Fault plays a major role in the average North Carolina motor vehicle crash. The actions or decisions of one person can directly result in other people getting hurt, and allocating responsibility plays a role in who pays and what rights people have.
Determining who caused the crash is the responsibility of the officers who take down the police report and the insurance companies that cover the drivers involved in the crash. The person who is responsible doesn’t always have enough insurance for the victims.
If you suffered severe injuries in a collision in a crash caused by another driver, you may need to bring a personal injury lawsuit against them to recoup your losses. In order to bring a successful personal injury claim against a driver in North Carolina, that driver needs to be fully at fault for the crash.
Sometimes the victim has some contributory negligence
Many times, it is clear that the crash is the fault of a driver who ran a red light or someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Other times, maybe one driver hit the other, but the victim didn’t use a turn signal.
Police and insurance companies may assign blame to just one driver, but it’s possible that both drivers have a degree of responsibility. Such contributory negligence can impact your right to seek compensation. In North Carolina, if the courts agree that a plaintiff has any level of contributory negligence, that eliminates their right to pursue civil action against the other person with primary responsibility.
The burden of proof is on the defendant when you bring a claim
If the police or the insurance company have already assigned fault for the other driver and you want to bring a claim, don’t let concerns that they might try to blame you deter you. In order for them to use a contributory negligence defense, they will have to have evidence.
The burden of proof falls to them in that situation, meaning that if they don’t have evidence, the courts will likely ignore their claim. Talking about the situation that led to the crash in depth can give you a better idea about whether contributory negligence might limit your options.