How Do Courts Determine Negligence?

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February 9, 2017
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How Do Courts Determine Negligence?

Negligence is a legal term that you hear a lot in auto accident cases. North Carolina operates on the contributory negligence rule, which means if you were negligent and that negligence contributed to your injury, the court won’t award you any damages. By the way, only four states still use contributory negligence, unlike most states where courts compare all parties’ negligence and award based on percentage of fault.

Invariably, the other side in an auto accident case tries to prove that your negligence contributed to your injuries. In a contributory negligence state, the most important argument lawyers present is whether your actions fall under the definition of negligence. When ruling on cases involving negligence, courts refer to other cases that set precedents, and such cases establish case laws. For example, in the case Tyburski v. Stewart, Tyburski stepped into a sunroom attached to a house and locked himself in the sunroom because the door locked and unlocked only from inside the house. When trying to figure out how to get out of the sunroom, he broke a window and suffered injury. He knew about the door lock problem and had remembered to leave the sunroom door open on other occasions. The court ruled that Tyburski’s momentary forgetfulness didn’t mean a failure to exercise care for his safety (negligence). In fact, the court referred to a previous case (Dennis v. Albermarle) where that court found that “circumstances may exist under which forgetfulness or inattention to a known danger may be consistent with the exercise of ordinary care…” Even though a person knows about an existing danger and previously avoided it, courts still hold property owners as negligent for not repairing the hazard.

Whether you think your actions contributed to your own accident injury or not, you should consult with an experienced accident lawyer at John F. Hanzel P.A. Our skilled attorneys have knowledge of case laws that may apply to your situation and can evaluate whether you have a case or not.