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What is contributory negligence and how will it affect your compensation?

Mar 28, 2021 | Legal Articles

Moussa Sabzehghabaei

Personal Injury Lawyer

What is contributory negligence and how will it affect your compensation?

When filing a personal injury lawsuit, the claimant – who is the injured party, may have contributed to the occurrence or seriousness of the accident. This is referred to as contributory negligence and is an essential aspect when determining fault in injury claims. Contributory negligence can be used by the defendant as a form of defence. It may diminish liability for the person whose negligence caused the claimant’s injuries.

Common examples of contributory negligence

  • In a car accident, if the victim did not wear a seatbelt and this contributed to the severity of the injuries he/she suffered. This may be considered contributory negligence because the victim failed to take the appropriate safety measures.
  • When an employee is injured at the workplace because they failed to wear safety equipment. The employer, through defence lawyers, can ask the court to reduce the damages awarded to the employee by an amount that represents the portion of the blame assumed.
  • If a driver is over speeding because of the road conditions and hits a pedestrian, the pedestrian may be partially at fault if he/she did not check the traffic before crossing. The proportion of contributory negligence may also depend on how much time was available to the driver to avoid hitting the pedestrian.

Why is contributory negligence important?

To start with, if a claimant is found to have contributed to an accident, their percentage of contribution will represent the percentage that the compensation paid will be reduced. For instance, if the compensation to be given to the car accident victim is $1,000,000, and the claimant is found to have contributed 25%, they will only receive $750,000. Contributory negligence allows all the parties at fault to be held liable for the losses, even if it was the victim of the accident. This means that if the claimant is found to be 50% to blame for the accident, they may lose half of their compensation.

Additionally, contributory negligence ensures that even though the defendant admitted liability, they may not be required to pay 100% compensation. Therefore, when the defendant admits liability, there’s still a risk of contributory negligence being argued against the claimant.

How to prove contributory negligence

The defendant who is asserting the contributory negligence claim has the burden of proving duty, breach, and causation. First, the defence must prove that the claimant owed a duty of reasonable care to protect himself from getting injured. Not every failure to take the appropriate care for one’s own safety will be considered contributory negligence. In general, it’s only those failures that contributed to the claimant’s injuries that will constitute contributory negligence. Secondly, the defendant must prove that the claimant failed to act reasonably or breached his/her duty of care. Finally, the defence team must show that this breach contributed to the claimant’s injuries.

What happens when a claimant is found negligent?

  • If there are two or more defendants, they will still have to pay the claimant their share of damages proportionate to their contributory negligence.
  • The claimant’s damages are reduced to the degree of fault or negligence.
  • If the claimant’s fault cannot be practically determined, both the defendant and claimant will be held at fault.

Why you need experienced lawyers by your side

Cases that involve contributory negligence can be complex to resolve. This type of claim shouldn’t be taken lightly because it significantly affects the amount of compensation to be paid. Both parties will contest how fault has been determined before the courts. You must have an experienced legal team that can advocate effectively for you in order to get the best outcome.

An experienced lawyer will gather the appropriate resources to help with:

  • Gathering eyewitness statements to support your claim
  • Reconstructing the accident to show the events leading to the accident
  • Securing photographs of the accident scene
  • Conducting thorough investigations
  • Working with medical specialists to determine the extent of your injuries

If you were injured in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, you need to obtain legal representation immediately. Consulting a lawyer will increase your chances of obtaining maximum compensation for your injuries. For many years, we’ve offered superior legal representation for wrongfully injured victims. Our Grillo lawyers will take the appropriate and necessary steps to build and present a strong case that represents your best interests. We will commit ourselves to fight for you. Do not hesitate to reach out to us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.