Understanding Contributory Negligence: What North Carolina Residents Need to Know

Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold answers the question: “What if the accident was my fault?”


One of the universal laws of nature is that of cause and effect. When we make a choice or do a certain behavior, these actions have consequences. Sometimes we can predict what those consequences will be, while other times the results are not what we expect.


limo-accident-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Personal-Injury-Lawyer-300x160When drivers behave in a negligent manner, they may do so either consciously or unconsciously.  Either way, when this negligence causes an accident and subsequent personal injury to someone else, those at fault may face legal repercussions for their actions. The driver who incurred the injuries is likely going to want to pursue legal action.


Determining who is at fault for an accident is not as easy as it may seem. As any personal injury attorney in North Carolina will tell you, the state law concerning fault determination in auto accidents uses a system known as contributory negligence.


This system can be confusing for the average North Carolina resident, especially after the disorienting events of an auto accident that results in personal injury. Therefore, while consulting with your personal injury attorney is always the preferred approach, the following are some answers to basic questions surrounding fault determination under a contributory negligence model.


Defining Contributory Negligence


The basic idea of a contributory negligence system of fault determination states that if the courts find the plaintiff even the slightest bit at fault for the events that led to an auto accident, he or she is unable to recover any compensation for damages. This approach contrasts with that taken by the majority of other states, which use a system known as comparative negligence to assign a ratio of fault that determines compensation amounts.


What Contributory Negligence Means for Drivers


Under the system of contributory negligence, drivers must be very careful when they are behind the wheel. With the ubiquity of traffic light cameras and dashboard cameras on vehicles today, it is easier than ever before for a court to determine if anyone besides the defendant in a personal injury case was at fault.  As mentioned earlier, even the slightest offense may disqualify you as the plaintiff from collecting compensation you need.


Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in North Carolina


Like many states, North Carolina has a statute of limitations on when plaintiffs can bring personal injury cases to a court. State law says that victims have up to three years after the date of the accident to pursue litigation. As with many things in life, it is advisable to not wait until the last minute, especially if your need for financial compensation is immediate. If you were hurt in an accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately.


North Carolina Legal Professionals


When you are hurt in an accident and believe the other driver was completely at fault for your injuries, it is time to act. For years, the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have been helping drivers in Charlotte and across North Carolina fight for their rights to compensation for injuries incurred in an accident. Call (704) 370-2828 to receive a video, phone or in-person consultation with our lawyers to explore your legal options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.







The skilled personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to maximizing the financial recovery and obtaining justice for every personal injury client injured by another party’s negligence. The issues our personal injury clients may be facing include, but are not limited to, slip and fall injuries, wrongful death, product liability, catastrophic injuries, dog bite claims, car and truck accident injuries, motorcycle injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI), nursing home negligence, spinal cord injury, boating accidents, and defective medical device injury. Our personal injury attorneys understand the devastating impact such an injury can have on a person’s life, and that the effects so often go beyond physical pain and suffering. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to helping clients determine the strength of their claims, and to aggressively pursuing the means necessary to achieve the best possible end result for each client’s particular situation.






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