While many personal injuries are caused by another person’s negligence, there are also a lot of cases where the victim played a role in causing his or her injuries. In North Carolina, these types of cases are governed by a strict contributory negligence law.
Below, our Charlotte personal injury attorneys review what you need to know about this law. They also explain how the last clear chance doctrine can be used to counter a contributory negligence defense by a defendant.
WHAT IS STRICT CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE?
North Carolina is one of only four states that has a strict contributory negligence standard.
Under this law, plaintiffs are prohibited from recovering compensation for their injuries if they bear any responsibility for what happened. This means plaintiffs cannot recover compensation even if the defendant is 99 percent responsible for what happened.
It is up to the defendant to prove that the plaintiff’s own negligence helped cause his or her injuries.
It is not enough to prove negligence occurred, the defendant must show a causal relationship between the plaintiff’s negligence and the injuries that occurred. This means that the strict contributory negligence law does not apply to situations where the plaintiff was negligent but this did not cause injury.
LAST CLEAR CHANCE DOCTRINE
Contributory negligence is generally used as a defense against a personal injury claim based on negligence.
One way to counter this defense is with the “last clear chance doctrine.” Under this doctrine, plaintiffs can make a full recovery if they can prove:
- They were in a dangerous situation following their act of negligence and could not avoid an accident.
- The defendant had an opportunity to avoid the accident and failed to do so.
An example would be a car accident where a car hit someone who was changing a tire near the side of a highway. The defendant could try to assert that the victim was partially at fault for being too close to the road. However, if the defendant had an opportunity to avoid the crash this would be considered the proximate cause of the accident, and the victim may be entitled to compensation.
CONTACT OUR CHARLOTTE PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS NOW
The attorneys at The Nye Law Group are knowledgeable in all areas of personal injury law, including contributory negligence. We know how to build a robust case to improve your chances of recovering fair compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Initial consultations with our personal injury lawyers are always free and you are under no obligation to pursue a lawsuit. Should you decide to work with our attorneys, fees are assessed on contingency only, which means we are paid only if we secure compensation.
Call 855-856-4212 or fill out a Free Case Evaluation form today to set up your free consultation.