The short answer is no. North Carolina is one of only four states, plus the District of Columbia, that follow the “pure contributory negligence” doctrine. This means that if you are found to be even 1 percent at fault for an accident, you are barred from recovering any compensation. Most states follow a “comparative negligence” doctrine, meaning that you can recover some damages even if you are partially at fault for the accident. Unfortunately, North Carolina follows the harsh contributory negligence doctrine, which is highly unfavorable to plaintiffs.
Contributory negligence is an insurance company’s biggest defense against liability. For example, say you are injured in an accident when a car pulls out in front of you. The other driver is at fault, right? Not so fast. If the other driver or their insurance company can prove that you were driving over the speed limit, they may say you contributed to your own injuries and deny your claim.
So, say your claim has been denied due to contributory negligence, but you believe you were not at fault for the accident. What options do you have? Keep in mind that if an insurance company can find any reason to deny your claim, they will use it. It’s important not to believe everything the insurance company says about who was at fault for the accident, because they will use any opportunity to pin some of the blame on you, even falsely.
If the other driver’s insurance company denies your claim due to contributory negligence, you may still have some legal recourse to recover compensation. At this point, it is essential to consult with an experienced North Carolina car accident attorney about whether filing a lawsuit is a viable option. A skilled car accident attorney will be very familiar with the contributory negligence defense and know how to work around it in court. The car accident attorneys at Kreger Brodish LLP have years of experience helping clients recover damages after an initial denial by the insurance company. Call us today for a free consultation about your injury case.