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Understanding North Carolina Contributory Negligence Law

Contributory Negligence

North Carolina applies a rigid “contributory negligence” rule that may make claims more complex after car accidents.

If you seek compensation for your losses in an accident but were even partially at fault, your claim may be barred.

The fact that your role in a car crash can make such a difference in a legal claim makes it crucial to obtain representation from an experienced car accident attorney if you’ve been injured in a wreck in Western North Carolina. Inadequate representation could cost you money that you deserve and need for your recovery.

The Elmore and Smith Law Firm, PC in Asheville has more than 37 years of experience assisting car accident victims in Western North Carolina. We can determine who should be held liable for your car accident. Call us now or use this online form to get experienced help today.

Contributory Negligence In North Carolina Accidents

North Carolina’s doctrine of contributory negligence in car accidents and other personal injury cases is very strict. North Carolina law says if negligence on the part of the plaintiff (the person making a claim) contributed to the accident, the plaintiff cannot collect compensation from the defendant.

Most other states have adopted comparative negligence rules that generally allow an accident victim to recover compensation so long as they were not more than 50 percent to blame for the crash.

In North Carolina, it is up to a jury to decide whether a plaintiff was negligent, and, if so, whether their negligence was a contributing factor in the accident. For example, if an impaired driver is properly stopped at a red light and rear-ended by a speeding and distracted driver, the jury may decide that even though the impaired driver was negligent, their negligence had nothing to do with causing the crash.

Even in cases where a jury finds that a plaintiff was negligent and their negligence contributed to the accident, the doctrine of “last clear chance” may allow a recovery. Under this exception to the general rule of contributory negligence, a jury is allowed to consider whether the defendant had or should have had “the last clear chance” to avoid the accident.

An example of this would be the case of a plaintiff who knew that their gas tank was nearly empty but continued to drive and ran out of gas with their car in the roadway. If a defendant who had no obstructions to prevent them from seeing the disabled plaintiff in time to avoid a collision failed to brake and ran into the plaintiff’s vehicle causing injuries a jury would be permitted to award the plaintiff compensation.

An experienced car accident attorney can help determine whether contributory negligence exists in a car accident case and, if it does, whether it would likely prevent a recovery. An attorney who is experienced in handling and litigating car accident cases before North Carolina judges and juries can help you determine the likelihood of success of your personal injury claim.

Contact Our Experienced North Carolina Car Accident Attorney

For more than 37 years, The Elmore and Smith Law Firm, PC has been successful at helping individuals and families obtain compensation for serious injuries and wrongful deaths caused by others’ negligence in car accidents. We know how to deal with North Carolina’s contributory negligence rules.

Contact us now for a free discussion of your car accident and a potential claim. An initial consultation is free, and any legal work moving forward would be on a contingency-fee-basis, meaning we don’t charge unless we obtain compensation for you. Put our experience to work for you by filling out our online form or calling us now.