North Carolina is one of the very few states where the principle of contributory negligence applies in personal injury claims. Unlike comparative negligence (the standard used by a majority of states), the contributory negligence rule bars the victims of accidents and serious injuries from recovering damages if they have any degree of responsibility.
Contributory negligence imposes an unfair burden on people whose lives are turned upside down by the carelessness of others. In effect, the standard requires victims to be entirely blameless for the accident in order to recover fair compensation.
Thankfully, a change for the better is within reach. The Victims’ Fair Treatment Act was introduced in the North Carolina Senate last month. Sponsored by state Senator Danny Britt, Senator Jim Perry, and Senator Amy Scott Galey, the bill seeks to enact legislation that will allow personal injury claimants to recover compensation even if they are partly responsible for the accident.
What Does the Victims’ Fair Treatment Act Do?
Instead of totally barring recovery of damages for even a scintilla of fault on the part of the victim, the Victims’ Fair Treatment Act would allow plaintiffs to recover compensation that is reduced according to their level of fault. According to the text of the bill (SB-477), claimants can recover damages in proportion to their responsibility as long as the claimant’s percentage of fault does not exceed the combined share of fault held by all liable parties. In other words, plaintiffs may be awarded compensation provided they are 50 percent or less responsible for the accident.
Although the threshold of fault varies, 46 states have already implemented this standard. Personal injury victims in North Carolina deserve the opportunity for fair compensation when someone else has the lion’s share of the responsibility for their economic losses, pain and suffering, etc.
Why the Whitley Law Firm Supports the Victims’ Fair Treatment Act
Contributory negligence must be brought to an end. At the Whitley Law Firm, we have seen far too many injured individuals who are blocked from receiving any amount of compensation because minor errors on their part contributed to the accident. Such an outcome is devastating for victims and their families, who are left to deal with the aftermath of serious and even catastrophic injuries with insufficient financial resources and without legal recourse.
As attorneys, we believe fundamentally in fairness. Contributory negligence is not fair to people harmed by the careless and even malicious conduct of others.
We encourage all residents and voters in North Carolina to contact our state’s lawmakers and call for them to pass the Victims’ Fair Treatment Act. The bill is currently referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.
If You Have Been Injured, Contact the Whitley Law Firm Today
Insurance companies in North Carolina frequently use the contributory negligence standard to deny valid claims. An experienced attorney can push the insurer to stop hiding behind this outdated principle and deal fairly.
At the Whitley Law Firm, we have helped many personal injury victims overcome the challenges in their case to recover the compensation they deserve. Our results demonstrate our commitment to winning on behalf of our clients, and we will fight for you, too.
Please call the Whitley Law Firm at (919) 785-5000 today for a free consultation. Our personal injury lawyers serve clients throughout North Carolina from offices in Raleigh, Kinston, and New Bern.