In English tort law, contributory negligence is a legal term defining a situation where the Claimant (person making a compensation claim) was partly responsible for the incident.
It indicates that the person making the personal injury or road traffic accident claim, should have taken appropriate actions at the time of the accident to reduce their risk of injury, as should everyone. For failing to do this in anyway, they would be deemed partly liable – so the liability would be split between the claimant and defendant.
Here are a few example cases of contributory negligence:
- If you were involved in a car accident due to a poorly maintained road, then a claim could be made against the council. If it can be proven that you were speeding, for example, the claim will be disputed – it is every driver’s responsibility to be vigilant and remain aware of any hazards, including slowing down if need be to avoid an accident or injury.
- You might be involved in a collision where another driver was at fault – but say you weren’t wearing a seat belt at the time the accident happened, which didn’t cause the accident, but it contributed to sustaining worse injuries - again, you would be partly liable. In this situation, you didn’t attempt to reduce the risk of your injuries so your overall compensation amount would turn out lower (in comparison to the amount you would have won, had you worn your seatbelt).
It is important to note that the contributory factor doesn’t necessarily mean that the action caused the accident; it could mean that it was responsible for making your injury worse – such as the seatbelt example.
As part of the tort of negligence, the common law regarding contributory negligence used to be that if the claimant was in any way liable for the accident, then it would completely revoke the claim – the defendant wouldn’t have been held responsible and nobody would receive any compensation.
The Law Reform Contributory Negligence Act 1945 was a review of this ruling, and changes meant that the Court was able to make judgments regarding the extent that the claimant was liable and how much compensation they should be rewarded.
The legislation states that the cost of any damages “shall be reduced to such an extent as the Court thinks just and equitable having regard to the claimant’s share in the responsibility for the damage”.
When it comes to contributory negligence, there are no specifics detailing exactly how they judge the compensation settlement.
Every personal injury claim or road traffic accident claim is different, and the Courts will judge each one based on all the evidence and factors of the incident.
If, based on the evidence, they decide that both parties are at fault in some way, they will award compensation based on a split liability agreement.
This type of agreement is most common with road traffic accidents – the claimant is awarded with a percentage of the total compensation amount, depending on the extent of their liability.
For example, if the compensation award was 75/25, this would mean you’ve been determined 25% at fault for the accident by the Courts – so you will only receive 75% of compensation. If you and the defendant were equally responsible, a 50/50 award would be given – so you’d only receive 50% of the total amount.
At Non Fault Claims, we work with a panel of No Win No Fee personal injury lawyers. If your lawyer doesn’t win the case for you, you won’t have to pay any legal fees, meaning that you won’t be financially at risk.
Contact us today to see how we can help you with your claim for personal injury or vehicle damage after a road traffic accident.