Burton Craige has written an article, entitled Should North Carolina Enact the Uniform Apportionment of Tort Responsibility Act?, for an issue of Trial Briefs, the publication of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. The article discusses possible reform of contributory negligence, and related laws for personal injury and negligence cases.
Summary: North Carolina is one of only five jurisdictions that retain the antiquated doctrine of contributory negligence. Here, as in Alabama, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, a plaintiff whose negligence makes the slightest contribution to his injury is barred from recovering any damages against the tortfeasor. The other 46 states, either by judicial decision or by statute, have adopted some form of comparative fault, allocating damages based on the degree of fault among the plaintiff and the defendants. In 2007, four Republican state legislators introduced a bill to adopt UATRA in North Carolina. The proposed legislation would revolutionize North Carolina tort law by ending contributory negligence, adopting a system of comparative fault, and modifying joint and several liability. Legislators are likely to reintroduce the bill in 2009. If North Carolina adopts UATRA, it will be the first state to do so.