Raleigh, N.C. – As litigation and the influence of trial lawyers continues to increase, North Carolina voters want to keep the existing law concerning contributory negligence according to a new poll released today by the Civitas Institute.
According to the live caller poll of 600 likely voters, 56 percent of voters said they want to keep the existing contributory negligence law that states if an injured person contributes to their own injury they cannot collect damages. Twenty-nine percent of voters said the General Assembly should change the law and 15 percent said they were not sure.
Only five jurisdictions currently recognize this rule: North Carolina, Alabama, District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland.
“This is one issue where the voters are not clamoring for change,” said Civitas Institute President Francis De Luca. “The legislature should let this bill die and spend time addressing legislation that will actually foster an environment for job creation.”
As the North Carolina Senate prepares to take up House Bill 813, “Uniform Apportionment of Tort Responsibility,” in the 2010 session, voters are showing bipartisan rejection of increased litigation. Fifty-three percent of Democrats and 61 percent of Republicans said they want to keep the existing contributory negligence law. Fifty-one percent of unaffiliated voters said they also support not changing the law.
“Perhaps a better title for this bill would be the ‘John Edwards Trial Lawyer Full Employment Act’ since that is more accurate to reflect the impact of this proposed legislation,” added De Luca.
The Civitas Poll is the only monthly live-caller poll of critical issues facing North Carolina. For more information on Civitas polling see www.nccivitas.org/media/poll-results/.
Full text of question:
In civil lawsuits, North Carolina law says that if an injured person contributes to their own injury, they cannot collect damages. Should the General Assembly change the law to allow injured persons to collect damages according to the percentage of fault attributable to their own actions or should it keep the existing law in place?
Keep Existing Law – 56%
Change the Law – 29%
Not Sure – 15%
This poll of 600 likely general election voters in North Carolina was conducted April 13-15, 2010 by Tel Opinion Research of Alexandria, Virginia. All respondents were part of a fully representative sample of registered voters in North Carolina. For purposes of this study, voters we interviewed had to have voted in either the 2004, 2006 or 2008 general elections or were newly registered voters since 2008.
The confidence interval associated with a sample of this size is such that: 95 percent of the time, results from 600 interviews (registered voters) will be within +-4% of the “True Values.” True Values refer to the results obtained if it were possible to interview every person in North Carolina who had voted in either the 2004, 2006 or 2008 general elections or were newly registered voters since 2008.