How contributory negligence affects North Carolina car crashes

In a city the size of Charlotte, there are motor vehicle crashes virtually every day. Far too often, the wrecks result in serious injuries to drivers, passengers or pedestrians and sometimes even fatalities.

Who caused the crash?

One of the first things people want to know after a crash is who was at fault. Determining fault in a motor vehicle wreck establishes who can be held financially responsible – especially important in crashes involving serious injuries or fatalities.

In most states, the driver who was at fault for a crash can be made to pay for the damage done to people and property. Under North Carolina law, however, if a negligent driver is 99 percent responsible for a wreck that causes injuries, and you’re 1 percent responsible for the crash, our state’s contributory negligence law can prevent you from recovering any compensation whatsoever.

Hypothetical crash and consequences

Understandably, many people argue that contributory negligence can be deeply unfair to accident victims. There are some circumstances in North Carolina where contributory negligence may not defeat your right to recovery. You should discuss this with an experienced attorney.

In most states, the driver 95 percent responsible could be held liable for 95 percent of the damages, but in North Carolina and a few other states, that driver can walk away from the wreck not owing a penny.

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