North Carolina Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Pedestrian Accident Finding that Plaintiff was Contributorily Negligent

If you are injured in a car accident or pedestrian accident it is critical for you to know your rights and to understand whether the person who caused your injuries owes you compensation. There are countless doctrines and laws that are involved in a personal injury accident, which can make the process seem incredibly overwhelming. At Maurer Law, our seasoned Raleigh car accident lawyers are prepared to help you navigate the legal system as efficiently and smoothly as possible while ensuring that you receive the fair outcome that you deserve.

A recent case involved a pedestrian accident in which the plaintiff, a pedestrian, was attempting to cross the street. The plaintiff stepped into the roadway in front of an SUV that had come to a stop in the road because of accumulating traffic in its lane. As the plaintiff stepped into the road, she peered around the front of the SUV to see if the lane was clear. The SUV driver blew its horn and the plaintiff decided to run across the road. The defendant’s vehicle, which was traveling in the lane adjacent to the lane in which the SUV was stopped, immediately struck the plaintiff.

The plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that the defendant was negligent in hitting the plaintiff. The defendant moved for summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent by running out into the road. The lower court agreed and granted the motion. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that there were questions of fact regarding whether she was contributorily negligent and whether the doctrine of last clear chance applied.

The appellate court upheld the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim. It first noted that under North Carolina law pedestrians must yield the right of way to oncoming traffic and have a duty to keep a lookout in areas where vehicles travel. Because the plaintiff did not keep a clear lookout to see the defendant’s vehicle approaching, the plaintiff was deemed contributorily negligent. North Carolina has created an exception to this situation where the plaintiff can show that the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the accident. It has to be a clear chance to avoid the accident, however, not a mere possibility of avoidance. The doctrine does not apply where the injury victim was at all times in control of the danger and simply chose to take a risk.

Applied here, the appellate court concluded that the plaintiff was in control of the entire situation and that even had the defendant been able to see the plaintiff darting into the lane the defendant did not owe her a duty. The defendant had no opportunity to slow her vehicle when she saw the plaintiff, who darted out in front of the defendant’s vehicle.

If you were injured in a car accident or pedestrian accident, it is important for you to understand your legal options and whether you are entitled to compensation. We know just how confusing this process can seem, especially if you are dealing with devastating injuries and other disruptions in your life like missing work. We provide a free consultation to discuss your situation so call us at 844-817-8058 or contact us online to get started.