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What is Contributory Negligence in North Carolina?

Brandon Evans   |  March 7, 2017   |  

After a car or truck accident, the other driver, trucking companies and insurance agents will likely be looking to blame the crash on someone else. This is because in North Carolina, the law provides for contributory negligence. This legal doctrine prevents an injured party from recovering on a car accident claim if they contributed to the negligence that caused the wreck. When a party is not represented by an attorney, the insurance company will often ask tricky questions to try and get that person to admit fault, even if that wasn’t actually true. This is why a person should never speak to an insurance company or trucking corporation after a car accident without a lawyer at their side.In this video, North Carolina car accident attorney Gene Riddle explains contributory negligence and what injured motorists should know about the law.

Video Transcription

It is a complete bar to any recovery, for any accident in North Carolina, if there are facts sufficient to determine that the injured party contributed even just a little bit to the cause of the accident. The best example I can think of is this; The other driver is at a stop sign. The other driver blows through the stop sign. But there’s an eye-witness that says “My client, who was hit by the person who ran the stop sign, was traveling seventy miles an hour, or over seventy, in the speed limit that was set at fifty.” Is it negligent for my client to be traveling seventy miles per hour in a 50 mile per hour zone? Maybe. That’s for the jury or a judge to determine. But it certainly sets up a factual situation where the insurance company can allege, with some support, valid support, that my client contributed to the accident by their speed. If they had not been speeding, then maybe they could have avoided the accident. And when I have clients in my office and I’m explaining contributory negligence to them, I have found that there’s one visual aid that I can give. And if I can borrow a sheet of paper I can give you an example. Let’s say that this sheet of paper represents one hundred percent of the cause of the accident. This is one hundred percent. And there are facts sufficient to show that my client caused that much of the hundred percent of negligence. That contributory negligence, not in every case, but in some cases, if it is found to be legitimate and valid, can prevent my client, who is injured severely or killed, from recovering one penny. Extremely unfair result. But that’s the law in North Carolina. Please give us a call or send us an email. We’re here, we’re ready to help. Justice counts.