Contributory Negligence is a term used in the legal industry as a defence in a personal injury claim to suggest that the party that was injured was also to blame for the accident.
Proving liability in personal injury claims is always the initial stage. This means that proving that the defendant is to blame for your accident. Once a defendant has been notified of a claim, they have a set period of time in which to investigate the allegations and thus respond. They can respond in 3 different ways:
These allegations are what solicitors call 'contributory negligence'.
Why would a Defendant allege Contributory Negligence?
When a defendant thinks the injured person is to blame, they will propose a share of liability. This is usually expressed in percentage terms, e.g if they allege that both parties are equally to blame, they will accept 50% of liability. Alternatively, in cases where the defendant is largely to blame but not fully, they may meet at 75% or 80% of the liability. The split can be proposed in favour of either party, so it is possible to have a case where the claimant bears more than 50% of the responsibility for the accident.
How can the Defendant do this?
The defendant has to prove that the claimant is partially to blame. To do this they have to satisfy 3 main tests:
The defendant will have to provide evidence to prove contributory negligence. The injured person(s) solicitor would then review and advise. If the parties are unable to resolve the issue between themselves, it would be ultimately be down to the court to review the evidence and decide what, if any, split is appropriate.
Does this effect my compensation?
If contributory negligence is successfully argued, the compensation the injured party is awarded is reduced by the percentage they are at fault. Meaning if a claimant is found to be 25% at fault, their compensation will be reduced by 25%.
Can you give me an example?
Can you help, I've been injured, and might be partly to blame. What should I do?
Even when you think an accident was your fault this may not be the case. If you feel responsible, or even a little embarrassed, you should still consult and solicitor and get expert advise as to who is at fault. Contributory Negligence can be a complex issue and must be given careful consideration by a professional.
Our specialist personal injury team can help you bring a claim and advise you on issues such as contributory negligence. Call us today on 087 2905001 or fill out a contact form and one of the team will contact you at a time that suits.