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Can I be to blame for a personal injury?

What is 'contributory negligence’? Contributory negligence is a partial defence to a personal injury claim. If the defendant is successful in arguing this defence, it can lead to a reduction of a claimant’s award in damages.

In the instance that you make a successful personal injury claim in the courts, you could still be found to be partially at fault for your own injuries. A common occurrence in which contributory negligence is raised as a defence is when the claimant is involved in a road traffic accident but is not wearing their seatbelt. However, it is an argument often raised in other cases too, such as accidents at work or trips/falls.

When will the defendant be successful in arguing contributory negligence?

The burden of proof lies upon the defendant in this aspect of the claim. In short, the defendant will have to prove their allegation that you, the claimant, are partially to blame. A defendant can put forward an argument of contributory negligence even if they admit fault. To do this, the defendant must satisfy three tests in the eyes of the court:

  • That the claimant failed to take reasonable care for themselves
  • That this cause or contributed to the injury; and
  • It was reasonably foreseeable that the claimant would be harmed.

The court will then take into account the respective ‘blameworthiness’ of each party and calculate the degree or level to which each party was to blame for the claimant’s injuries.

Why contact a Personal Injury Solicitor?

Contributory negligence is a complex issue and must be given careful consideration by a solicitor acting for a claimant. It is a matter to be aware of from the very beginning of your claim and throughout. The defence can be challenged by a claimant and will fail if the court deems the defendant not to have provided sufficient evidence to substantiate the reduction in the claimant's damages.


Our specialist personal injury solicitors can help you to bring a claim and advise you on issues such as contributory negligence. Call our personal injury specialists today on 0872905001 to discuss if you could be entitled to claim compensation.

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