Contributory negligence is an aspect of North Carolina law that continues to frustrate drivers across the state. Contributory negligence, or “contrib,” is a common law tort rule followed by North Carolina that can have a major impact on your life if you have been injured in a car accident. As described in detail in the previous post, contributory negligence is bad for you if you have been the victim of a car accident because it gives the defendant a rock-solid defense if you have done or said anything that could be misunderstood or misconstrued. It goes without saying that doing everything possible to avoid being found “contrib” is important. Here are the top three ways to avoid contributory negligence.
#1 Never say “I didn’t see them”
In Hyder v. Asheville Storage Battery Co. the court stated that “Notwithstanding the driver is faced with green light, however, the duty rests upon him to maintain a reasonable and proper lookout for other vehicles in or approaching the intersection.” Hyder v. Asheville Storage Battery Co., 242 N.C. 553, 556, 89 S.E.2d 124, 127-28 (1955). In this statement, the court establishes that a driver has a duty to maintain a reasonable and proper look out at all times.
Why is this important? This matters because it is considered negligence to fail at keeping a proper lookout. One of the most common mistakes people make is telling the adjuster that they did not see something because that hands the adjuster a possible defense. If you admit that you did not see the other vehicle before it hit you, you open the door to an improper lookout defense. Try to say something else, or even better would be…
#2 No statements
It can be very stressful to give an adjuster a statement about what happened. You have to worry about saying the right things and not saying something that could hurt your accident case, and this can be quite a challenge from someone that has recently been injured in car accident. The adjuster may be pressuring you to give a statement, and you might think you have to give them one. This is not true. You have no obligation to give someone a statement. Without knowing what to look for and what to avoid, giving a statement can be a surefire way to complicate things. If you have an adjuster attempting to strong arm you into giving a statement it is in your best interest to speak with a specialized personal injury attorney, as they can guide you through this process.
#3 Know the speed limit
When the police are called to an accident they always ask each driver how fast they were going, so knowing the speed limit at all times is very important. If the speed limit is 35, and you tell the officer you were going 35 to 40, then you may have just admitted to being negligent, which bar your claim under the rule of contributory negligence. Even 1 mph over the speed limit has the potential to bar your claim completely.
If you have been injured in a car or truck accident and want to speak with an attorney, or if you just have questions about the finer points of contributory negligence, please do not hesitate to call the Law Offices of Brian deBrun. There is no charge for a consultation, so come on down and say hello. Brian deBrun and his associates know that when it comes to personal injury, Personal Services Gets Results!