Currently, there are only a handful of states that follow contributory negligence laws in a case based on negligence. North Carolina is one of those states. Under the contributory negligence tort rule, parties seeking damages for the negligent behavior of another party can only obtain financial recovery if they prove they were in no way at fault for the accident. If the party making the claim, the plaintiff, is found even partially at fault, they cannot collect damages for their losses.

Why does negligence matter?

In a personal injury case, in order to recover compensation, you and your attorney must prove that the defendant was negligent. In other words, you must prove that the defendant owed a duty, breached their duty and that the breach ultimately caused your injuries.

For example, if you were in a car accident and the other driver’s unreasonable or reckless driving directly led to the accident and therefore led to your injuries, that may be a case of negligence leading to personal injuries and a reason to make a claim for compensation.

However, if the court finds you partially at fault—say you failed to use a turn signal or you were speeding—then you might not recover compensation under North Carolina’s contributory negligence rule. This rule applies even if the other driver was more negligent in their driving than you.

If you are seeking damages for a personal injury, from a car accident or otherwise, it is important to discuss this matter with your attorney and make sure they have all the documentation and evidence necessary to prove the defendant was completely at fault for the accident.