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Photo of Joshua Nielsen
Photo of Joshua Nielsen

How does contributory negligence affect wrongful death recovery?

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2020 | car accidents

If you are initiating a wrongful death lawsuit against another party, you must prove negligence caused your loved one’s death. The court may then hold a company or an individual liable for a wrongful action that led to the fatality.

North Carolina’s civil law follows the pure contributory negligence rule. In order for your suit to end in your favor, a jury must find that the deceased individual did not contribute to the accident in any way.

Barring a plaintiff’s recovery

Under North Carolina law, your lawsuit may not move forward without showing how the other party contributed 100% to causing the accident. As noted by The Fayetteville Observer, if a harmed individual contributed as little as 1% of the fault, a jury could decide against awarding damages.

In the case of a struck pedestrian, for example, the respondent to the suit may attempt to show that the harmed individual unexpectedly darted out in front of a moving vehicle in the dark. Other defenses could include a claim that a pedestrian’s level of intoxication contributed to the accident.

Proving fault and recovering damages

In addition to showing that the harmed individual contributed 0% to the accident, a negligence claim generally requires proving another party owed a duty of care to take action or follow precautions to prevent harm to others. For a North Carolina court to decide in favor of the plaintiff, a jury must determine that the other party breached a duty of care through inaction or carelessness.

If you lose a loved one due to another party’s negligence, you could find yourself facing pressing financial issues on top of your grief and loss of companionship. Although no amount of compensation can bring your loved one back, a legal action may help you move forward with fewer concerns over monetary realities.