Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold answers the question: How does the law of contributory negligence play a role in my case?
If you have been injured in an automobile accident in North Carolina, recovering damages may not be as straightforward and easy as in most other states.
That is because North Carolina follows the doctrine of “contributory negligence.” Basically, contributory negligence is a defense that the at-fault party can use to prevent you from receiving any compensation if it is determined that you were in any way at fault for the accident.
Consult with our Charlotte personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to discuss your situation and determine if you can raise the last clear chance defense to protect your right to compensation.
North Carolina’s Contributory Negligence vs. Last Clear Chance
While most states have adopted the “comparative negligence” doctrine, North Carolina is one of few states that still follow an outdated standard called contributory negligence.
Thus, if you were involved in a car crash caused by another driver and that driver can prove that your negligence contributed to the accident – even in the slightest degree – you will be barred from obtaining any compensation for your injuries.
One way to potentially defeat contributory negligence in North Carolina is to raise the “last clear chance” defense.
What is the Last Clear Chance Defense?
When both parties have contributed to an accident, one of them can raise the last clear chance defense if they can prove that the other party had the last opportunity to avoid the accident.
In other words, the party who clearly had the opportunity and time to avoid injuries will be held responsible for the accident. North Carolina courts developed the last clear chance doctrine as a way to counter contributory negligence.
Thus, even if you contributed to your injury, you may still be able to obtain compensation from the other party if you can prove that the party failed to act on a final chance to avoid the accident.
However, the last clear chance defense does not apply to every case. Your case needs to meet specific requirements in order to raise the last clear chance defense in North Carolina.
Note: The last clear chance doctrine does not only apply to car accidents. The doctrine can be used in many other types of personal injury cases in North Carolina.
If you have been injured in an accident in Charlotte, Lake Norman, or other parts of North Carolina, but the other party argues that your own negligence contributed to your injury, speak with our attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, right away.
When Can I Raise the Last Clear Chance Defense in North Carolina?
If the at-fault party argues that your negligence contributed to the accident, you may have grounds to raise the last clear chance defense. The North Carolina Court of Appeals has previously outlined the required elements of the last clear chance doctrine in ADDISON v. KYE, 600 S.E.2d 899, 165:
- Your own negligence caused you to enter into an area of “helpless peril” from which you could not extricate yourself;
- The other party discovered or should have reasonably discovered that you were in the position of helpless peril;
- That party had the opportunity and time to avoid the accident;
- That party negligently failed to use the last clear chance to avoid the accident; and
- You were injured because of the defendant’s negligent failure to avoid the accident.
Speak with our personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to discuss the possibility of raising the last clear chance defense in your particular case. Call (704) 370-2828 to schedule a case review.
It is advisable to seek help from an experienced car accident attorney to determine liability in your work zone crash. Our skilled North Carolina car accident lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, will help you investigate what caused your construction zone collision in order to prove another party’s negligence. Call (704) 370-2828 to receive a video or phone 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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