How Does North Carolina Contributory Negligence Work?

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North Carolina is among the few states, which still impose the law of “pure” contributory negligence in personal injury cases. This means that even if you are 1% at fault for your accident in North Carolina, you may not recover any damages from the other party who was 99% responsible for your injuries.

It’s common for insurance companies of the negligent driver in North Carolina to deny claims based on the belief that the victim was also partly at fault for the accident. You should get in touch with a competent North Carolina attorney for understanding your legal options in such situations.

Were You Contributorily Negligent?

The reasonable or ordinary care standard is followed in North Carolina while determining negligence. This means that under the law, exercising reasonable care is the duty of every individual in North Carolina to protect themselves and others from harm. You are likely to be considered negligent and at-fault (partly) for the accident if you fail at this.

According to North Carolina personal injury law, “reasonable care” means the degree of care that would be exercised by any reasonable person under similar or identical circumstances.

It’s paramount to be aware that contributory negligence in North Carolina typically applies to victims that contributed to the accident directly. For instance, a victim cannot be barred from recovering compensation if it was determined that they were speeding, but the speeding did not cause the accident.

You should also remember that the 1% threshold is not a very big burden to overcome. Hence, it’s fundamental that you discuss your concerns with a competent North Carolina personal injury lawyer to prove that your violations did not cause the accident or contribute to the damages.

Doctrine of “Last Clear Chance”

An injured victim or a contributorily negligent plaintiff can recover damages from the defendant under this doctrine if they prove that the last clear chance for avoiding the accident that resulted in the injury was with the defendant and that they did not take the chance.

You would need to prove the following for invoking this doctrine:

  • The defendant could have reasonably known the victim’s inability to escape the injuries or the dangerous position
  • The defendant had the means and time for using reasonable care to avoid endangering the victim
  • The defendant was negligent in using the means and time available for avoiding the victim’s injury

Doctrine of Gross Negligence

Injured victims can recover damages if the defendant’s negligence was wanton or willful. This is even when the victim was negligent. Willfully wanton behavior refers to the intention and conscious disregard to rights and safety or others.

The Rule of Sevens

Children under the age of 7 are considered not capable of contributory negligence. Additionally, there is a presumption of incapacity between 7 and 14 years of age. This can be overcome by showing capacity.

Speak with a Car Accident Attorney Today

The lawyers at Tatum & Atkinson, PLLC have been representing victims of car accidents for several years. We have a noteworthy track record of verdicts and settlements for victims. We have the skillset to overcome contributory negligence claims and prove your case. Schedule a free consultation with us today by calling at 800-529-0804 or using our online form.

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