In the US, different forms of negligence laws are observed in different states. It is important to know which law applies to your case because it will impact either the value of your claim or your ability to recover compensation at all. To answer the question, North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, meaning that if you have contributed in any way to your personal injury in North Carolina, you cannot recover compensation. This holds true regardless of how much fault is assigned to your actions.
This differs from other states which observe pure comparative negligence or modified comparative negligence laws. The pure comparative negligence states are those which hold each party responsible for their percentage of fault. This means that if you do not hold the majority of fault in the case, then you can recover compensation, up to the amount of the defendant’s percentage of negligence. If you are 20% at fault, your compensation will be reduced by 20%.
Modified comparative negligence states are the most common, and they allow a personal injury victim to recover compensation as long as he or she is not more than 50% at fault for the injury. Some states will not allow you to recover damages if you are equally at fault (or 50% negligent), and others allow you to recover damages as long as you are not 51% (or more) at fault.
How Will This Impact Your North Carolina Personal Injury Claim?
Because North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, you cannot recover any compensation if you are found to be even 1% at fault for your injury. This makes it that much more important to ensure that you are not determined to be in any way liable for your injury, which is naturally more difficult than simply proving that you don’t hold the majority of fault. For this reason, personal injury claims in North Carolina can make it more difficult to recover damages.
Naturally, many people disagree with this system and would prefer to benefit from the comparative negligence laws that are observed in other states. Unfortunately, if your injury occurred in North Carolina, you must adhere to the rules in this state and establish that the other party was 100% negligent in your claim if you hope to recover anything at all.
What Can You Do to Prove Negligence in Your Personal Injury Claim?
There are many things that you can do to prove negligence in a North Carolina personal injury claim. For instance, gathering evidence can go a long way towards proving what happened and who was at fault. You may be able to take photos of the hazard that caused your injury, document the location of the injury and get the contact and insurance details of the liable individual or entity. If your injury occurred in a public place, a store, a restaurant, or any other establishment, then there may be video footage of what happened. Depending on what happened, this could strengthen or weaken your case.
You have to keep in mind that the property owner or other responsible party (in many cases, an insurance provider) is going to do everything that they can to prove that you were in some way negligent in the situation that resulted in your injuries. They are going to look into anything you might have done to contribute to the incident, and there are many points that they can argue.
For example, if you did not seek medical treatment right away, then the severity of your injuries could be somewhat contributable to your failure to act quickly. If you slipped on something that you yourself spilled, then this would be another example of contributing to your injuries. If someone had a dog confined, and you walked into that area with adequate warning beforehand, then you could be partially responsible for any dog bite injuries that might have occurred.
Ultimately, the most important thing that you can do to improve your chances of proving that the other party was 100% negligent in your claim is to contact a professional North Carolina personal injury attorney as soon as you can. You also need to seek medical treatment quickly, follow up with appointments and doctor’s instructions, and gather any evidence that you can about what happened. If there were any witnesses, gather their contact information as their testimony may be needed. Then, seek a free consultation with Remington & Dixon, PLLC to learn more about the laws as they apply to your situation and how we can help you recover compensation.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.