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North Carolina Negligence Laws

Negligence in General

Most personal injury cases hinge on the legal theory of "negligence," whereby an individual who owes a duty to another fails to exercise a certain degree of care, causing injury. For instance, a restaurant whose cook fails to check the temperature of a roasted chicken may be held negligent for the diners' resulting food poisoning.The defendant is only liable if he or she owes a particular duty to the plaintiff. For instance, if a diner with celiac disease fails to mention this to the restaurant staff and ends up ingesting gluten (which people with celiac disease can't consume), then it is the diner's fault.

Negligence in North Carolina at a Glance

North Carolina negligence laws follow the doctrine of contributory negligence, which bars recovery by the plaintiff if he or she is partially at fault. The majority of other states follow the doctrine of comparable negligence, in which the amount of damages is reduced in proportion to the plaintiff's degree of fault.

The following chart highlights some of the main provisions of North Carolina's negligence laws. See Negligence: Background for a general overview.

Code Section None
Comparative Negligence No
Contributory Negligence-Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery Plaintiff may not recover damages if even partially at fault.
Contribution Among Tortfeasors Yes; §§1B-1 to 1B-6
Uniform Act §1B-1 to 1B-6

Note: State laws are subject to change at any time, usually through the enactment of newly signed legislation but sometimes through higher court decisions and other means. Make sure you contact a North Carolina personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

What are the Elements of a Negligence Case?

Negligence is a fairly standardized cause of action, so the elements required to establish liability are quite uniform from one state to the next. Generally, the elements of a negligence case are:

  1. Defendant owed a duty to commit an act or refrain from committing an act
  2. Defendant breached this duty
  3. This breach of duty caused injury to the plaintiff
  4. Defendant's actions (or inactions) were the proximate cause of the injury (the defendant should have known that this action could have caused injuries)
  5. Plaintiff suffered actual damages (i.e., lost wages, hospital bills, etc.)

Research the Law

North Carolina Negligence Laws: Related Resources

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