Overview of North Carolina Liability Laws

Concerned personal injury attorneys want you to be fully informed

At Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban, we believe that when you are well informed, you can make better decisions about your personal injury case. Our knowledgeable attorneys explain the law to you patiently and thoroughly. We know how much your case matters to your future, and we want you to be comfortable pursuing a strategy that leads to a successful outcome. Personal injury cases hinge on proving that someone is liable for injuries. So, it’s important that you understand how liability law operates in North Carolina.

How liability relates to negligence in North Carolina

Negligence is the failure to act with the proper amount of care that an occasion requires. When one person’s negligence causes an injury or wrongful death of another person, the negligent person is liable for the injuries. Liability is the legal responsibility to compensate another person for losses. However, liability in personal injury law is not quite as simple as “You broke it, you bought it.” There are several other considerations, such as:

 Contributory negligence — At times, the victim’s own carelessness leads directly to the harm he suffers. In North Carolina, any percentage of contributory negligence is a complete bar to recovery if it is a proximate cause to the accident. An example would be an intoxicated person darting across an intersection against the traffic light and being struck by a car. A court could rule that the drunken jaywalker was the person at fault, not the driver, and could dismiss the case without any compensation. Some individuals, because of tender age or cognitive impairment, may be judged legally incapable of contributory negligence.

  • Last clear chance — This rule serves to counterbalance the rule of contributory negligence. The defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries if:
    • the plaintiff acted carelessly to place himself in a position of peril, but
    • the defendant knew or should have known that the plaintiff was in peril, and
    • the defendant had the time and means to avoid acting to harm the plaintiff, but
    • because of negligence the defendant missed that chance.


In the above example, if it was broad daylight and a car in the near lane managed to stop for the jaywalker, but in the far lane a driver was sending a text message and didn’t see him, that driver would be liable for the jaywalker’s injuries.


  • Joint and several liability — This rule applies in cases where there is more than one defendant responsible for a plaintiff’s injuries. There is one damage award for which they are jointly liable. However, if one defendant is insolvent, or becomes insolvent after paying a portion of the judgment, the plaintiff may collect the entire amount (or the amount remaining) from the other defendant.
  • Peculiar susceptibility — In most cases, the defendant who harms a plaintiff is responsible for all the harmful effects that his negligence causes. So, a plaintiff who punches a person in the nose is responsible for brain damage that results, even if the brain damage occurred because of the plaintiff’s unusual weakness and the blow would only have caused most people to suffer a bloody nose. However, a defendant who makes harmless contact that would not cause any harm to a normal individual is not liable for harm that resulted from the plaintiff’s unusual vulnerability.


If you want to know how to file a claim or are concerned about the cost of filing, our attorneys can put your mind at ease. We’re here to provide the aggressive representation you need to obtain the full compensation you deserve. But you should get started as quickly as possible, to avoid any issues with the statute of limitations and to allow your attorney to gather evidence while it is still fresh.

Contact an experienced attorney who knows how to prove liability

Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban employs full-time investigators, who help us assemble the evidence to determine liability. We have several convenient locations, where you can speak to a knowledgeable attorney, or we can visit your home or hospital room. To schedule a free consultation, call (888) 351-1038 or contact our office online.