook or Other Social Media Affect My Case?

Bitten by a vicious dog? North Carolina dog bite cases

In North Carolina dog bite cases are common and the injures can be severe.  The old rule in North Carolina was that absent a leash law violation; there must be a prior violent action by the dog before there could be any recovery for a dog bite.  The law as set out below establishes what what must be shown to recover. "To establish the liability of the owner or keeper of a domestic animal for injury done to a human being there must be evidence that the animal had previously indicated its dangerous propensities and the owner or keeper had knowledge of it. But notwithstanding the old adage about every dog "being entitled to one bite," a dog bite victim does not have to show that the dog bit someone else earlier; he only has to show that the dog had demonstrated its vicious inclinations by trying to bite someone and that the owner or keeper had knowledge of it. Hill v. Moseley, 220 N.C. 485, 17 S.E.2d 676 (1941). "Knowledge of one attack by a dog is generally held sufficient to charge the owner with all its subsequent acts." 4 Am.Jur.2d Animals Sec. 95, p. 343 (1964). Finally, the wrong or fault in such cases is the keeping of a dangerous animal and liability does not depend upon proof that the owner was negligent in permitting it to run loose or in letting it escape, Hill v. Moseley, supra, though permitting a dangerous animal to run loose is certainly a circumstance to be considered in determining whether the tort was aggravated.  Hunt v. Hunt, 86 N.C. App. 323, 327, 357 S.E.2d 444, 447 aff'd, 321 N.C. 294, 362 S.E.2d 161 (1987)"  The law has continued to change and knowledge of the general propensities of dogs have now been found to be enough.  In other words, a pitbull that has been trained to kill or injure need not have previously bitten or attacked as the case below points out. "Initially, we note this Court has observed that "not all actions seeking recovery for damage caused by a domestic animal need involve the vicious propensity rule," Griner v. Smith, 43 N.C.App. 400, 407, 259 S.E.2d 383, 388 (1979), generally described as a strict liability type of determination relying upon "proof of vicious propensity and knowledge by the owner." Id. at 406, 259 S.E.2d at 387. Further, we have explained that in circumstances other than those concerning vicious propensity, [t]he owner of a domestic animal is chargeable with knowledge of the general propensities of certain animals and he must exercise due care to prevent injury from reasonably anticipated conduct. Id. at 407, 259 S.E.2d 383, 388. In Williams v. Tysinger, 328 N.C. 55, 399 S.E.2d 108 (1991), moreover, our Supreme Court discussed a mother's claim to recover medical expenses after her minor child was kicked in the head by a horse. Id. at 56, 399 S.E.2d at 109. Accordingly, the issue of the owner's negligence therein was not dependent upon the owner's knowledge of any vicious or dangerous propensities of the horse. Nonetheless, the Court held the owner was chargeable on a claim of negligence with knowledge of the general propensities of the horse, including "the *55 fact that the horse might kick without warning or might inadvertently step on a person." Id. 8 Although no case in this jurisdiction has invoked the Williams rule where the domestic animal was a dog, we conclude that application of the rule is appropriate on the facts herein.  Hill v. Williams, 144 N.C. App. 45, 54-55, 547 S.E.2d 472, 478 (2001)" Therefore the standard currently in North Carolina is in order to recover for a dog bite the dog need either have a vicious history or be of a breed that is known for viciousness.  A labrador retriever who has never previously bitten is still difficult to recover from the owner.  As dog bites are often vicious and dangerous the above law sets forward what is the basics to recover.

