Are you partially at fault for the accident in which you were injured?
This is an important question in North Carolina because it is one of the few states that follows the rule of contributory negligence. The term “contributory negligence” is used to describe any actions you may have made that resulted in your injuries. If a jury determines that you are at least partially responsible for your own accident — even just 1% at fault — you cannot recover any damages. (In most other states, a comparative approach allows for a more measured approach that takes into account each party’s negligence and can still allow for a partial recovery.)
That fact is precisely why so many slip-and-fall cases, car accident claims and other injury lawsuits are fought so aggressively by insurance companies. They often gamble that they can find some way to convince a jury that the victim could have somehow prevented the accident by filing a contributory negligence counterclaim.
For example, look at a case that’s been winding its way through the legal system since the victim was injured back in 2016. She slipped and fell on some blueberries while shopping inside a Walmart, injuring her back. She asserted a premises liability claim against the retailer, saying that store employees could reasonably have been expected to know about the berries and the danger they posed.
Walmart tried hard to get the suit dismissed, alleging that the victim was negligent for things like:
- Failing to observe the area around her feet
- Not keeping a proper eye on where she was walking
- Not wearing the right footwear
- Not observing the berries on the floor before she walked into them
These are the kind of arguments, however, that an experienced injury attorney knows to anticipate. If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall case or some other kind of accident, find out more about your legal options. Don’t assume that you can be denied compensation based on the insurance company’s word.