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How Legal Concepts Of Contributory And Gross Negligence May Affect Your Injury Case

Personal injury claims in North Carolina are governed by specific statutes and legal tort concepts, some dating back decades or even centuries. Understanding these matters can help you as you maneuver through the personal injury litigation process. Based on over 30 years of practice, Hensley Cloninger & Greer, P.C., explains such complex doctrines as simple negligence, gross negligence, contributory negligence and comparative negligence, and how these concepts affect your case.

What Is Pure Contributory Negligence?

Contributory negligence describes a legal defense often used in personal injury cases. Under this doctrine, a plaintiff who contributed to her or his own injuries cannot recover compensation. This is called pure contributory negligence if a plaintiff who is even 1% at fault is barred from recovery. North Carolina is one of only a handful of states to abide by this draconian concept when considering liability in medical malpractice and personal injury claims.

Under the comparative negligence concept, the plaintiff’s fault does not completely bar recovery of compensation. Instead, the amount of damages is reduced by the percentage of blame attributed to the plaintiff. Therefore, a damages award of $100,000 would be reduced by $5,000 if the plaintiff is found to be five percent at fault for the accident.

What Is Gross Negligence?

Culpability is typically determined by negligence, which means the defendant fell below a recognized standard of care. For example, to prevail on a medical malpractice claim, the patient must prove that the doctor acted in a manner inconsistent with the accepted standard of care that a similarly situated medical professional would have provided. That is, an oncologist who initially failed to detect breast cancer might be found liable for negligent medical care.

As opposed to simple negligence, gross negligence refers to the total disregard for the safety of human life and health. For instance, a corporation that knowingly sells deli meat to consumers after discovering listeria contamination might be accused of gross negligence.

Learn About Laws That Shed Light On Your Personal Injury Matter

For more information about North Carolina’s negligence statutes, call Hensley Cloninger & Greer, P.C., at 828-585-6558 or contact us online. Our lawyers offer you a free initial consultation and handles your injury claim on contingency – meaning you do not pay us until we recover money for you. You can schedule an after-hours appointment with us if you cannot visit at regular office hours.