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Explaining Contributory Negligence in North Carolina

By :Douglas A. Petho

952313_gavel.jpgContributory negligence is an affirmative defense raised by a defendant to defeat a tort claim against him asserting negligence… Under this doctrine, a plaintiff whose own action or inaction has brought about or contributed to his or her own injuries will be barred from any recovery against a defendant. In North Carolina, once a plaintiff has proven the negligence of a defendant, the burden is on the defendant to prove that the plaintiff was also negligent. Even where a defendant’s negligence is 99% the cause of the plaintiff’s injury or damage, a finding of 1% fault on behalf of a plaintiff will operate as a complete bar to recovery. While the doctrine does not apply to claims asserting intentional tort, it is used frequently to deny plaintiff’s recovery.

While most states have moved away from this archaic and often unfair doctrine, it remains the law in state of North Carolina. In liability claims, making sure that a timely investigation is conducted is critical in avoiding an erroneous denial of claims.

The law firm of Price, Hargett, Petho and Anderson has been litigating claims involving negligence of over 30 years.