Is this the end of Contributory Negligence?

Emily J. Meister

The North Carolina General Assembly is currently considering a bill that would significantly modify how claims involving negligence, including motor vehicle accidents and personal injury actions, are evaluated, handled and, potentially, adjudicated. Currently, North Carolina is only one of a few states that adheres to the doctrine of contributory negligence, which bars individuals from recovering for harm they’ve suffered due to the negligent act of a third-party if they were even one percent at fault themselves. (Most states, including South Carolina, utilize the doctrine of comparative negligence to allow an individual to recover his or her damages, less a proportionate deduction for the percentage of fault attributable to that individual, so long as his or her negligence does not exceed that of the other party.) The doctrine of contributory negligence has been the favored legal argument or justification cited by insurers for many years to deny claims asserted against their insureds, and the results of its application can be harsh and breathtakingly unfair. Until such time as the bill passes and actually becomes law in North Carolina, however, persons injured due to automobile accidents, slip and falls, and other negligent acts would be wise to remember the doctrine and should contact an experienced attorney at Law Firm Carolinas to help guard against further harm and victimization.