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PNS Daily Newscast - September 18, 2020 

A federal judge slams the brakes on U.S. Postal Service changes nationwide; and we take you to the state 'out front' for clean elections.

2020Talks - September 18, 2020 

Trump slams the 1619 project on Constitution Day, and Pennsylvania's Supreme Court makes some election changes.

General Assembly Looks at a Question about Fairness in Justice

May 19, 2010

RALEIGH, N. C. - The General Assembly is set to tackle an issue that some believe is a matter of fairness in the justice system, while others say it could lead to higher insurance rates.

At issue is whether to change the civil justice system, now based on the concept of contributory negligence, to a comparative fault system used in most other states. The contributory system means, if a court decides a victim is even one percent responsible for an accident, the person 99 percent responsible is exempted from paying any damages. State Senator Pete Brunstetter (R-Forsythe) is the sponsor of a bill (HB 813) to change the law.

"The system is just unfair, and 46 states have adopted some form of comparative fault - which is the system that we're looking for - which just is a fairer measure of somebody's responsibility to another in an accident."

Comparative fault means those responsible could be held accountable in civil court for their level of involvement. Insurance industry lobbyists have warned that changing to a comparative fault system will result in a hike in insurance rates. Brunstetter agrees insurance premium costs are a valid concern, but says there is no proof that rates would rise.

"I don't think the evidence shows that there's necessarily a strong relationship between whether you have a comparative system or a contributory system and what it does to insurance rates."

A recent actuarial study of two states that changed their systems to what North Carolina is considering (Tennessee and South Carolina), did not find any rapid rises in premiums. The legislation has received bipartisan support.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - NC