Contributory negligence is a legal term that is used when a claimant has failed to act with good judgement or common sense, and as such is responsible, to some degree, for their personal injury. The common law doctrine can be used across the board, in most cases of personal injury law, including those that arise due to an accident at work or a road traffic accident.
Contributory negligence does not always mean that the claimant is not entitled to compensation. It may simply affect the level of compensation you are awarded.
In the past
Until 1945, this meant injured parties who had contributed to an accident on the road or the extent of their resulting injuries were not entitled to compensation.
Thanks to the 1945 Law Reform Contributory Negligence Act, contributory negligence no longer represents complete defence against claims, but a relevant issue in determining the compensation amount.
Contributory negligence and compensation
Brought forward by the defendant when court proceedings commence, contributory negligence can mean you may not receive your full compensation even if the defendant admits liability.
The percentage at which you contributed to the traffic accident, or other incident, and any resulting injuries will be assessed and your compensation will be reduced by the same percentage.
For instance, if you are found to be 30 per cent responsible for your car crash injuries, your compensation will be reduced by 30 per cent; however, if you have contributed 100 per cent to your injuries, your compensation claim will fail.
Froom vs. Butcher
The well known case of Froom vs. Butcher (1976) is a good example of contributory negligence.
In the case, the defendant argued that the claimant contributed to the injury’s extent by not wearing a seatbelt. The decision in this case was that if not wearing a seatbelt:
- Did not affect the injury, there was no contribution
- Contributed to the injury to some minor degree, the contributory negligence contribution equated to 15 per cent
- Substantially affected the injury’s extent, the contributory negligence contribution equated to 25 per cent
Made before wearing seat belts became the law, this decision is frequently challenged, but stands firm.
Other examples of contributory negligence can include, but is not limited to, a:
- Pedestrian being hit by a speeding car after not checking traffic before crossing a road
- Motorcyclist not wearing a helmet suffering serious head injuries in a motorcycling accident
- Cycling accident involving a cyclist ‘fooling around’ being hit by a vehicle
While all examples here are based on road traffic accidents, contributory negligence may also be argued in claims against injuries at work, slips, trips and falls, and most types of personal injury compensation claim cases.
Making a claim for personal injury compensation
Whether you contributed to your injury by car accident or not, you could be entitled to driver injury compensation.
At Accident Advice Helpline, we are dedicated to assisting people like you in securing the driver or passenger injury compensation they deserve. Give us a call today on 0800 689 0500 for more information.
Date Published: March 2, 2015
Author: Accident Advice