What is Contributory Negligence and How Can It Affect a Personal Injury Case?

When an individual is harmed due to the actions of another, the injured party often has the right to legal recourse. That is most often achieved through a personal injury lawsuit, in which the injured party asks the court to hold the other party responsible for any damages that took place as a result the negligence of the liable third party. Negligence refers to a person’s failure to follow a duty of conduct imposed by law.

However, North Carolina is one of the four states that still has the doctrine of contributory negligence. Contributory Negligence means that if you are injured by the negligence of a third party, you can be barred from recovery if you were in any way negligent in causing your own injury. Your negligence can be as small as one percent and you will not be able to recover. Contributory negligence is a strict doctrine.

Let’s consider the example of a car crash in which one driver was sitting at a red light waiting to cross an intersection. A second driver approaches from the rear, and fails to slow down in time to avoid a rear-end collision with the first driver's vehicle. In this case, any injuries or property damage that occurred would most likely be the fault of the second driver, because the first driver shared no fault in the accident.

Let’s consider another example in which things are not so simple. One driver is sitting at a red light waiting to cross an intersection when his light turns green and he proceeds out into the intersection. As the driver enters the intersection, he is t-boned by another vehicle. In this scenario, you may wonder how the driver entering the intersection on a green light could be at fault. In North Carolina, we often hear that, even when a driver has a green light, he must keep a proper lookout and take caution before entering an intersection. If he does not keep a proper lookout or take caution, he will be found to have contributed some fault to the accident and be barred from recovery. Contributory negligence is almost always a factor in dealing with auto accident cases in North Carolina.

Matters of contributory negligence factor into many different types of personal injury cases in and around Pitt County and Greenville, North Carolina. Understanding how contributory negligence is applied to auto accident cases is one of the roles that a personal injury attorney plays. By crafting a carefully considered and detailed case, a skilled attorney can help injured clients receive the damages that they deserve. That can make a world of difference when it comes to covering medical bills and making up for lost wages that follow a serious accident.

Greenville, NC Personal Injury Attorneys

I’m Brian Ricci, a Personal Injury Lawyer in Greenville, NC. If you have suffered a personal injury, please call me anytime at (252) 752-7785 or (888) 484-6881 for free, friendly advice. Let’s go over the details of your accident case over the phone and see how best to proceed. The call is free and there is no obligation to you.

I am a longtime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. We are a group of top rated US trial lawyers with multi-million dollar settlements and case verdicts for the injured clients we have served.

Take a look at the excellent results our Greenville, NC injury attorneys have obtained on our Past Verdicts and Settlements page and our many Testimonials.

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