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Phone: (910) 341-7570

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My grandmother lives in a residential nursing home in North Carolina. I just found out that there was a small fire there a couple weeks ago, and that Gran had to be taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Is it worth talking about this with a North Carolina personal injury attorney?

 

A:

Yes.

 

Any property owner has a duty to provide reasonably prudent care for the safety and wellbeing of people who are present on the premises. The law says that the obligation varies a bit depending on the nature of the relationship between the owner and the person; for instance, an invited guest is owed more consideration than a trespasser.

 

The duty of care is elevated still higher when the person is paying to use the property—for instance, when the person is renting a hotel room for a night, or renting an apartment for six months; beyond that would be the examples of North Carolina nursing homes and residential living facilities. Not only is the business owner being paid to provide secure and safe premises, but he also knows that the residents are infirm, often elderly, and sometimes suffering from dementia. In light of those specifics, what counts as “reasonable care” becomes a much stricter requirement. State and federal laws treat such facilities as special cases that require close regulation and scrutiny.

 

There’s No Way to Pass the Buck on This One

 

Premises liability law in North Carolina is quite clear. The owner of property can be held legally responsible—liable, in lawyers’ jargon—for certain harmful acts that occur on the property. If the owner knew about a risky situation on his property, or should have known about it, he is responsible for taking reasonable care to alert people about the danger and make the situation safe. In dealing with a nursing home population, the requirements of “reasonable care” are very extensive because of the residents’ special frailty.

 

Another key part of premises liability law is called non-delegability of duties. This means that the owner cannot free himself from his obligations to provide a safe environment by saying, “It was someone else’s job to take care of it.” He cannot delegate his duties of care. Even if the nursing home is operated by a separate business from the property owner, or even if a maintenance crew or security team should have reported a fire risk, the owner of the property may still be liable under North Carolina premises liability doctrine for fire injuries.

 

What can you reasonably expect to recover?

 

First of all, everyone at Speaks Law Firm wants to say we’re happy to hear your grandmother didn’t suffer any permanent injury from the fire incident. However, a night in the emergency room recovering from smoke inhalation isn’t a pleasant experience. Your grandmother suffered inconvenience, pain, and fear, and may yet be billed for medical services not covered by Medicare or Medicaid. She deserves compensation for those losses.

 

Our Wilmington fire injury lawyers are interested in hearing more about this case and learning more details about the incident, or any similar cases. Call us at 877-593-4233 at your earliest convenience and we will schedule a FREE confidential consultation. Your grandmother is being charged an enormous sum every month for her nursing home stay, and it is a hideous injustice that her safety was compromised recently. We definitely are interested in being your partner in getting her the fair compensation she deserves.