RALEIGH, N.C., May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- All of us expect our justice system to be fair, but in North Carolina it's not. North Carolina is one of only four states that cling to contributory negligence, a harsh and outdated way of denying compensation to people hurt in accidents. Legislators are moving to modernize the state's system. But the Insurance Federation wants to keep contributory negligence in place, and is distorting the facts to protect its interests.
Under "contrib," even if you are only one percent responsible for an accident, you cannot recover damages from someone 99 percent responsible.
Comparative fault, the fairer system used in 46 states, allows people to recover damages from those most responsible for causing an accident. House Bill 813, supported by a bipartisan team of legislators, aims to introduce comparative fault as the new and improved law of the land -- one that offers everyone hurt in accidents a just outcome.
A recent study found that comparative fault does not mean a rise in auto insurance premiums. In fact, one of the most striking trends was that after converting to comparative fault, pure premiums increased at a slower rate in neighboring states than in NC:
- South Carolina dropped contributory negligence and adopted comparative fault in 1991, Tennessee in '92.
- Before comparative fault, pure premiums in SC and TN were higher than in NC.
- After comparative fault, the difference between SC and NC fell from 29.4% in early 1991 to 2.6% in early 2009. The difference between TN and NC fell from 19.4% to 5.4%.
- During the years after moving to comparative fault, increases in premiums slowed significantly in SC and TN while NC's contributory negligence premiums climbed at a steeper rate.
- We can say for certain that the report (by Pinnacle Actuarial Resources) proves what 46 states know comparative fault is a fairer system that does not cause a significant increase in pure premium rates.
The Insurance Federation has launched attack ads to protect NC's current standing as a stronghold of insurance company interests -- wrongly claiming that the change to a fairer system will drive up rates. But a change to comparative fault does not mean a rate increase. And clinging to contributory negligence only causes people to needlessly suffer.
SOURCE NC Advocates for Justice