How Does North Carolina’s “Fault” System Affect My Car Accident Claim?

Car Accident Claims in North CarolinaAfter being involved in a car accident, it is normal to worry about whether you played a role in the accident. North Carolina has a strict contributory negligence system, which might intensify your worries, stresses, and frustrations. This strict contributory negligence system makes it clear that even if you are only one percent at fault for the accident, you cannot recover any compensation for your injuries and other losses.

Any time that you are involved in a car accident anywhere in North Carolina, it is crucial that you hire a Charlotte car accident attorney to help you prove that you did not share any fault in the accident.

What if I was partially at fault for the accident?

Even if you are slightly at fault for a car accident, North Carolina’s contributory negligence rule makes you ineligible to file a claim or lawsuit and receive damages for your losses. Only a few states have this strict contributory negligence rule. Many people consider it extremely unfair because if you make one simple mistake that somehow contributes to the accident, you may be found partially at fault. As a result, you cannot collect any compensation to cover your accident-related medical bills, lost income, or property damage.

What if the at-fault driver disputes liability?

When the at-fault driver disputes liability, they argue against or challenge the finding that they were at fault for the crash. This disagreement regarding negligence must be resolved. These cases sometimes go to trial, where a judge or jury will make the decision of who is liable for the accident. If you know that you were not at fault for the accident and the other driver is disputing their liability, you should retain a lawyer right away to help you prove that you did not contribute to the accident in any way.

What if there is a third party involved?

If a third party causes your car accident, you may be able to hold them accountable for their negligence. For example, if your vehicle has a defective or broken part that caused you to crash into other vehicles, your auto mechanic or vehicle manufacturer may be found liable for the accident. However, you must have proof that the mechanic or manufacturer’s negligent actions directly caused your crash.

If you are involved in an accident with multiple vehicles, it may be challenging to show that you had no role in the accident. However, there are two exceptions to the contributory negligence law, which may be able to be used in this type of scenario. These exceptions are “last clear chance” and “gross negligence.”

  • Last clear chance doctrine. If your attorney uses the last clear chance doctrine, they will need to show that the other drivers had the last opportunity to exhibit reasonable care, which could have prevented the accident from occurring. If it can be proven that the accident would have been avoided if the other parties acted reasonably, they can be held liable, and you can still recover damages.
  • Gross negligence. If your attorney uses gross negligence, they will need to prove that the other drivers disregarded the lives, safety, or well-being of others, which violated your rights to safety. The gross negligence exception is usually used when another driver willfully puts other people at risk. For example, if they choose to drive while drunk or intoxicated, drive at extremely fast speeds, or participate in street racing, this might be considered gross negligence.

How can we prove that the other driver or party is the only one at fault for the accident?

To successfully prove that the other driver or party is the only one at fault for an accident, you will need to gather certain evidence, such as:

  • Photographs and videos
  • Surveillance footage
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Expert witness testimony
  • Police reports
  • Medical records
  • Auto mechanic reports
  • Documentation

The Charlotte car accident lawyers at Price, Petho & Associates, PLLC have been assisting clients with car accident cases for over 45 years. We understand how difficult it can be to secure fair compensation and get back on your feet again. North Carolina laws can complicate matters, which is why you need a lawyer to help you navigate any obstacles and hurdles that arise. Please call our office or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim today. We look forward to meeting you at one of our office locations in Charlotte, Rockingham, or Rutherfordton.