joe-man in ambulanceTwo serious injuries were suffered after a vehicle collision that occurred in North Charlotte.  Charlotte-Mecklenburg police reported that the two pedestrians who were injured were hit on West Sugar Creek Road just off the I-85 ramp by a truck that was entering the ramp entrance.

The two victims were taken to a local hospital with serious injuries.  One of the victims reported to have a fractured leg.  They were taken to CMC Main, and officers spent a few hours attempting to clear the scene.  No charges have been filed at this point.

Contributory Negligence in North Carolina

In many states throughout the US, the pedestrians in this scenario would likely recover something if they were not the ones who were primarily negligence.  In some states, like our neighbor to the south, there is a system of recovery in personal injury suits called comparative fault, or comparative negligence.  Under this system, or theory of negligence, the plaintiff will recovery if they are less than 50 percent at fault.  If the plaintiff is 51% or more at fault, they will not recover.  This is a sensible standard and leaves room for the possibility for recovery when someone has still exhibited a small amount of negligence in a particular situation.

However, in the state of North Carolina, the stringent standard of contributory negligence is theory by which the state adheres.  Under this negligence system, if a plaintiff if found to be at fault, in any way at all, they will be barred completely from recovery.  The level of fault could be as low as 0.01% fault of the plaintiff, and they are left with NO recovery.  The only defense to contributory negligence is if it is proven that the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the harm, and did not.

For example, a plaintiff has edged his car out into the road slightly as he is attempting to make a left turn.  He is technically negligent due to the fact that he is a bit too far into the road into which he is attempting to turn into.  A defendant is texting while driving, not paying attention, and hugging the shoulder.  He looks up from his phone and sees that the plaintiff’s car is pulled out a bit too far.  However, he is over the white line, and a reasonable person in that situation would be able to avoid the harm, and he doesn’t smashing into the slightly negligent plaintiff.  Under the theory of contributory negligence, the plaintiff may recover because the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the harm and did not.  However, the plaintiff would surely recover in a comparative fault state.

In the story above, if the pedestrians who were hit were planning on bringing suit, they would have to illustrate to the court that they were not negligent at all, or that the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the harm and did not.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, whether it be as a pedestrian or as a driver in a vehicle, call the law offices of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP for a consultation.  We can determine, with the help of the reports, whether negligence was at hand, and whether someone should answer for the injuries that were caused.  Call us for a confidential consultation at our Fort Mill, South Carolina office at 803-548-4444, or at our Charlotte, North Carolina office at 704-499-9000, or toll-free at 877-374-4444.  We will be happy to assist you with your legal predicament.