We recently asked you to write to your state senators in support of legislation that would change how automobile accident claims and other personal injury cases are handled in court.
While we still believe that North Carolina’s use of contributory negligence in personal injury cases is antiquated, harsh and punishes injured people, we can no longer support the version of HB 813 now being debated by state lawmakers. Quite simply, some the the provisions that have been added to the bill as it has made its way through the N.C. General Assembly do not protect the interests of injured people.
So, we must join the N.C. Advocates for Justice in withdrawing our support for HB 813.
As a law firm that advocates for injured people, we still believe that North Carolina must move away from contributory negligence and toward comparative fault in these cases, the compromise bill currently proposed sacrifices too much
North Carolina is one of only four states that allow the doctrine of contributory negligence as a defense in auto accident and other personal injury cases. Contributory negligence is a harsh and outdated way of denying help to people hurt in accidents. Under current law, if you’re even 1 percent responsible for an accident, you CANNOT recover damages from the person who injured you, even if that person is 99 percent at fault.
The original HB 813, which we supported, sought to correct that injustice by switching from contributory negligence to comparative fault. Under the comparative fault doctrine, juries determine how much fault lies with each party in the accident and then award damages based on those percentages. The injured party is allowed to recover only that percentage of damage caused by the other person. Under the much fairer comparative fault standard, an injured person would still be able to collect a percentage of an insurance settlement to cover medical bills and compensate for injuries. Now, these victims get nothing.