If you are injured in a rear-end collision, you may assume that the driver who hit the back of your vehicle will automatically be found to be at fault. In most cases, your assumption would be correct; however, there are some circumstances where the driver in front may share some responsibility.
Two North Carolina rules of law may come into play in a rear-end collision case. The first is called contributory negligence and this covers situations where more than one party in an accident bears some responsibility for the crash. Many states follow a comparative negligence rule where a person who bears less than 50 percent of the responsibility for an accident may still recover damages for his injuries.
North Carolina is one of only five jurisdictions (along with Alabama, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) that follows the contributory negligence rule, which bars any recovery if an injured party bears any responsibility at all for an accident. Even if the other driver was 90 percent at fault and you were only 10 percent at fault, the contributory negligence rule bars any recovery.
If the driver whose car was hit from behind failed to repair broken brake lights, or suddenly stopped in a traffic lane with no warning, he may be found partially responsible for the accident, and be barred from pursuing any claim for damages against the other driver.
Last Clear Chance
The second rule of law is called the “Last Clear Chance” doctrine. If the person who hit you argues that you were contributorily negligent, you still may have a chance for recovery if the other driver knew or should have known the danger, had a clear chance to avoid it, and failed to do so.
In the broken brake light example, if the other driver could have stopped in time, but failed to do so because he was texting, drunk, or speeding, you may still have a chance to recover from his insurance company.
Never Admit Fault
The bottom line? Never admit fault, even if you run into the back of another car, and never assume that you have no chance to get compensation for your injuries. After an accident in which you or a loved one is injured, talk to one of the accident attorneys at Campbell & associates. You may be surprised to find that you do have options after all.
We offer free case evaluations and do not charge a fee unless we can win a settlement or verdict for you. Call today – 704-326-7243.