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What is Contributory Negligence in North Carolina?

Most states around the country operate on a comparative negligence system, which means individuals can still recover compensation for injuries if they are partially at fault for an accident. However, North Carolina is one of the few states that use a contributory negligence system, which significantly curtails a person’s ability to recover compensation in an accident. Here, we want to discuss North Carolina’s contributory negligence laws and look at why you need a lawyer if you are injured due to the negligence of another individual.

North Carolina Uses a Contributory Negligence System

When an injury occurs, there is often just one party at fault. However, it is not uncommon for there to be more than one party responsible for an incident that leads to injuries. This can be a problem, particularly in North Carolina.

This state operates under a “contributory negligence” system. This means that any person who is partially responsible for causing the incident that led to their injury will be unable to recover any compensation for their losses. Even if a person is only 1% responsible for their own injuries, they will still be unable to recover compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering damages, etc.

This extreme contributory negligence system is fairly rare throughout the US. Each state is allowed to establish its own system for handling partial fault, and most states have done away with these harsh types of contributory negligence laws.

Because North Carolina has such a strict contributory negligence system, the most common tactic that insurance carriers and at-fault parties will use is to try and shift even just a little bit of the blame for an incident onto the injured party. If they can do so, they can get out of having to pay compensation, and this leaves injury victims in a tough spot.

Other States Use a Comparative Negligence System

As we mentioned, most other states in the country have done away with harsh contributory negligence laws. In other states, including bordering South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, comparative negligence systems are used.

In most states, individuals are able to recover compensation so long as they are less than 50% or 51% responsible for causing their own injuries. In a few states around the country, a pure comparative negligence system is in place, which means individuals can recover compensation even if they are up to 99% at fault for the injuries. However, in both a regular and pure comparative negligence system, individuals receive reduced compensation depending on their percentage of fault for the incident.

Will You Need a Lawyer for an Injury Claim

In places like North Carolina, where a contributory negligence system is in place, it is imperative to work with a skilled lawyer when trying to recover compensation for your medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering damages, lost wages, and other compensation types.

A Raleigh personal injury attorney will be ready to fight back against any allegations of shared fault put forth by the other party. They will do so by using their resources and conducting a complete investigation into the incident. This will include gathering as much evidence as possible that places the fault on the correct party.