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A Raleigh Personal Injury Attorney Explains Contributory Negligence

North Carolina is one of only four states in the union that still follows pure contributory negligence laws. But what is contributory negligence, and how do contributory negligence laws affect the outcome of North Carolina personal injury claims?

Pure contributory negligence

Under pure contributory negligence, an injury victim can only collect damages if they were absolutely not at fault in any way for the accident that caused the injury. That is, even if an accident victim was only one percent at fault for what happened, they would not receive any compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering. For example, if you were struck by a reckless drunk driver who ran a red light - but you were traveling ten miles per hour over the speed limit - you would not legally deserve any compensation from the wildly negligent driver that struck your car.

In the past, a number of states followed pure contributory negligence laws; however, most states have altered their laws to recognize that often one person involved in an accident is more at fault than another.

Comparative negligence

Most states have comparative negligence laws - laws that state that an injury victim may collect damages even if they had some role in the accident that took place. In states that follow pure comparative negligence laws, an accident victim will get a percentage of compensation proportional to their involvement in the accident. That is, if an injury victim was found by a judge or jury to be 30 percent responsible for accident, he or she would receive compensation for 70 percent of his or her losses. Still, other states follow other types of comparative negligence laws, such as modified comparative negligence and the 50% rule of comparative negligence.

What do pure contributory negligence laws mean for your case?

Many lawmakers believe that pure contributory negligence laws are unfairly harsh toward accident victims - especially toward those who had a relatively small role in the accident or were severely injured by grossly negligent parties.

If you were involved in a North Carolina accident but aren't sure whether you were partially at fault for your injury, it is vital that you speak with a Raleigh accident attorney who understands contributory negligence and other key personal injury claim laws in North Carolina. Call Brent Adams & Associates today to learn more about your best options for legal action based upon the facts of your case.