Medical Expenses in Automobile Cases: New Law

As of October 1, 2011 many citizens of North Carolina will no longer be able to recover the full value of their medical expenses if they are injured in an automobile collision.  The North Carolina General Assembly has passed HB542 and SB 586 and it is now the law in North Carolina.  Rule 414 Evidence of medical expenses. Evidence offered to prove past medical expenses shall be limited to evidence of the amounts actually paid to satisfy the bills that have been satisfied, regardless of the source of payment, and evidence of the amounts actually necessary to satisfy the bills that have been incurred but not yet satisfied. This legislation hurts the average middle class citizens who works and has health insurance by giving any negotiated write-off between their health insurance company and their doctor to the at-fault party.  This change allows an injured person to only put on evidence of the actual amounts PAID on the bill regardless of who paid.  If the victim of any negligence is hard working and has as a result of their job health insurance the at fault person such as a drunk driver gets the benefit of this hard work and is allowed to reduce the amount submitted to the jury by the amount of the insurance reduction. One easy example is when a state employee is injured in a car collision and goes to the emergency room and to their primary physician for several visits they have "incurred" $2,500.00 in medical expenses. Under bill vs. paid, the amount the State Health plan has negotiated as a reduction with the hospital and the other providers in exchange for the provider getting paid by the health plan would come out of the amount. Of the $2,500.00 20% would be "paid" or owed by the state employee as a deductible and 80% would be the responsibility of the state health plan. Due to the amount of bills that are paid by the state health play the plan may only have to pay 50% of the 80% to satisfy that debt in full. Under bill vs. paid the state worker would not be able to present the 30% reduction to the jury as an incurred medical expense as it would not be actually "owed", the state worker would STILL have to pay the state health plan back out of any recovery the 50% they "paid" for the medicals.  The unreasonable portion of this bill is that those without health insurance recover the full amount of the bill with no reductions.  In reality the only one who benefits is the automobile insurance company.  The short answer is that it is not good for the victim and quite frankly the only benefit is for the insurance company who represents the drunk driver and whose identity in North Carolina is never mentioned during trial. Yes, that is correct, if the defendant drunk driver has auto insurance who will pay his bill, it is against the evidence rules to mention that during a trial, but the fact that the injured person is hard working and has purchased their own insurance is admissible...  Thus, if you or a close friend or relative has the misfortune of being injured in North Carolina after October 1, 2011 the one who injured you will be granted some of your benefits.

Contributory Negligence: Why in North Carolina a Green Light is not enough.

