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Contributory Negligence – Is It Fair?

North Carolina has a little known law by most people called Contributory Negligence.  In it’s barest terms, it means that if you are in an accident that is someone’s fault, and you are in any way also at fault, you can recover nothing… nada… zip!  Even if you were only 1% at fault!

So, say you are at a stop light and you are going to make a left hand turn.  Your light turns green (green arrow).  Even though you have the right of way, you look to the left, then to the right to ensure no one is coming, and then you enter the intersection to start your left hand turn.  At the same time, an 18 wheeler is coming from your left.  He comes around a curve which prevented you from seeing him on the first look to the left.  He is speeding, not paying attention, and blows right through the red light crashing into your vehicle and causing you very serious injuries.  The truck driver is clearly at fault for running the red light… you should be able to recover monies from that trucker’s insurance company for your devastating injuries.  It’s clear, right?   WRONG!  You may be held accountable for just a tiny fraction of fault for failing to look left a second time after looking right to continually ensure that the intersection was clear.

Because of the law of contributory negligence, there are many insurance companies who would deny your claim simply for failing to look back left again.  Now you should see the problem with this law.  It gives an opportunity for fair and just claims to be denied by the insurance companies.  So in this scenario… your claim gets denied, you then have to hire an attorney who would be willing to file a lawsuit on your behalf, and take your claim through a lengthy process in the court system to try to recover for your injuries… all because you didn’t look left one more time.  Is that justice?  This is just one of a host of insurance issues that can cause you stress to deal with.

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