Under North Carolina law, a jury can take into consideration whether a plaintiff’s own negligence was a contributing factor in causing his or her injuries. This is often one of the defenses that a defendant will assert in a personal injury case in an attempt to avoid paying damages. If the defendant is successful in establishing that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent, the defendant will not be required to pay damages. At Maurer Law, we can assist you in protecting your right to recovery and securing the outcome that you deserve.
A recent appellate opinion discussed the doctrine of contributory negligence. The plaintiff went with his fraternity to a state park that included a picnic area with a pier that extended several hundred feet into the middle of the lake. The plaintiff decided to take a swim one morning and went to the pier. The water was dark and he could not ascertain the depth. There were no signs regarding the depth of the lake, but he recalled seeing boats on the lake and various indications that swimming from the pier was acceptable. He also saw the metal ladders leading from the pier into the water. The plaintiff and his friends also threw rocks into the water in an attempt to determine its depth.
The plaintiff ultimately dove off the pier and struck the bottom of the lake with his head resulting in sharp pain in his right arm and torso stiffness. He ultimately required spinal surgery and spent six weeks in a cranial halo, although he lacked sensation in his right side and lower right extremity.