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Sadly, a snow plow hit and killed Mr. Mark Walston of Goldsboro, NC over the weekend. According to an article on digtriad.com, the accident is still under investigation. The NC Highway Patrol states that “the weather is responsible” for the accident, although there were at least two persons—the driver of the snow plow and the pedestrian—involved.

To determine who, if anybody, should be held responsible for this accident we need to look at the North Carolina negligence law. North Carolina is one of only four states that still hold to the contributory negligence rule. That is, even if a person is only a little bit guilty of contributory negligence (the courts have held 1% is enough), that person can’t recover. Other states apply some version of the comparative negligence doctrine, allowing the victim to recover, but only after reducing the award to reflect his percentage of negligence.

There is, however, one important exception in North Carolina law. A negligent victim can still collect damages if the offender had the last clear chance to avoid the accident. Thus, even if Mr. Walston was crossing the street without looking, it is possible that the driver of the snow plow could and should have seen and avoided him.

At this point, there isn’t enough information to conclude as to liability in this incident. Perhaps witnesses can be located. Our firm often employs an investigator or accident reconstruction expert in hard cases. In any event, a jury may ultimately make the determination.

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