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What Is Contributory Negligence And What Does It Mean For Your Personal Injury Claim?

If you have been unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident and decide to pursue a personal injury claim, your specialist personal injury solicitor may need to advise you about contributory negligence.

Your specialist personal injury solicitor, after taking your instructions on the accident circumstances and extent of your losses, will submit your claim to the insurers of the responsible party (the person or company who caused your accident).

Once the claim has been submitted and the appropriate time period under the Court rules has expired the insurers should come back with a decision on liability and confirm whether:

  1. They accept liability for the accident.
  2. They deny liability for the accident.
  3. They say that they are only partially at fault (liable) and allege that the injured person is also partly to blame. Contributory negligent.

Contributory negligence in a personal injury claim is the term used to describe a situation when the insurers are trying to argue that the person who has been injured is partly responsible for the accident.

Some common examples of this are as follows:

  1. In a road traffic collision; contributory negligence can be argued if for example you are not wearing a seatbelt. Thereby contributing to your own injuries. The value of your compensation will be reduced. The amount it would be reduced by would depend upon whether the seatbelt and the wearing of it would have reduced the injuries or prevented them altogether.
  2. In an accident at work; contributory negligence might be argued if the injured person had been trained how to do a job and was say instructed to use personal protective equipment (PPE) and failed to do so, and that failure led to the injuries being more serious.
  3. Pedestrians; contributory negligence might be argued if a driver via their insurers allege that the pedestrian was not taking full notice of what was happening on the road and failed to look properly or failed to use a pedestrian crossing which was available.

How does it affect your claim?

Your specialist personal injury solicitor will talk to you about whether you should be accepting any fault or contributory negligence based on how the accident happened.

If for example the insurers say that the evidence means both parties are equally to blame they will suggest a 50/50 split on liability. Meaning each part bears equal responsibility for what happened.

If for example the third party insures accept their insured was largely to blame but feel that the injured party has in some way contributed to their own accident, then they might suggest, say, an 80/20 split in the Claimant’s favour. Meaning they accept 80 % of the blame and say you should accept 20 %

Even when the accident circumstances appear straightforward, contributory negligence can be alleged.

How does contributory negligence affect the compensation amount?

If you agreed a split on liability at 50/50 it means you will receive 50% of your damages.
If for example you agreed an 80/20 split, you are accepting a 20% part of your fault so any compensation will be reduced by 20%.

Whatever, percentage is agreed for contributory negligence, that is the percentage your damages will be reduced by.

It is important to note that the insurers will have to provide evidence in support of their allegations that you are partly at fault for the accident.

Always take advice from your specialist personal injury solicitor.

If you have suffered an injury where you were partly responsible for the accident, you may still be entitled to claim compensation. Contact our personal injury experts on 0330 822 3451 or request a call back online.

Recent Case from Anne

My client worked as a lead engineer at a factory. His job involved overseeing and undertaking maintenance on the production line.

On the day of the accident there was a problem with the production line and my client isolated the faulty machine so that he could work on it in a safe manner. He had to leave the machine unattended and while away (unknown to him) one of his colleagues restarted the machine.

When my client returned he recommenced work on the machine unaware that it was now live.

He sustained a severe crush injury to his dominant hand, fracturing three fingers with a serious degloving injury. He had an operation where all three fractured digits were fixed with K wires. My Client was left with problems in his right hand and wrist and limited pinch grip. A second operation was expected.

My Client was off work for approximately three months and he returned part time and built up to full time work. He did not incur any loss of earnings. His employers were supportive in providing light duties.

It was clear that full function would never be achieved and that the client was entitled to a substantial handicap on the open labour market claim.

A claim was submitted to his employers which was dealt with by their insurers.

They initially denied liability.

However having reviewed the denial and using my experience as a specialist personal injury solicitor, I believed that there was a viable claim for my client, though of course it would be subject to contributory negligence ( due to not checking that the machine was still isolated when he returned to work on it)

A robust response was made to the denial. After which discussion took place along the lines that the insurers felt my client was 40 % responsible for the accident. After negotiations this was reduced and agreed at 20% responsible

A less experienced solicitor may have accepted the denial. This case shows it’s always better to instruct a specialist personal injury solicitor.

The claim was resolved for approx. £120,000.00.

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