The North Carolina Law That Harms Pedestrians and Bicycle Riders
City Lab recently published a report on four states with laws that render a bicycle or a pedestrian accident is "especially harrowing" for motorists. Unfortunately North Carolina is one of those four states. The problem for pedestrians and for bicycle riders is the difficulty of making an injury claim under contributory negligence rules. Contributory negligence rules say that if a pedestrian is at all responsible for causing an accident, the pedestrian cannot recover compensation from the driver.
Because of North Carolina's rules, it is imperative for victims of pedestrian accidents to ensure they are able to prove that a driver is 100 percent responsible for the accident. This means pedestrians should get legal help right away following a collision so they can gather the evidence they need to show who was at fault.
The majority of states have abandoned contributory negligence. Instead, they use comparative fault rules. While comparative fault rules differ from place to place, generally they make it possible for pedestrians to get at least partial compensation from a driver who is partly responsible for causing a crash. With contributory negligence rules, on the other hand, a pedestrian who made a small mistake which contributed in any way to causing the accident could have a hard time getting compensation.
There are only four states which impose this harsh rule on pedestrians and bicycle riders: North Carolina, Maryland, Alabama, and Virginia. Washington D.C. also has this type of rule in place, although City Lab indicates a change is being considered to provide better protection to pedestrians in the D.C. area. Within these states, pedestrians may be left uncompensated for serious crash injuries.
Crash victims should do everything they can to try to pin the blame squarely on drivers if the motorist is at fault. An investigation should begin as soon as possible soon after the crash.
Pedestrians should also make sure they aren't engaging in any type of unsafe behavior which could possibly make them at fault for an accident. Distracted walking has increasingly become an issue, as walkers may be listening to their music or on their phones and may not see oncoming traffic. Pedestrians should do their best to avoid negligent behaviors, so that they can avoid dealing with contributory negligence rules should an accident occur.