Jack Cecil CEO Biltmore Farms, Hartford Ins stop discriminating against the injured in NC
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Jack Cecil CEO Biltmore Farms and Christopher Swift CEO Hartford Ins stop discriminating against the injured in NC
North Carolina 1% contributory negligence law discriminates against the injured by allowing corporations to legally turn their backs on those they have harmed.
These corporations can be 99% responsible for creating the hazard that caused an injury, but as long as they can find the injured 1% responsible, the corporations are not liable.
This is as confusing and outrageous as it sounds, and as devastating as it sounds.
Bottom line. I was eventually found not even 1% responsible for my own injury by Hartford Insurance, and yet I was not compensated for medical and dental bills and loss of income by Biltmore Farms LLC or Hartford Insurance (Hartford stated that if I accepted the few thousand they offered I was ineligible for further compensation-I refused-they had initially given me a couple of thousand without that stipulation).
When prominent corporations such as Biltmore Farms LLC, and Hartford Insurance work together to try to discriminate against the person who was injured, even when the corporation itself created the hazard that caused the injury, they become prominent in quite another way.
Often corporate CEO's will state they didn't know about the issue-that's why I made certain that I contacted, repeatedly, both Jack Cecil, CEO Biltmore Farms and Hartford Insurance CEO.
This is a long story, with many of the twists they used removed, and yet it is still lengthy, and still confusing. It's not only about discrimination, it's about corporations losing their way.
Corporations that spend billions on advertising, and little on corporate ethics and conscience. It's also about morals. Is it morally wrong to not only cause someone harm, but then to harm them further by blaming them?
It also speaks to physical safety in the state of North Carolina. If corporations, even those once thought of as prominent, don't think they need to take the safety of individuals seriously, how invested are they in making certain all they do is safe for everyone?
And when at fault, they not only don't acknowledge it and make necessary changes, they instead put their corporate strength and corporate lawyers to work to blame the individuals they harmed?
It's reasonable to say that the state of North Carolina isn't safe for it's residents, it's visitors, or even for anyone driving through the state.
It's reasonable to say that the state of North Carolina discriminates against the injured. Corporations that use the discriminatory law, an archaic common law, to avoid accountability, should be known to consumers and the general public.
What isn't reasonable is that this law hasn't been found discriminatory by the NC Attorney General Roy Cooper, or the Department of Justice.
I was walking home from the movies on December 20, 2009, in Biltmore Park Town Square, Asheville NC and I fell trying to cross the street.
I had to step onto a pile of snow that had blocked the walkway and was piled higher in all other visible areas and crosswalks. When I stepped onto the street, from atop the snow pile, I slipped, fell backwards, and my head and back hit the pavement first.
I tried to get up and couldn't. The next thing I recalled was how cold I was... .
I haven't been able to work since that time. I lost my home, my business, my retirement fund, savings, and most importantly, I lost my health.
I had just moved to NC and didn't know anyone.
I did know that I had two dogs that I needed to care for while I tried to figure out what to do. A few months later I realized I had to give them up.
It was an overwhelming loss for me.
That night I hadn't gone to the ER, my head injury and physical pain prevented me from doing anything but telling the Vice President of Crosland LLC (Biltmore's partner) the next day. I tried to stress how dangerous it was-that the snow had been plowed and shoveled into the crosswalks/walkways and how icy the street had become.
Biltmore Park Town Square was then owned by both Biltmore Farms LLC and their partner Crosland LLC. I wasn't offered any help from Crosland LLC but I later told their partner Biltmore Farms LLC. I emailed their CEO, Jack Cecil to let him know that I had filed a claim with their insurer Hartford Insurance, as they had requested, but was having great difficulty hearing back from them.
When I did hear from Hartford Insurance, I was told that I was 1% responsible for my injury, per NC contributory negligence law, and wasn't eligible for compensation.
Hartford stated that snow was an act of God, and I chose to go outside, so it was my fault. I disagreed and stated that God hadn't plowed and shoveled snow into the crosswalks and walkways.
Further, the water run-off design for the streets of the Biltmore Park Town Square development project (which received an award), caused the melted snow to cover the street vs run off to the sides of the street, so the streets are ice covered in the evenings after snow melt. A fact I wasn't aware of prior to my fall.
