What is Contributory Negligence in Personal Injury Cases?

Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold answers the question: “How does the law of contributory negligence play a role in my case?


If you were hurt in an accident, you might be entitled to money for your injuries. In many cases, someone else was negligent and their negligence caused an accident or incident that resulted in serious injuries. There are many types of accidents that may occur in which someone else’s actions or inactions led to you getting hurt. Medical care can be extremely expensive and the responsible party should be held accountable for all costs associated with the accident. If you were hurt in an accident that was not your fault, you have limited time to file a claim.


What is Negligence?


In order to seek compensation for injuries caused by an accident, you must be able to prove that the other party was negligent. Negligence is the failure to act in a way that someone of ordinary prudence would. Simply put, negligence means doing something, or failing to do something that could result in harm to another person. Some people, such as doctors and other medical professionals, are held to a higher standard than average citizens. Not all accidents are due to someone’s negligence. If negligence did not happen, the person is not necessarily liable. More than one party may be negligent in the incident that caused injuries.



How Does Contributory Negligence Impact My Claim?


North Carolina uses a pure contributory negligence doctrine. This means that if you bear any portion of negligence for the accident, you are not allowed to receive compensation from the other party. For example, say you got into an accident where another car hit you at an intersection. You were seriously hurt in the accident. The other driver was found to be 80% at fault for the accident and it was found that you were 20% at fault. In this example, you would not be able to collect money for your injuries from the other driver because you were partly negligent. This holds true even though you were less at fault than the other driver, who was mostly responsible.


Resolving Injury Claims


Shortly following an accident, the insurance company will contact you for a statement. The insurance company will review the details of the accident and the statements of the drivers to ascribe a portion of negligence or fault to each party. The insurance company may try to say that the accident was partly your fault, even if you did not think you did anything wrong. For this reason it is a good idea to speak to a personal injury attorney before you talk to the insurance company. Your attorney will evaluate the accident and work with the insurance company to protect your rights and make sure that you get the compensation that is due to you for your damages.


Expenses due to your injuries can add up quickly. The responsible party should pay for all the damages they caused. The law limits the time to file a claim, so do not delay. Please contact us today to get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.






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.



Negligence | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)

damages | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)



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