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Does partial fault ruin a car accident claim?

On Behalf of | Feb 3, 2021 | Car Accidents |

You were in a car accident and are wondering who’s to blame. Sure, you might have been speeding a little over the limit, but the other driver completely disregarded a stop sign. You may want to pursue a claim for financial compensation. However, in North Carolina, contributory negligence may bar your claim.

Partial fault and North Carolina car accidents

North Carolina is a state that follows the pure contributory negligence rule when it comes to fault and car accident compensation. When the victim is to blame in any way, they may not bring a claim for financial compensation against the other party. It doesn’t matter if the victim is 1% at fault or 50% at fault; the fact that the victim contributed to the accident in even a minor way is enough to completely bar recovery.

Rules for comparative and contributory fault vary by state. There are only a handful of states that follow the pure contributory negligence rule. Most states allow the victim to recover something as long as they are not more than 50% at fault. These states lower the amount that the victim can claim by the percentage that they are at fault. However, in North Carolina, even 1% of fault for a driver is enough to completely dismiss the claim even if the victim has severe injuries.

How to respond to allegations of fault

According to North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 1, Civil Procedure 1-139, the party asserting contributory negligence bears the burden of proof. Of course, if the defense can convince the jury that the victim played any role in the accident, they are completely off the hook.

For this reason, the victim must be prepared to respond to allegations of fault. They should prepare to counter witness testimony, expert analysis and arguments of fault for the motor vehicle accident. Ultimately, if there is a question of fault, the jury makes the final determination. If you are in this situation, it may be wise to consult an attorney.