Appeals Court Considers Whether Family Has Right to Sue for North Carolina Personal Injury After Pedestrian Was Mistakenly Declared Dead

April 9, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

The family of 34-year-old Larry D. Green is asking North Carolina’s Court of Appeals to let them sue Louisburg paramedics for personal injury. State law usually protects civil servants from being sued for North Carolina personal injury if the alleged negligence occurred while the worker was doing his or her job. However, a lower court judge has already ruled that J.B. Perdue, the former medical examiner for Franklin County, should be sued in civil court for his role in the catastrophic mix-up.

Green was injured in January 2005 in a North Carolina pedestrian accident when he was struck by a car as he crossed a highway north of Louisburg. A local paramedic declared him dead after feeling for a pulse. The worker never attempted to resuscitate him.

The paramedic then asked a county paramedic to check Green for a pulse. The second paramedic, however, said he trusted the first paramedic’s judgment and did not check the victim.

The North Carolina personal injury lawsuit accuses Perdue, then the Franklin County medical examiner, of ignoring signs that Green was not dead, including eye twitching and chest movement. Green was placed in a body bag and transported to a morgue.

It wasn’t until 2 ½ hours later when a North Carolina Highway trooper asked the medical examiner to help figure out from which direction the auto had struck Green did Perdue realize that the victim was still alive.

Green’s family and guardian say that wrongly declaring him dead when he was, in fact, still alive caused him to sustain injures that have left him bedridden in a rest home where he is fed through a tube and cared for 24 hours/day. Franklin County and the family reached a $1 million North Carolina injury settlement earlier this year.

Court weighing right to sue over mistaken death, Winston-Salem Journal, November 20, 2009

Related Web Resources:
North Carolina Tort Liability

Wrongful Death, Nolo


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