North Carolina Appellate Court Discusses Contributory Negligence Doctrine in Intersection T-Bone Accident Case

People who are injured in a car accident can bring a civil lawsuit against the person who caused the crash to recover compensation for their injuries and damages. This may sound straightforward, but the process can be complex and requires following countless procedural and substantive rules. This includes affirmative defenses, which the defense can use to argue that he or she should not be held liable for your damages. The seasoned Charlotte personal injury lawyers at Maurer Law are available to assist injury victims with evaluating their claims and making sure that they are treated fairly throughout the process.

In a recent case, an appellate court considered whether the lower court properly entered a judgment based upon the jury’s finding that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent. This doctrine stands for the idea that a plaintiff who contributed to his or her injury should not be allowed to recover compensation from another party involved in the situation. North Carolina follows a version of this doctrine that bars the plaintiff from recovering any compensation if the defendant can show that he or she was even a bit at fault for the accident.

The plaintiff’s complaint alleged that she was injured when the defendant failed to stop at a stop sign at an intersection crossing causing his vehicle to collide with the plaintiff’s vehicle as she passed through the intersection. The officer who responded to the scene prepared a report stating that there were no braking marks, which suggested that the plaintiff had not attempted to stop. The plaintiff testified that she saw the defendant’s vehicle “a little bit before” he entered the intersection and that it did not look like he was going to stop. Based on this, the jury concluded that the plaintiff contributed to her injuries by not paying closer attention and identifying the defendant’s approaching vehicle sooner.

Although North Carolina law states that a motorist has the right to assume that motorists approaching from the left of the intersecting street will stop at a red light or stop sign if something happens that puts the driver on alert or reasonably should have put her on alert that the motorist will unlawfully enter the intersection, this assumption is no longer valid. A motorist who has the right-of-way still has a duty to keep a proper lookout and can be found contributorily negligent if there is additional evidence to show that he or she failed to do so. The additional evidence here was the plaintiff’s statement that she noticed the defendant’s vehicle as he entered the intersection, she did not think he was going to stop, and there were no brake marks. The appellate court, therefore, upheld the lower court’s judgment for the defendant.

Motor vehicle accidents are often painful and incredibly stressful for the victim and his or her loved ones. The Charlotte personal injury lawyers at Maurer Law provide a free consultation to help you learn more about the civil case system and whether you may be entitled to compensation. To schedule your appointment, call us now at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online to get started.

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