This post discusses NC Personal Injury – What is Contributory Negligence? Read on for an explanation and what this means to you as an accident victim. We represent personal injury clients in North Carolina and do not get paid unless we win your case. Call us today for a free case evaluation, (919) 615-3095!
How does Contributory Negligence affect my NC Personal Injury case?
North Carolina is a contributory negligence state. This means that if you get injured by the negligence of someone else, but your own negligence contributed to your injury, it is a total bar to recovery. However, North Carolina also follows the Last Clear Chance Doctrine which says even if your own negligence contributed to your injury, if the other party had the last clear chance of avoiding the accident, then you can still recover.
The Doctrine of Last Clear Chance most frequently comes into play in a personal injury case in the context of car accidents. For example, if another driver ran a red light and hit you, but you were speeding, your speed becomes a factor in determining fault. Even if you were speeding, if it is determined that the last clear chance to avoid an accident belonged to the defendant who should have stopped at a red light, you are likely to still recover under those facts. Generally though, the laws of contributory negligence creates a harsh result for injury victims and that is why most other states do not use contributory negligence laws, but rather are comparative negligence jurisdictions.
Even though NC follows contributory negligence laws, the reality is that a North Carolina jury who is sympathetic to a plaintiff may be willing to award money in spite of these laws since most of these cases are decided in front of a jury and not a judge. However, juries are instructed by the judge at the close of trial to follow the law, so juror sympathy cannot be relied on for an injury victim’s recovery. Most personal injuries cases are settled before trial with insurance companies who will often offer money to settle to avoid a larger jury verdict if they think your lawyer can convince a jury of his/her client’s position.
Do other states use Contributory Negligence in Personal Injury Cases?
No, in fact, NC is only one of seven states that still uses contributory negligence to determine liability. In other states, like Florida, they use comparative negligence to determine how to compensate injured parties. In Florida, if you are 25% responsible for your own injuries, then the defendant is liable for 75% of your injuries and the other 25% is your responsibility. If interested you can read more information on Florida law from Attorney Tina Willis, a well-respected Florida Personal Injury Lawyer.
NC Personal Injury cases can be complicated. Legal standards, questions about settlement, future medical treatment, and value of pain & suffering are issues that need to be discussed with an NC Personal Injury Lawyer. The Bishop Law Firm represents Personal Injury clients in Raleigh, Durham, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Smithfield, Louisburg, Chapel Hill, Roanoke Rapids and surrounding areas in North Carolina. Call us today for a free case evaluation, (919) 615-3095.