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TROUBLESHOOTERS: Contributory negligence

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- If you're driving out of town for the holidays, you will share the road with thousands of drivers. Be careful. In North Carolina, an old law on the books could make it difficult for you to get any compensation if you're in an accident. One Wilmington woman found out the hard way.

Peggy Williams has a 2010 Pontiac Vibe. It's a new car, now with some minor damage on the rear passenger side after an accident in October.

"Next thing I know we feel this boom, and everybody is going, 'What in the world is that?' and I'm looking, and this guy ran into me and backed into the side of my car," Williams said.

She was backing up in the parking lot of Casey's Buffet to pull into a parking space she had passed. Another driver backing out of a parking space hit her.

When williams contacted Nationwide, the other driver's insurance company, it wouldn't pay.

"They're saying we're both negligent, because we were both backing up," William said. "Now they don't want to pay my claim."

And they don't have to, because of North Carolina's contributory negligence law.

"North Carolina is one of four states in the union that has an old contributory negligence law," attorney and state senator-elect Thom Goolsby said. "Most states are comparative fault, which means you're responsible for your percentage of fault in an accident."

It's a gray area, but if you're at fault at all, you can be barred from collecting anything. But that may change during the long session of the General Assembly. Goolsby said there's a bill that would turn North Carolina, like most other states, into a comparative fault state.

"If it will make the system easier and more fair and keep these gray areas out and be able to resolve these cases easier, I would be all for it," Goolsby, a Wilmington Republican, said.

Until then, drivers like Williams are left with a damaged car, unless they want to have their own insurance company pick up the tab.

Williams did not call the police, so she does not have an accident report. Goolsby recommends calling police if you do get into an accident. They can help document what happened, and it can be extremely helpful if they cite the other driver and not you.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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YOU DO NOT PASS A PARKING

YOU DO NOT PASS A PARKING SPOT.... STOP IN THE RIGHT HAND LANE OR FLOW OF A TRAFFIC AND BACK YOUR VEHICLE IN THE RIGHT HAND LANE OR FLOW INTO A PARKING SPOT ...THAT IS AN UNSAFE VEHICLE MOVEMENT VIOLATION ....THINK ABOUT IT ...WHETHER IT BE PUBLIC OR PRIVATE PROPERTY ...YOUR GONNA STOP AND BACK IN THE FLOW OR RIGHT HAND LANE PERIOD .....YOU SHOULD HAVE KEPT GOING AND CIRCLED AROUND THE PARKING LOT AND THEN PULLED YOUR VEHICLE INTO THE PARKING SPOT FRONT END FIRST ...(CASEY NOT GONE RUN OUTTA DEM PIGS FEET IT ALL U CAN EAT AN THEY DO GOT A SMALL PARKIN LOT THAT PEOPLE WANNA JUS RUN UP INTO REAL HURRIEDLY AND TRY AND PARK AT THE FRONT DOOR SO THEY CAN RUN IN THERE AND GET FIRST IN LINE AT THAT BUFFET )....

Moral/Nationwide Insurance

The moral of the story is this. If you are involved in even the slightest incident, from a fender bender to the idiot in the parking lot who throws open their car door as if nothing else is around and dents your car, and the person that hits you has Nationwide Insurance FORGET just exchanging insurance information and IMMEDIATELY call for a police officer. Better you waste some of their valuable time making a report and giving their learned opinion than you have to allow people and a company that are too tunnel visioned on how to rob people of payments on legitimate claims because they lack the morals it would take to make a rational decision-oh, Johnny is dead but it is contributory negligence because you put him in the car to take him to the doctor...no claim! If this claim is in any way close to being representative of their business practices; it is my opinion and that of others that Nationwide Insurance is morally bankrupt. It is amazing how much conversation any type of complaint about insurance can muster up.

No Idiot Payouts

Wilmington drivers are the most careless and selfish drivers I have ever seen. I have lived in big cities like Los Angeles and Philadelphia and never have I seen more drivers assume everyone else will drive defensively so they can be reckless.

In the case above both drivers were either not paying attention to their surroundings (careless) or assumed the other would concede the right of way (selfish.) Neither of these parties deserves payment. If every careless, selfish driver got a pay out for their actions the result would be much higher premiums for those safe drivers out there, what few remain in this area.

Too many tourists not knowing where they are going coupled with too many young drivers distracted by their cell phones combined with WAY TOO MANY ELDERLY DRIVERS who react too slow to their surroundings add up to the most dangerous area to drive in all the Carolinas. The frustration shows on the rest of us. Let the careless, selfish drivers continue to get into accidents with each other and force them to pay for their poor driving skills out of pocket. Maybe both those drivers will be a little more cautious and prevent a potentially fatal future accident.

IDIOTS in general

A person who is not cognizance enough to understand the spoken word should probably keep their rants to themselves, and probably really cannot comprehend the written word, but here goes anyway.... Perhaps you are a Nationwide Insurance agent taking a shot, or more likely, a horrible driver who always thinks that everyone is always in their way and should not be allowed to drive because they are in front of you obeying the law. I've never noticed, in the years that I have lived here, that there is only a handful of safe drivers in the whole of Wilmington.....I'd put my driving record up against yours any day of the week. You must be careless and selfish in all you do to have such a low opinion of soooo many people.

Well, let me tell you what

Well, let me tell you what happened to me on I-40.