Have you ever driven through a green light in North Carolina?  Ever wondered how in North Carolina you can have the green light and someone can run a red light, severly injure you, and still not recover for your injuries?  North Carolina is one of a handfull of states that clinges to the antiquated notion of contributory negligence as a complete bar to recovery for negligence.  In other words if by your own actions you contribute one percent and the defendant is 99% at fault you still cannot recover in North Carolina for your injuries.   This is not new law.  In 1955 the Supreme Court of North Carolina looked at these issues in the Hyder case. Hyder v. Asheville Storage Battery Co., 242 N.C. 553,  89 S.E.2d 124 (1955).  In Hyder, the Court looked at what duties are owed regardless of whether you have a legal right to enter an intersection.   "Unquestionably it is the duty of the driver of an automobile approaching a street intersection, when faced with a municipally maintained traffic signal showing red, to stop before entering. It is also true that if faced with a green light the driver is warranted in moving into the intersection unless the circumstances are such as to indicate caution to one of reasonable prudence. Notwithstanding the driver is faced with green light, however, the duty rests upon him to maintain a reasonable and proper lookout for other vehicles in or approaching the intersection." Hyder v. Asheville Storage Battery Co., 242 N.C. 553, 556, 89 S.E.2d 124, 127-28 (1955).   The Court went on to state: 'The fact that the operator of a motor vehicle may have a green light facing him as he approaches and enters an intersection where traffic is regulated by automatic traffic control signals does not relieve him of his legal duty to maintain a proper lookout, to keep his vehicle under reasonable control".  Hyder v. Asheville Storage Battery Co., 242 N.C. 553, 557, 89 S.E.2d 124, 128 (1955).   The Court was clearly concerned about people automatially relying on the then very unreliable traffic control devices.  Although our deices have improved with technology, human error or the lack of the same is still an issue.  Even in 2011 we are still having courts in North Carolina trying to decide where the bright line is to absolve someone of responsibility for the negligence of others.   In the Bass case, the Court of Appeals, in an unpublished decision did a good job tracing the evolution of the need or lack thereof for contributory negligence.   "The fact that the operator of a motor vehicle may have a green light facing him as he approaches and enters an intersection where traffic is regulated by automatic traffic control signals does not relieve him of his legal duty to maintain a proper lookout, to keep his vehicle under reasonable control...." Bass v. Lee, 255 N.C. 73, 79, 120 S.E.2d 570, 573 (1961) (quoting Funeral Service v. Charlotte Coach Lines, 248 N.C. 146, 102 S.E.2d 816 (quoting Cox v. Freight Lines, 236 N.C. 72, 72 S.E.2d 25); citing Williams v. Funeral Home, 248 N.C. 524, 103 S.E.2d 714; Shoe v. Hood, 251 N.C. 719, 112 S.E.2d 543). However, "in the absence of anything which gives or should give him notice to the contrary, a motorist has the right to assume and to act on the assumption that another motorist will observe the rules of the road and stop in obedience to a traffic signal." Strathopoulos v. Shook, 251 N.C. 33, 36-37, 110 S.E.2d 452, 455 (1959) (quoting Cox, supra). Thus, the mere fact that plaintiff failed to observe traffic conditions east of the intersection is insufficient to establish that plaintiff was contributorily negligent as a matter of law, since "[w]hether such failure to look was a proximate cause of the collision depended upon whether, if he had looked, what he would or should have seen was sufficient to put him on notice, at a time when plaintiff could by the exercise of due care have avoided the collision, that defendant would not stop in obedience to the red light." Id. at 37, 110 S.E.2d 452, 110 S.E.2d at 455 (citing Currin v. Williams, 248 N.C. 32, 102 S.E.2d 455). As a result, the Supreme Court and this Court have held that evidence tending to show that a driver who entered an intersection in reliance on a green light while traveling at about 15 to 20 miles per hour and collided with a driver who entered the intersection against a red light while traveling at 35 to 40 miles per hour and who was approximately 100 feet from the intersection at the time that the plaintiff entered the intersection, Id. at 37, 102 S.E.2d 455, 110 S.E.2d at 456; that a driver who entered an intersection in reliance on a green light while looking ahead into the intersection rather than "sideways" and traveling at about 15 to 20 miles per hour collided with a driver who entered the intersection against a red light, Currin, 248 N.C. at 35, 102 S.E.2d at 457-58; that a driver who entered an intersection in reliance on a green light, after looking both right and left without seeing anything, and collided with another vehicle that entered the intersection at 35 to 40 miles per hour, Wright v. Pegram, 244 N.C. 45, 48-49, 92 S.E.2d 416, 419 (1956); and that a driver who entered an intersection in reliance on a green light without looking to his left, particularly given that his view was blocked by a school bus, and collided with another vehicle, Seaman v. McQueen, 51 N.C.App. 500, 504-05, 277 S.E.2d 118, 120-21 (1981), does not establish the existence of contributory negligence as a matter of law. See also Cicogna v. Holder, 345 N.C. 488, 489-90, 480 S.E.2d 636, 637 (1997) (stating that the issue of contributory negligence should not have been submitted to the jury when "[t] he only evidence presented was that the plaintiff had the green light and was struck by the defendant, who violated the red light."). Instead, the appellate courts in this jurisdiction have simply held that such evidence is sufficient to support the submission of a contributory negligence issue to the jury, with the jury given the responsibility for determining whether any contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff barred his or her recovery. Bass, 255 N.C. 73, 120 S.E.2d 570 (holding that evidence tending to show that a driver who entered an intersection when the controlling traffic signal was green and made no effort to avoid a collision despite being warned that another driver had "run" a red light and was about to collide with his vehicle supported the submission of a contributory negligence issue to the jury).  After a careful examination of the relevant authorities, we have not been able to find any reported decision concluding that a driver who entered an intersection at a time when the light was green was contributorily negligent as a matter of law.  Bass v. Alvarado, 713 S.E.2d 251 (N.C. Ct. App. 2011)   Therefore, in North Carolina, you should continue to use caution while driving, and if you enter an intersection, don't forget... until we change our laws, you don't have an absolute right to enter... use good common sense and w  

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