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Tort/Negligence – Auto Collision – Contributory Negligence – Last Clear Chance

Tort/Negligence – Auto Collision – Contributory Negligence – Last Clear Chance

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Defendant’s vehicle collided with the rear of plaintiff’s vehicle on the interstate. Although defendant admitted she did not know whether plaintiff was in another lane, defendant also testified that plaintiff merged into her lane without warning. Since the jury could have believed defendant’s testimony, the trial court did not err by instructing the jury on contributory negligence.

We affirm judgment for defendant.

Plaintiff was not entitled to a jury instruction on the last clear chance doctrine. Plaintiff did not present any evidence that defendant had time and ability to react and avoid plaintiff’s negligent act had defendant acted with reasonable care. Conversely, defendant testified that plaintiff suddenly moved into her lane without warning, and she immediately crashed into him.

Defendant testified to the suddenness of the merge. It happened nearly instantly. At one moment plaintiff’s car was not there. In the next moment it was. Without anything more, there is no evidence that defendant had the time and ability to avoid the accident.

Therefore, the trial court correctly denied the instruction on the defense of last clear chance because, assuming plaintiff negligently entered Defendant’s dane, there was no evidence indicating defendant had the time and ability to prevent the crash.

Strickland v. Ahmed (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-470-22, 7 pp.) (Jefferson Griffin, J.) Appealed from Franklin County District Court (Hoyte Stultz, J.) Ben Van Steinburgh for plaintiff; Kara Vordman and Michael Holt for defendant. 2022-NCCOA-777

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