In November 2007, I was driving up to Raleigh from Wilmington to pick up someone from the RDU airport. On the way up there, it was getting dark pretty early in the day, typical for the fall of the year. It got to the point where it was more dark than it was light.

I was driving in the left-hand lane, and suddenly, I came up on an object which I did not see until the very last minute, due to the time of day. I struck the object with my car, and I felt it go up under the vehicle and do damage.

Immediately stopping the car to examine the damage, I found that some genius had left a truck bed-liner halfway in the road and halfway off the road. It was of a dark color which would explain why I did not see it until the last second.

I called the Highway Patrol to ask them to remove it, and I was informed that the bed-liner had been in the road for hours and "we're sorry, but nobody's been by to get that out of the road yet". Gee, thanks, Mr. Highway Patrol guy.

So I had to file a claim on my insurance for this one-vehicle accident. My company paid out of course, but then the story gets weird.

When the insurance company filed the claim, it showed that I had a vehicle accident on my record. Over the past 3 years, when I've gone to get better insurance rates, all the companies I've been with have dinged me, charging me for a higher insurance rate based on my company's filing the claim on my behalf FOR DAMAGE COVERAGE I WAS PAYING FOR TO BEGIN WITH.

I was also questioned about it by job interviewers who did a background check and found I had an accident in November 2007, since I was going to drive the company vehicle, and I had to do some massive explaining, and they had to go through all this process of calling my insurance company and the whole nine before I would be cleared to start the job.

And all of this because NC Highway Patrol's negligence caused the accident.

I was not able to obtain any legal help in this matter either.

So I basically got the short end of the stick.

And that's my story.

This is not a contributory

This is not a contributory negligence issue. You misunderstood the point of the complaint.

What would have been the "fair" outcome?

They were both 50% at fault. It's a wash... The insurance companies should pay something though. Why have insurance if you get no money in an accident? Ridiculous.

50%

I guess you had to be there if you cannot understand what they say on the news. If a person is backing up in the driving lane of a parking lot and a person backs out of a parking space without looking behind them, and hits the side of the car, how do you get 50%. If the person who is not backing out of a space is looking behind them, as they should be, while backing up and is blindsided by someone not looking behind their car as they back out of a slot. If you were backing up, looking behind you for traffic and someone backed into the side of your car would it still be 50%.
Besides everything else where the car was hit would be in most peoples blindspot.

Been there. . .

If I run a red light and cause a collision with your car, causing you bodily harm and sending you to the hospital, my insurance company doesn't have to pay you one cent! Contributory Negligence means you caused the wreck by pulling out into an intersection that wasn't clear even tho you had the green light. I've been the victim of this very situation and my losses are tremendous. It's an archaic law from the horse and buggy days but it's still a law in North Carolina in the 21st century. One more example of politics and corruption.

determination of rule

according to the insurance commissioner of nc offices it is not totally black and white and is open to the insurance companies determination and willingness to use it knowing that it is unfair...but it can save them money...in some cases, probably blood money. apparently, most insurance companies are not using it as an absolute. too many people are saying that the only time they have heard of an insurance company being so hard core about it was this time...with nationwide insurance. other insurance companies have paid claims...allstate..state farm..farm bureau..geico..
go to church and ask the question and see how many people who do not have nationwide-or maybe even if they do- if their claims were denied using the contributory negligence rule
i sincerely hope things have gotten better for you

If the light has just turned

If the light has just turned as a vehicle has entered the intersection, he has established right-of-way. If somebody intentionally starts off even on a green light and they tangle, probably the driver that started off will be blamed. If you run a red light after the traffic with the green starts to move...see who gets the ticket, then. Sounds like you ran the red light.

yellow

There are three colors on a traffic light for a reason...
GREEN=GO
RED=STOP
and
YELLOW DOES NOT MEAN SPEED UP AND SEE
IF YOU CAN MAKE IT, OR IN YOUR DREAMS,
ESTABLISH RIGHT-OF-WAY.
You apparently did not understand what you read and you obviously, are not an attorney. Have you ever even taken a driving test and/or been given a license?

yellow light

The yellow light means "Clear the intersection" which means if you are in it, get out and if you have not yet entered it, keep out.

you're totally wrong

I had the green light and was 6 lanes across the road from the person who ran the light. Also, the driver admitted to running the light stating they thought they could make it. Their vehicle drug me 400 feet in another direction so how fast do you think they were going??? You have obviously not been in this situation and I'd like to hear from you if you ever are. WHOLE new game when it's you who takes all the loss. You sound like an insurance agent.

Know exactually how controbutory negligence feels

Last year in September just so happens I lost my husband due to someone's negligence but due to that wonderful law in north Carolina me and my children are left homeless, medical bills to the ceiling, funeral not paid for, and so on and so forth, my husband's murder basically got away thanks to this wonderful law in North Carolina and no way for me to pay anything thanks to the wonderful insurance company the guy had at the time of my husband's death NATIONWIDE which damn sure isn't on your side!! I have been fighting this law for well over 9 months now I've wrote the governor's the senates and I am now in the process of writing the North Carolina General Assembly to try and have this law changed. I even made a petition and have gotten well over 200 signatures all around the world voting in my favor that this law clearly needs to be changed... The more people that write personal letters and explain their experience the more attention it draws to the general assembly that this law needs to be changed.. So pick u your pens and open your hearts and put it on paper the suffering this law has caused you or your family.. We all pay taxes for these people to sit in office why not let our voices be heard?