Chris Layton

If you slip and fall in Charlotte, North Carolina—or anywhere in North Carolina—you’re going to hear a lot about contributory negligence. Contributory negligence is a legal term and in North Carolina, it means that if the injured party was 1% or more at fault, the entire case can get ‘thrown out’ and there is no recovery for damages. Don’t let it scare you.

Every insurance adjuster and insurance company attorney is trained to raise contributory negligence as a defense. While it is still in effect in North Carolina, it should not keep you from making a claim against the insured’s policy, or even litigating a slip and fall case.

Addressing Contributory Negligence In Negotiations

Your Charlotte, North Carolina personal injury attorney will navigate the discussion around contributory negligence with the insurance adjuster. Insurance companies know they would have to prove that the injured party contributed somehow to the slip and fall, and that represents risk on their side. Truthfully, the insurance company wants to avoid the courtroom, so the mention of contributory negligence is typically meant to defend a lower settlement offer from the insurance adjuster.

Your personal injury attorney will remind the insurance adjuster that even in courtroom settings where a jury is presented with instructions to deny recovery if the injured party is 1% or more at fault, what juries typically do instead is lower the recovery amount given to the injured party. The “all or nothing” nature of contributory negligence is negated in those cases.

Establishing Liability in Slip and Fall Claims

Once you get beyond the contributory negligence discussion, the insurance adjuster will defend their low settlement offer with the claim that their client has no liability—they are not responsible for the injury. It’s difficult to prove liability in a slip and fall case because whether it’s due to spilled yogurt on a grocery store floor, or an inventory pallet left in the middle of an aisle, by the time the attorney and insurance adjuster are discussing it, the physical surroundings in the store have of course changed.

Key Factors In Establishing Conditions

If you slip and fall in an establishment in North Carolina, take care to do the following:

— Take photos. We are all walking around with cameras on our phones. Take close-up photos and a few far away shots of where the accident happened, to establish the conditions.

— Report the slip and fall. By reporting the slip and fall to the store manager, you are creating a written record that you were actually there on that day, and fell, on that day.

— Take down employees names. If at all possible, write down the names of employees on the floor at that time. Months later when an attorney is trying to research the claim for you, this information will be priceless.

–Take down name and phone numbers for witnesses. Witnesses who are not related to you can do a lot to bolster your claim. Even if your claim never sees the inside of a courtroom, if the insurance company knows you have a credible witness, they will value the claim more because the chance of establishing liability of their insured is increased.

If you slip and fall in North Carolina, call us at 704.749.7747 for guidance. We’re here to help and the call is free.