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Contributory Negligence and How It Can Ruin Your Case

Virginia and North Carolina both adhere to an archaic and unfair legal doctrine known as contributory negligence. Basically, the doctrine states that if an injured party contributed, even by only one percent, to causing their harm, then they may be barred from recovering any compensation from the at-fault party. So, for example, if you cross the street on Laskin Road in Virginia Beach, Va in a part of the road that is not a designated crosswalk and are hit by a speeding, drunk driver, the fact that you crossed outside a crosswalk could potentially bar you from recovering anything for your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses caused by the carelessness of the drunk, speeding at-fault party.

Virginia and North Carolina are two of only five states that still follow contributory negligence. Most states have gotten rid of this doctrine and apply a comparative negligence doctrine, which is a much more equitable way to assess fault and determine damages. 

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