In recent years, a majority of states have ruled that a contractor can be found liable for personal injuries suffered by third parties from accidents occurring after the contractor’s work is completed and accepted.
Not North Carolina.
In a decision handed down on August 7, 2012, the N.C. Court of Appeals (“COA”) once again embraced the “completed and accepted work doctrine,” which provides that an independent contractor is not liable for injuries to third parties occurring after the contractor’s work is completed and accepted. The doctrine has been the “law of the land” in the Old North State since 1946, and our appellate courts show no signs of reversing course.
This post explores the COA’s decision in Lamb v. D.S. Duggins Welding, Inc., considers the merits and drawbacks of the completed and accepted work doctrine and concludes with some observations about the rule’s exceptions and limitations.