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What is Contributory Negligence?

When someone refers to the state of North Carolina having contributory negligence, what exactly are they saying? In a nutshell, if it can be proven that someone contributed to their own injury, only a little bit, they will be barred from any kind of recovery.

Let’s put this in a real life example:
Let’s say Bill takes off on his motorcycle for a ride. He makes his way into the city where he is going to go grab some lunch. Bill is nearing a gas station when all of a sudden a black SUV pulls out in front of him. Bill crashes into the side of the SUV. Bill suffers some pretty bad, but not life threatening injuries. On the surface, it looks like the the driver of the SUV is totally at fault or at least has the lion’s share of the negligence, but in North Carolina this does not matter at all. When Bill’s case goes to trial, it is found that he contributed to his own injuries because of his failure to keep a proper lookout while riding his motorcycle. Bill is barred from any kind of recovery for his injuries.

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