Pedestrian Accidents and Contributory Negligence in North Carolina

January 24, 2023 | By Riddle & Brantley Accident Injury Lawyers
Pedestrian Accidents and Contributory Negligence in North Carolina

How Does Contributory Negligence Affect Pedestrian Accident Cases in NC?

The laws in North Carolina are strict and only allow pedestrians who have been hit by a motor vehicle to sue for damages in civil court if they were 100% not to blame for the accident. If it can be shown that any negligence on your part contributed to the incident that resulted in your injuries (i.e., "contributory negligence"), you will be barred by NC law from pursuing a personal injury lawsuit for damages.

With an attorney on your side, you can defeat a contributory negligence defense in a pedestrian accident case.

While on paper, the law may seem stacked against pedestrian accident victims, the reality is that plaintiffs in these kinds of injury cases win substantial compensation all the time.

The key is to have the right pedestrian accident attorney advocating on your behalf. The team at Riddle & Brantley knows how to investigate every aspect of a pedestrian-car collision and use the evidence to build a strong case against the at-fault parties. Insurance companies will often try to falsely place blame on the victim, which is why you need a staunch advocate on your side who will set the record straight and fully protect your rights.

What Is Contributory Negligence?

In personal injury cases, the legal doctrine of contributory negligence refers to a defendant’s ability to avoid liability if the accident victim contributed in any way to the incident.

Very few states follow a pure contributory negligence standard, but North Carolina is one of them. That means if the accident victim was even 1 percent responsible for the circumstances surrounding the accident, they cannot recover damages from the responsible party.

In most states, a comparative negligence standard is used. When a victim is partly responsible for the accident resulting in their injuries, their award is reduced by the percentage the jury deems contributory. If the victim is found 10 percent responsible, for example, the award is reduced by that amount, so a $100,000 award becomes $90,000.

North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, meaning if you are even partially responsible for an accident, you can be barred from recovery.

In North Carolina, any contributory negligence means the victim is out of luck. It may not seem fair, but it is the law. This is why it is so important to have a pedestrian accident attorney on your side with experience practicing in the state. You need a law firm that can build a strong evidence-based claim for damages and successfully refute insurance companies that will try to take advantage of the law by victim-blaming.

Examples of Pedestrian Accident Contributory Negligence

Pedestrians must follow the traffic laws in North Carolina or risk losing the right to file a lawsuit if they are hit by a motor vehicle. Ignorance of traffic laws is not an excuse, even though there are no training or licensing requirements for pedestrians.

Some examples of contributory negligence are obvious. For instance, pedestrians cannot walk in the middle of the street rather than on the sidewalk or on the side of the road. Additionally, crossing the road when the pedestrian did not have a walk signal and the driver had a green light could attach some degree of negligence to the pedestrian.

Drunk driving is illegal, but so is crossing in the middle of the road rather than at a crosswalk. The drunk driver is negligent, but so is the pedestrian they hit who is crossing illegally.

In short, any sort of infraction relating to state traffic laws could imperil the ability of pedestrian accident victims to sue.

When Drivers Must Yield to Pedestrians

Under North Carolina law, drivers must yield to pedestrians under the following circumstances:

  • At intersections without traffic signals
  • At mid-block crosswalks without traffic signals
  • When the pedestrian crosses at marked crosswalks
  • When the pedestrian crosses at unmarked crosswalks near intersections
  • Upon entering or exiting driveways, parking lots, or building entrances

Contact a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

Pedestrians hit by vehicles weighing thousands of pounds often sustain major life-changing injuries. They can face mounting medical bills, rehabilitation, long-term or permanent impairment, the inability to work, and serious financial pressures. Many face the further insult of having insurance companies being untruthful in blaming them for the very incident that has done so much to turn their lives upside down.

Don’t wait — the longer you wait, the harder it may be to prove liability and get you the compensation you deserve. Call 1-800-525-7111 today and let an experienced pedestrian accident attorney at Riddle & Brantley review your case for free.

“They handled my case very professionally, with respect from beginning to end.”

-Joseph P., Riddle & Brantley client

If you or someone you know were seriously hurt in a pedestrian accident, you need the services of an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer at Riddle & Brantley. Schedule a free, no-obligation case review today. Because we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless you receive compensation.

Case Results

  • $1,900,000 — Our attorneys recovered $1.9 million in compensation for our client, who was struck by a cement truck while crossing a parking lot on foot. We brought in an accident reconstructionist to prove liability and settled the claim prior to trial (see disclaimer below).
  • $1,625,000 — Riddle & Brantley was hired by an out-of-state law firm to assist in this case, in which our client was hit by a car when crossing a busy street at night. In this case, the defendant’s insurance company claimed the contributory negligence defense and attempted to bar our client from recovery. We hired an accident reconstructionist, reviewed the accident report, and spoke w/ witnesses in our successful effort to overcome the contributory negligence defense. The claim ultimately settled for $1.625 million in favor of our client (see disclaimer below).
  • $700,000 — Attorney Gene Riddle secured a significant settlement for two young boys who were hit while crossing the street near their school. Injuries suffered included a broken leg, brain injury, and some paralysis. The defendant was an undocumented immigrant and was convicted and deported, but we also made a claim against the school based on our alleged negligence of a crossing guard (see disclaimer below).

We believe Justice Counts and will fight to get the results you deserve. Please call 1-800-525-7111 and let’s review your claim.

*** Disclaimer: The results mentioned are intended to illustrate the type of cases handled by the firm. These results do not guarantee a similar outcome, and they should not be construed to constitute a promise or guarantee of a particular result in any particular case. Every case is different, and the outcome of any case depends upon a variety of factors unique to that case.