When determining compensation for injuries in an accident, North Carolina is one of only a few states in which the contributory negligence of the plaintiff may result in a complete bar of the plaintiff’s claim.
Let’s say that you are driving through an intersection and another car runs a red light or a stop sign, hitting your car. You had no stop sign or red light, and the other driver is clearly at fault. If you were speeding at the time or not following traffic rules in some other way, you may be found to have some responsibility for the accident — otherwise known as contributory negligence.
In such an example, you would not be eligible for any compensation for damages to your car or for injuries that you suffered. Even if the other driver is 99 percent responsible for causing the accident, if you are found to be even 1 percent at fault, you will be unable to receive compensation for damages under North Carolina law.
You may be able to overcome the contributory negligence defense in some instances, such as being able to show that the person responsible was “willful and wanton” in the actions that caused the accident. Additionally, evidence of “gross” negligence on the part of the other party may overcome a plaintiff’s contributory negligence.
North Carolina is one of only three states and the District of Columbia that recognize contributory negligence as a complete defense. Most other states consider comparative negligence, which assigns a percentage of compensation based on the percentage of responsibility assigned to each party.
North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers
A qualified North Carolina personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights under the law and how contributory negligence may be a factor in your case. A lawyer may be able to help you overcome this defense if it is preventing you from getting compensation for your injuries caused by an accident that was not your fault.