Contributory Negligence

When you are injured in an accident, you want to make sure that the person responsible is required to compensate you for your damages. Most states allow parties to recover damages even if they are partly at fault for the accident. This is called modified contributory negligence. Unfortunately, North Carolina is one of the few states that practices contributory negligence in personal injury cases.

In North Carolina, if you were negligent or at fault for any portion of the accident, you are not allowed to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit. If you were injured in a vehicle accident or other type of accident, it is advisable to seek guidance from a qualified Mooresville personal injury attorney as soon as possible. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we understand personal injury law and will assist you in recovering your damages whenever possible.

Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

When a party’s negligence caused an accident, they are generally held responsible for any damages that result. In order to prove negligence in a claim you must be able to show several elements. Causation is one of the elements that you must be able to prove in a negligence claim. To prove causation you must show that the injuries occurred as a result of the negligence of the other party and that it is reasonable to believe that the other party should have been able to foresee the problem.

A person’s injuries need to be a direct cause of the other person’s negligence. Therefore, if it can be proven that the injured party was partly responsible for the accident, that person would be excluded from getting any compensation for their injuries. Some situations can be complex and require some help from an experienced Mooresville personal injury attorney.


A person may still be allowed to recover their damages even if they were partly responsible. The “last clear chance” doctrine is a part of the law that allows a plaintiff to prove that the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the accident that caused the injury, but failed to do so. In order to invoke this doctrine, you must prove that the person put themselves into a dangerous situation from which they could not remove themselves with reasonable care. In addition, you must show that the party knew or should have known that the other party could not remove him or herself from the dangerous situation. You must also prove that the defendant had the time and ability to use reasonable care to keep you from being injured and failed to use this time and ability to avoid the accident and injury from occurring.

North Carolina courts will also examine proximate cause. The proximate cause doctrine looks at whether the party’s contributory negligence was a proximate cause of the injury. There are several things that the court will review in consideration of proximate cause. First, they determine if the injury occurred in a manner that was unforeseeable or in an extraordinary way. They also look at the extent of the harm that was reasonably foreseeable and they also look at whether the injured party was in a group of foreseeably-affected parties. If the other party was grossly negligent, you may still be allowed to recover damages. This may apply if the other party’s negligence rises to the level of willful or wanton. For example, this type of behavior occurs when the person intentionally disregards the safety of others.

The court may review these issues and determine that the plaintiff’s negligence did not rise to the level of proximate cause. If that is the finding, the party may be able to recover damages since their actions were not considered to contribute to the injury.

What to do if You Were Hurt in an Accident

If you were hurt in an accident, you should not admit guilt at the scene or when speaking to an adjuster. Keep in mind that the cause of the accident will be determined by the court and what you say could have an impact. Make sure that you call police. The police will investigate the accident and take witness statements.

An insurance company representative will contact you to discuss the accident. It is important to note that the conversation will be recorded and what you say may be used later in court. Sometimes even an innocent statement can be taken out of context and used later to prove your own negligence. Do not take any chances. Speak to a Mooresville personal injury attorney. Your lawyer will do everything to protect your rights and ensure that you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we will review your accident and assist you in recovering the money for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. If you were hurt in an accident, call the legal team at Arnold & Smith, PLLC to discuss the details of your case today.

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