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A dusk scene of a motorway with vehicles passing by illustrating contributory negligence and the impact it may have on your claim

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What is contributory negligence and how may it affect my claim?

Michael Wangermann takes a look at contributory negligence. What is it and how might it affect a personal injury claim?

Contributory negligence is a term commonly used by personal injury solicitors and can be raised as a partial defence by a Defendant in a personal injury claim.  But what does it actually mean? 

Well S.1(1) of the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945 states that:

‘Where any person suffers damage as the result partly of his own fault and partly of the fault of any other person or persons, a claim in respect of that damage shall not be defeated by reason of the fault of the person suffering the damage, but the damages recoverable in respect thereof shall be reduced to such extent as the court thinks just and equitable having regard to the claimant’s share in the responsibility for the damage’

If you are still left scratching your head, let’s look at contributory negligence in practice.

Contributory negligence case study

James was a business professional with a wife and two young children. He was also a massive cycling fan.  Tragically James lost his life when he tried to cross a dual carriageway on his cycle and was hit by a car in the fast lane, which was travelling in excess of the speed limit.

While James clearly bore a significant level of responsibility by choosing to cross a dual carriageway on which cars can reasonably be expected to be travelling at speed, it became clear during the Coroner’s process that the car driver and his passenger were aware that they were travelling at excess speed and it was highly likely that the driver was not fully paying attention. 

This gave Ashtons Legal grounds to pursue the driver of the car, via his insurance company, on behalf of James’ widow and children, for a dependency claim following his death.

The insurers for the car driver never formally accepted liability (blame) for the collision which caused James’ death, but settlement was achieved based on approximately 25/75 split in Defendants favour.  Effectively this meant that it was felt James was 75% responsible for the collision which caused his death, and the car driver 25% responsible. 

This meant that the dependency claim, which was significant due to James’ pre-accident high earning capacity was reduced by 75%.  The claim was valued at £1 million pounds on a full liability basis, taking into account the contributory negligence, James’ widow and his children received just £250,000 of this.

A dusk scene of a motorway with vehicles passing by illustrating contributory negligence and the impact it may have on your claim
A dusk scene of a motorway with vehicles passing by illustrating contributory negligence and the impact it may have on your claim
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How Major Trauma Group can help

If you have suffered injury in a cycling accident and wish to speak to a specialist solicitor about a potential claim, contact Major Trauma Group via email (hello@majortraumagroup.co.uk), telephone (0330 311 2578) or via live chat on our website (available Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm). 

The Major Trauma Group is a not-for-profit community interest company, made up of leading law firms from across the country who, together with clinicians, have pooled their knowledge and experience to assist major trauma victims and their families through the provision of legal advice and ancillary services.  Initial chats with our member solicitors, are free and without obligation.

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Who are the serious injury solicitors of Major Trauma Group, and how can they help me?

Who are the serious injury solicitors of Major Trauma Group, and how can they help me?

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