North Carolina Contributory Negligence

history of workers compensation law north carolina

What is Contributory Negligence?

Put simply it is the failure to exercise due care for your own safety.

Contributory negligence is a personal injury law legal defense that says that an injured person will recover nothing from a negligent wrongdoer if that person acted in a way that may have contributed to their own injury from an accident.

How does the contributory negligence rule effect my personal injury case?

North Carolina is one of only four states and the District of Columbia that still practice the rule of contributory negligence in personal injury law.  For example, this defense may be used when a passenger gets into the vehicle of a drunk driver who causes a wreck and injures the passenger or when a person may not be watching where they were going, doesn’t see a wet floor sign and slips and falls.  If a defendant is successful in proving that the injured plaintiff was at least 1% at fault, then that plaintiff recovers nothing from the negligent defendant in their personal injury lawsuit.

Consulting a Personal Injury Lawyer

In North Carolina the contributory negligence rule can make personal injury claims complicated and confusing.

It’s important to act quickly and consult with an experienced North Carolina personal injury attorney who can review your case and maximize the possibility you recover damages for your injuries.

Contributory negligence is not a bar to recovery of damages, the defense must prove that contributory negligence is the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. For instance, if a person is walking on the side of the road, with traffic as opposed to against traffic, which the law requires, and a driver runs off the road and hits the pedestrian, the injury to that pedestrian was not caused by the pedestrian walking with traffic, but rather, the negligent driver who drove off the road. Walking against traffic was not the proximate cause of the pedestrian’s injuries.

There are other defenses to contributory negligence, including that the defendant had a last clear chance to avoid the accident.  In the above situation, if a person is walking with traffic, rather than against traffic and is on the road while doing so, an argument can be made that the defendant who hit the person in the road, was in a position where they had a last clear chance to avoid hitting the person and causing injury.

Unfortunately, in North Carolina contributory negligence is used as a tool by insurance companies to try and make it difficult to hold a negligent defendant accountable. Insurance companies use contributory negligence to deny claims, even though their insured was clearly negligent in their actions. Insurance companies will deny claims where a car is driving down a road with no stop sign and a car pulls out from a stop sign in front of them. The insurance company will claim that the driver on the straight away should have seen the car pulling out in front of them or was driving too fast. A personal injury attorney knows these denials can  be overcome with the right legal strategy and approach.

Ultimately contributory negligence is a bad law that allows negligent parties to avoid  responsibility for their negligent actions.

At Mullen Law, P.A. we ensure that we look at all aspects of the personal injury claim to determine whether allegations of contributory negligence are supported or are just being used by the insurance company to save money by denying the claim. We fight for our client’s right to recover damages for their injuries.

Have You Been Injured in an Accident?

Mullen Law, P.A. offers free, no-risk consultations to meet with you and review your case. We’ll advise you of the next steps to take in filing and processing your personal injury claim. Our firm works on a contingency fee basis which means we don’t get paid unless you get paid.

About Mullen Law PA

A personal injury, medical malpractice and workers' compensation law practice committed to representing individuals who have been injured or lost a loved one as a result of negligence or who were injured or lost a loved one while working on the job. Mullen Law, P.A. takes a "holistic" approach to your case. We identify all of the your legal and individual or family needs, fight for your rights and ensure that you receive the highest quality legal and individualized attention in order to obtain the highest monetary outcome considering all aspects of your case.