Little mistakes and inconsequential law-breaking happen on the road every day. People forget to use their turn signals when they approach an intersection. They drive too fast or tailgate when they get frustrated on the road.
While those practices may not seem significant, they can contribute to causing a crash. If you get hurt or total your vehicle in a collision where someone else ran a red light or had their phone in their hand, you probably think that they or their insurance company will have to pay for your losses. However, your mistakes on the road might impact your legal rights.
Your bad habits could be their defense if you sue them
During a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant has the right to push back against claims that they are fully responsible for a crash. One defense technique that drivers sometimes use is to claim contributory negligence.
Basically, the driver or their attorney will tell the courts that you did something illegal, negligent or wrong right before the crash. They have the burden of proof to establish that you broke the law or did something inappropriate that contributed to the crash. Still, if they are successful in those counterclaims, you lose the ability to ask for compensation.
North Carolina has a pure contributory negligence law that states that anyone even partially responsible for a crash can’t hold anyone else financially responsible in a court of law. Thankfully, you don’t have to just accept allegations of contributory negligence. Instead, you can counter such claims with your own defense while establishing your claim against the driver who injured you or damaged your property.