What is contributory negligence? Associate Attorney Marc C. Downing FAQ Answers

Contributory negligence is a legal doctrine relevant to the determination of liability in a personal injury claim for negligence.  In states, like North Carolina, that still adhere to this doctrine in personal injury claims, it acts as a complete bar to obtaining money damages if it is determined that you are at all responsible for the harm you suffered.   

What this means is that if you in anyway contributed to the accident, you recover nothing.  Even if a jury determines that you are 1% to blame for the accident while the other party is 99% responsible, you are completely barred from recovering any compensation.  Although this rule may seem unfair and harsh, it is the law of the land in North Carolina.

As you can imagine, contributory negligence substantially impacts your rights.  Many cases that are otherwise meritorious are hamstrung by the doctrine.  Therefore, it is important that you hire a competent and experienced law firm because contributory negligence is often used as a defense to defeat your claim.  Moreover, contributory negligence is a primary reason why you should not talk to the at-fault party’s insurance company – they often seek to evoke statements from you that they can then use against you by arguing that you were contributorily negligent in causing the accident.

Contributory negligence could bar any potential recovery, meaning it is important for you to retain a skilled and knowledgeable attorney to both protect your rights and preserve your access to the courtroom.

Marc is an Associate Attorney at Wilson Law, P.A.  The best way to learn about your rights and options after suffering a serious personal injury is to speak with an attorney in person.  Please contact Wilson Law, P.A. using the form or call (919) 800-0919 today to schedule your free personal injury consultation.

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