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What is contributory Negligence in North Carolina.
The term "imputed negligence" refers to the doctrine that makes one person responsible for the negligence of another.
Vicarious liability is an exception to the normal principle of individualized fault and enables an injured person to seek redress from another who is not the party primarily responsible.
It is an indirect responsibility imposed by operation of law, distinguishable from direct liability where liability is established under a nondelegable duty for breach of one's own duty of care, and joint liability, which is imposed as a result of a party's actions taken in concert with another active tortfeasor.
In a case involving imputed negligence, liability will be imposed on one person for the negligence of another based on the relationship between the parties, or arising from a positive rule of common or statutory law, or contract.
Underlying the doctrine is the notion of authority or control over the alleged wrongdoer. Thus, the imputation of negligence of one person to another may only be allowed where there exists a relation of master or superior and servant or subordinate or other relationship; this relationship must invoke agency principles or such persons must be cooperating in a common or joint enterprise, or the party to whom negligence is imputed must have the legal right to control the actions of the active tortfeasor.
Essentially the negligence of one person will not be imputed to another unless there exists a legal obligation to respond to the other's fault. For example, where a person injured by the negligence of an agent or servant seeks to recover from the tortfeasor's principal or master by what amounts to imputing the tortfeasor's actionable negligence to the principal or master, the plaintiff invokes the maxim of respondeat superior. Similarly, the imputation of negligence to impose vicarious liability of members of joint ventures, those engaged in joint enterprises, and members of partnerships, for the tortious acts of one of their number, or of one of their servants, may be predicated upon the principles governing the liability of a principal for the acts of his or her agent, or of a master for the acts of his or her servant, or on an application of both the rules of agency and of master and servant.
Case law generally holds that negligence will not be imputed solely on the basis of a husband-wife or parent-child relationship.
In like fashion, a son-in-law's negligence is generally not be imputed to the father-in-law where there is no showing that they were engaged in a joint enterprise and the relation does not invoke the principles of agency.
Although as a general rule a parent's negligence will not be imputed to a child, an agency relationship may exist between a parent and child, depending on the nature of the business which the child was conducting at the time of its negligent acts, as where the child is on a family errand.
Also, the negligence of the parent may be imputed to the child where the negligence supersedes the defendant's negligence.
Negligent Control or Supervision
Another basis for imposing direct liability is the negligent control or supervision of another, so as to prevent him or her from causing injury, death, or property damage to third persons.
However, there is generally no such duty unless a special relationship exists; between the actual wrongdoer and the one sought to be held liable that imposes a duty, on the latter, to control the wrongdoer's conduct, and between the person sought to be held and the injury victim that gives such injury victim a right to protection.
Furthermore, there must be actual supervision or control over the activity resulting in the injury for negligence to be found.
For example, negligent control or supervision may arise where one is permitted to use an instrumentality that may endanger others if not carefully used, or where parents fail to adequately to control their minor children when they have the opportunity to exercise control and know the necessity of so doing.
This basis for liability may also be imposed where personnel of an institution or other facility fail to control persons in their charge that have dangerous propensities, whether still in custody-control, or that have been released or have escaped.
Joint Venture or Enterprise
Generally, unless other facts exist, a joint venture will not be grounded upon a mere marital or family relationship for the purpose of imputing the negligence of one spouse or family member to the other.
However, the elements of a joint enterprise may apply to married persons; in such a case, caution is exercised in deciding whether a joint enterprise exists, since not all joint excursions engaged in by married persons result in a joint enterprise.
While there is some case authority holding that a parent may be held liable on the basis of engagement in a joint enterprise with the child at the time of the accident, the courts have been reluctant to find a joint enterprise in such cases.
Index of Relevant Terms:
- Absolute Divorce
- Contributory Negligence
- Imputed Negligence
- Defenses to a Negligence Lawsuit
- Driving and Texting in North Carolina
- Emotional Distress
- Punitive Damages
- Res Ipsa Loquitur
- Short Sale
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Truck Accidents
- Wrongful Death
- Wrongful Discharge from Employment