Biltmore Farms and Hartford then stated I wasn't eligible for compensation because I didn't fall going to the movies but I fell on the way back, so again, I was 1% responsible for my injury, and therefore ineligible for full compensation for all medical expenses, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
I contacted the regional claims advisor for Hartford and asked for a legal review, he refused and yelled "I don't have to! This is how we've handled claims out of NC for years!"
My translations was, we've been able to discriminate against the injured in NC for years.
I then attempted to contact Hartford administration and worked with them.
I also contacted the NC Insurance Commission who explained to me that corporations in NC encourage people who have been injured to file claims so that they can be found to be 1% responsible for their own injury. That way their insurer, Hartford, doesn't have to pay. The Insurance Commission also said that if the person is found to be 1% responsible for their injury they are far less likely to sue.
Years of providing proof to Hartford did little. With most medical and dental bills from the fall, they would find a reason to state they were not related to the fall. Due to my head injury I had great difficulty completing dental and medical forms, and Hartford took advantage of that- They also stated I had prior pain and health difficulties. There was no logic in attempting to work with them. Many people have pain and health difficulties, but if a corporation creates a hazard that does great harm to that individual, irreparable harm, that is a separate event.
For instance if a person has had a heart attack, but then has a more devastating heart attack because of a fall, that's a separate event. The discriminatory negligence law negates logic.
Hartford went further and said Biltmore wasn't responsible for the company that they had hired for snow removal. I knew that I hadn't hired the company, but Biltmore did.
I also responded that they were responsible the next day when they could see their property had hazardous conditions.
Hartford's final response to me was a few days before the 3yr post injury date, by which I had to file a court complaint against the corporations responsible.
I learned that I shouldn't have trusted that Biltmore Farms LLC, their partner Crosland LLC, and their insurer Hartford Insurance would do the right thing.
In my research and contact with law firms I found that in NC lawyers do not take personal injury fall cases on contingency. They gave me enough information so that I could write and file the complaint myself.
While I didn't go to the ER on the night of the fall, I had two ER visits afterwards. One of them was when I tried to file my court complaint. It was so stressful that I went into tachycardia. I later learned that the head injury caused further damage to an already compromised autonomic nervous system-the part of the brain responsible for breathing, blood pressure, digestion, kidney function-anything automatic. Damage I've not recovered from.
Afterwards I hired an attorney to help me with the court date preparation and appearance in Asheville NC. Judge Powell, a Buncombe County NC judge, presided at the hearing, then privately ruled that my complaint against Biltmore Farms LLC, and other entities that Biltmore Farms LLC stated were responsible for my injury, their partner Crosland LLC, and their landscaper, Snowcreek, (Biltmore had tried to blame their partner Crosland and Snowcreek) was dismissed.
I was in no physical or financial shape to appeal. My attorney had done outstanding work at the hearing when she spoke before the judge, and effectively represented me and responded to the four opposing attorneys.
It was the Biltmore Farms LLC attorney who presented a lengthy explanation about papers I'd filed to entities who later responded and were dismissed by me because they had no ownership in the area where I fell.
The Biltmore Farms attorney hadn't been aware of the dismissals.
While Biltmore Farms LLC and Hartford Insurance need to provide compensation for all medical and dental bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering, the over riding issue of discrimination in the state of North Carolina will continue if the 1% contributory negligence common law isn't found to be unjust.
To be unable to bring a law suit against the corporations who created the hazard, that caused overwhelming physical and personal losses, is to deny people a basic civil right.
Every signature to my petition lets me know that at least that person won't move themselves or their business to North Carolina, as I did, without first knowing the nightmare injustice that exists here in North Carolina. I would not have moved here had I known.
To those corporations and associations that do business with Biltmore Farms LLC, Jack Cecil CEO, and Hartford Insurance (such as The Duke Endowment, the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University, NC Institute of Emerging Issues, the AARP), please boycott these corporations and others in NC until this law is found to be discriminatory.
To North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, and the Department of Justice, why hasn't this law been investigated and found to be discriminatory years ago?
Meg Conway, formerly of Asheville NC
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