The Greensboro News & Record took state lawmakers to task in an editorial today regarding the glacial progress of attempts to reform contributory negligence.
Our North Carolina car accident attorneys have been watching the progress — or lack of progress — of this reform effort for some time. North Carolina is one of just four states in the country that have not adopted some form of comparative fault.
North Carolina’s contributory negligence law attempts to prevent a motorist who is even slightly at fault from collecting against an at-fault driver’s insurance company in the event of an accident. So if you have a broken headlight and are hit by a truck driver who blows through a red light, you could be prevented from collecting under current law. Comparative negligence would allow a court to determine to what degree you are at fault in an accident and award damages proportionately. In the same case, the truck driver may be found 90 percent at fault and his or her insurance company would be required to pay for the vast majority of damages.
Naturally, the insurance companies would like to keep the current law in place. The contributory negligence law is another reason motorists who are dealing with a serious or fatal car accident should contact a North Carolina injury lawyer to help protect their rights.
Last year the state House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill to get rid of contributory negligence. However, the Senate has done nothing in the face of strong opposition from the insurance industry. Even in the current measure, insurance-company opposition forced compromise, including a clause that would prohibit motorists from collecting damages in cases where they are determined to be more than 50 percent at fault.
The Insurance Federation of North Carolina contends the change would lead to more lawsuits and could require insurers to raise rates by 5 percent. We think they are going to raise rates 5 percent regardless and it will be a small price to pay to change a law that will allow people to seek justice from insurance companies in the wake of a serious or fatal North Carolina car accident.
Never mind that the facts don’t support the industry’s position. Rates have risen slower in South Carolina and Tennessee than they have in North Carolina. Both those states switched to comparative negligence in the early 1990s.
If you have been involved in an accident, contact the North Carolina injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Lee & Smith today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 800-887-1965.