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What is contributory negligence?

Making a claim for compensation may still be possible even if you contributed to the negligence that caused your injuries.

What is contributory negligence?

When bringing a claim for compensation following serious injury, dependent on the circumstances of the incident which caused the injury, you may hear your lawyer refer to contributory negligence. 

In many circumstances when an accident occurs, one person (the defendant) is to blame for the accident and the person who sustained the injury (the claimant) is entirely innocent of blame.  However, there are circumstances where the blame for the accident, and subsequent injuries sustained, is split between both parties, referred to as contributory negligence.

For example …

It is not uncommon for there to be a degree of contributory negligence in road traffic collisions.  Examples are:

  • If a car driver, or passenger in a car, suffers injuries in a collision for which they were not to blame, but at the point of collision they were not wearing a seatbelt.  Had the injured person been wearing a seatbelt, whilst they may still have received injuries, those injuries would likely have been less severe.
  • If a pedestrian is involved in a collision whilst crossing the road, but failed to check if the road was clear and safe to cross before crossing.
  • An employee climbs on unsafe furniture to access high shelves when a set of safety ladders is provided for them to use, and they fall and suffer injury.

The claims process

When bringing a claim for injury, the claimant must notify the defendant of their claim and allow them a specific period of time in which to investigate the claim and respond.

When responding, the defendant will:

  • Admit that they are fully to blame for the accident;
  • Deny that they are fully to blame for the accident;
  • Partially admit that they are to blame for the accident and allege that the claimant is also partly to blame – an allegation of contributory negligence.

How does an allegation of contributory negligence affect my claim?

If the defendants make an allegation of contributory negligence, they will propose a percentage of blame to be attributed to the claimant.  The defendant will provide evidence to support these allegations and their apportionment of blame, which will be reviewed by the claimant’s legal team, who may accept the proposed split, or propose a different split, more favourable to the claimant.  In circumstances where the parties cannot agree how the blame should be split, a Court will be asked to review the evidence and decide what percentage split is appropriate. 

Once the percentage split has been agreed, this will be used to reduce the claimants award.  So, for example, if a claimant is awarded damages of £100,000, but a contributory negligence allegation has been made and the percentage of blame agreed at 25% claimant’s fault and 75% defendant’s fault, the claimant will receive £75,000 – the full award being reduced by 25% to account for their agreed blame for the accident.

How Major Trauma Group can help

If you have suffered serious injury in an accident or road traffic collision due to someone else’s negligence or actions, contact Major Trauma Group for a free no obligation chat.  Even if you are partly to blame for the incident which caused your injuries, it is still worthwhile chatting to a specialist solicitor.  Serious injuries can change lives forever, and even with a degree of contributory negligence, it may still be worthwhile exploring the possibility of commencing a claim.

Making a claim for compensation may still be possible even if you are partially responsible.
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One you have made contact, we will arrange for a lawyer from one of our member law firms to contact you at a convenient time, via email or telephone call, to discuss your individual circumstances in more detail.

Major Trauma Group are a not-for-profit community interest company.

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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?

Serious injury? Get in touch to see if you can make a compensation claim

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