In almost all automobile accidents, it is essential to prove the fault of the liable party (who made a mistake and was negligent). Even if you’re sure that the other driver was at fault, it still is not enough to hold the at-fault party financially responsible for your injuries. You need to prove it by showing evidence. This is where legal assistance from a seasoned lawyer in North Carolina may be required. A lawyer can help navigate you through the process and collect the necessary evidence to prove the fault of the other driver after a car accident.
Before we list down the steps to prove fault, here’s the tricky car accident fault law in North Carolina that you need to know:
Contributory Negligence—North Carolina’s Car Accident Fault Law
Unlike most other states, North Carolina uses the contributory negligence law to determine fault after an automobile accident. Under this law, any driver involved in the accident whose actions in any way contributed to the crash may not receive compensation.
For example: suppose you’re driving at eight miles over the speed limit, and all of a sudden, another driver in front of you takes a left turn when you still have the right of way, and this causes a crash. In such a scenario, if the court finds you even 5 to 10 percent at fault, you will not get any amount in compensation. Thus, even if your carelessness or negligence is minimal, you may not be entitled to compensation.
Prove Fault After a Car Accident
To receive compensation as a victim of a car accident in the state of North Carolina, you need to prove that the accident was entirely the fault of the other driver. In other words, the other driver was at fault 100 percent. However, this isn’t as easy and may require the expertise of an experienced lawyer.
Our car accident lawyers in North Carolina is knowledgeable and has the resources needed to help you prove the negligence of the other driver. Here are some of the best ways to prove fault:
If you have any photographs of the accident scene, then they might help. However, if you don’t, then our lawyer will seek visual evidence from CCTV cameras, video footage from storefronts, and red light cameras. Visual evidence is crucial to collect and present because it is difficult to argue with visual evidence of the accident.
Testimony of the Witnesses
Testimonies are valuable as they can play a pivotal role in proving the fault of the other driver. Therefore, if you have gathered the phone numbers of the witnesses, then our attorney can reach out to them to speak on your behalf and ensure that their story is offered to provide evidence to support your case.
Law Enforcement Officer Report
After you’re in an accident, a law enforcement officer is likely to arrive and write a detailed police report of the accident scene. This report is written from an objective perspective and also documents the events of the accident precisely. Hence, this report can play a crucial role in proving fault after a car accident. Our lawyers can ask the traffic division of your local law enforcement agency to get a copy of the police report.
Exceptions to North Carolina’s Contributory Negligence Laws
There are some exceptions to the contributory negligence law. These are:
Last Clear Chance
You may qualify for this exception if you, the victim, can show that the defendant or the party at-fault had the last clear chance to prevent the accident from occurring. The defendant can be held responsible regardless of the victim’s contributory negligence. In other words, you, the plaintiff, may still recover the damages if the defendant had a chance to avoid the accident.
However, generally, the plaintiff must prove five things. These are:
- The plaintiff negligently put himself in a dangerous situation
- The plaintiff could not escape the dangerous situation
- The defendant was aware of the danger to the plaintiff and could have avoided it
- However, the defendant failed to avoid the danger and
- Thus the plaintiff got injured
Gross Negligence or Willful and Wanton Conduct
Another situation where an exception to the contributory negligence law may be given is when the other driver’s actions can be categorized as egregious or appalling. Let us explain:
Gross negligence arises when the other driver acts carelessly and with disregard for other’s safety, consciously. Likewise, willful and wanton conduct shows that the other party had both intentionally and consciously disregarded the safety of other motorists in a way that they knew that injuries are likely to happen.
For instance, if Person A hits the car of Person B intentionally in road rage, it might not matter whether Person B was driving over or far under the speed limit. Therefore, in this situation, Person B’s negligence may be overlooked and excused due to Person A’s willful and wanton conduct.
Age and Diminished Mental Capacity
This is yet another exception to the contributory negligence law in North Carolina. This exception may apply if the injured individual is too young to be held responsible or has a diminished mental capacity.
For example, consider the situation if a five-year-old child runs into the street and gets hit by a speeding car. Although the child’s negligence is likely to contribute to their injuries, due to their age it can be assumed that they don’t have the capacity or knowledge to understand the consequences of getting hit by a car or running in a busy street. Also, the same exception may apply to an adult with mental impairment.
For more information on how to prove fault after a car accident or the exceptions to the contributory negligence laws, get in touch with us. Our lawyer will review your case in detail, and help you to determine the best course of legal action.