Martin & Jones, PLLC
Call today for a Free consultation.

Contributory negligence law allows negligent contractor to avoid responsibility for workplace injury

Over the last two weeks, our firm represented a man who lost his leg in a workplace injury. Everyone agreed the workplace was exceedingly dangerous. Worker's compensation paid for his medical bills and provided him with a modest income for a period of time.

Eventually, our client settled with his worker's compensation carrier in what is called a clincher agreement. The clincher agreement meant that they paid a lump sum of money so they would no longer have to pay for his medical care in the future or for his weekly wage. A good portion of that money had to be set aside to cover future medical costs so that Medicare would not be responsible. Because of his limited education and skills, our client receives a very small amount in Social Security Disability. He will also receive Medicare.

Our firm represented this 30 year old man with one child and four stepchildren for more than six years. His case traveled to the North Carolina Supreme Court on one issue and to the North Carolina Court of Appeals on another. Ultimately the case was tried before a jury. The jury deliberated for three days before finding the defendant negligent but our client also contributorily negligent.

In North Carolina there is the law of contributory negligence. The question presented to the jury was did the plaintiff contribute to his own injuries. After having the court reread the instructions on contributory negligence, the jury determined that our client was contributorily negligent.

After the trial, we had the opportunity to speak with the jurors. The jurors had never heard of the concept of contributory negligence and found it horribly unfair. Nevertheless, they felt constrained to find that our client was contributorily negligent. One of the jurors even stated, "Of course he contributed... he went to work that day." In other words, just the mere fact that our client went to work, in that juror's mind, meant that he 'contributed.' As you can see, the law of North Carolina is that even though the defendant was found negligent, the taxpayers will have to provide a modest livelihood for our client instead of the negligent party.

A number of consumer oriented organizations attempted to convince the North Carolina legislature to do away with the unjust law of contributory negligence. Unfortunately, consumers cannot stand against the owners of big business, the Chamber of Commerce and influential insurance companies.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information


Contact US Get Help Now

Send us an email or call us today at 800-662-1234 to speak with an attorney about your claim or to arrange a free consultation. It costs nothing to call and there is no obligation. In fact, we are not paid until your case is resolved. Se habla espaƱol. If you are unable to travel to one of our offices in Raleigh, Durham and Wilmington, we will meet with you at your location.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Raleigh Office
410 Glenwood Avenue
Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27603

Toll Free: 800-662-1234
Phone: 919-821-0005
Raleigh Law Office Map

Wilmington Office
1213 Culbreth Drive
Suite 121
Wilmington, NC 28405

Toll Free: 800-662-1234
Phone: 910-256-4005
Wilmington Law Office Map

Durham Office
302 East Pettigrew Street
Suite 330
Durham, NC 27701

Toll Free: 800-662-1234
Phone: 919-544-3000
Durham Law Office Map