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Contributory negligence and car accident claims in North Carolina

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

When someone has been injured in a wreck, people usually ask, “Who is at fault?” Sometimes, both parties bear some responsibility for the victim’s injuries. That’s where the issue of negligence and liability comes into play.

There are only a handful of states that still use the old system of contributory negligence — and North Carolina is one of them. 

What does this mean for those injured in a motor vehicle accident? 

What is contributory negligence?

Most states use some version of comparative negligence that allows the person least at fault for an accident to recover compensation for their injuries from the party or parties most at fault.

Under the contributory negligence system used by North Carolina, however, a victim who is even 1% at fault for their own injuries is barred from recovering their damages from the other party.

How does this work in practical terms? Consider this example:

  • You’re in a wreck with a driver who ran a stop sign. That driver is clearly at fault for the wreck. However, you had forgotten to buckle your seat belt when you got in your car before the wreck. Because of that, you were more seriously injured than you might have been otherwise. The court may find you partially at fault for your own injuries — which means you would be barred from collecting damages from the other driver.

Understanding the ins and outs of a motor vehicle accident claim in North Carolina isn’t easy. Experienced guidance can help you determine whether or not you have a viable claim and show you how to pursue what you are due.