Contributory Negligence vs. Comparative Fault: The Difference Between North and South Carolina

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Contributory Negligence vs. Comparative Fault: The Difference Between North and South Carolina

Charlotte NC Auto Accident Lawyer

Accidents occur at an alarming rate throughout the country. There are also many variables in each accident making each of them unique. Some variations on accidents can include the party liable for the accident; the type of accident, whether the accident was caused by a motor vehicle or in another fashion; the type of injuries involved; the location of the accident; and numerous other variations. If the accident involves at least two parties, and one of the party’s actions accidentally injures the other party, the injured party may be able to recover damages from the negligent party. In the legal world, this is typically called a negligence cause of actions.

In order to successfully recover in a negligence cause of action, the injured party must prove several elements by a preponderance of evidence. Those elements are: duty, breach, causation, and damages. However, even if the injured party can prove the elements of negligence by a preponderance of the evidence, the amount of money the injured party receives can be reduced.

North Carolina Contributory Negligence

North Carolina follows the strictest form of the contributory negligence doctrine created through common law case decisions. The contributory negligence doctrine states that a plaintiff may not recover if his/her own negligence caused any of his/her injuries. Sorrells v. M.Y.B. Hospitality Ventures. This means that if the injured party was at fault at all, he/she will not be able to recover their damages for the injuries he/she sustained. Only a few states still follow this doctrine, as it is seen as antiquated, and it is more difficult for plaintiffs to recover compensation under this system.

South Carolina Comparative Negligence

In contrast to the contributory negligence doctrine followed by North Carolina, South Carolina follows the comparative fault doctrine. Under the South Carolina modified comparative fault laws, if the injured party’s fault is greater than 25%, the injured party will not be allowed to be compensated for his/her injuries. However, if the injured party’s fault is less than fifty percent, the amount of damages awarded by the jury will be reduced by the injured party’s fault.


  • Damages: $100,000
  • Defendant’s Fault: 75%
  • Injured Party’s Fault: 25%
  • Calculation: 100,000 x .25 (25%) = 25,000
  • Total Damages Awarded to the Plaintiff = $75,000

 As the example above shows, the injured party was 25% at fault, and therefore that amount was deducted from the damages.

Contact an Attorney at Bice Law LLC

If you or a loved one is injured in North Carolina or South Carolina, to avoid further aggravation of injury, seek immediate medical attention and then contact an experienced personal injury attorney by calling 877-BICE-877 or online to schedule a free consultation. An experienced personal injury attorney at Bice Law, LLC knows the differing laws and will help you to understand the legal process during a difficult time. Our attorneys are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer any questions you may have regarding your possible lawsuit. Having a seasoned attorney on your side can provide comfort and a sense of understanding throughout the difficult legal process.

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