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Is It Possible To Split The Blame In A Personal Injury Claim?

You may have read recently about TV presenter Dan Walker being involved in an accident when he was cycling. Walker posted his pictures of his injuries on social media and expressed his gratitude to the paramedics, police and A&E staff who helped him after the accident but following emergence of dash cam footage showing the accident a debate was sparked on who should be held responsible for the collision. Was it the driver for collided with Walker’s bicycle, was it Walker for cycling on the road and not using the designated cycle lane that would have avoided the roundabout altogether or possibly a combination of the two?

As this example shows, in a lot of situations, it is not as straightforward as one party being solely responsible. Therefore, in personal injury claims it is possible for a both parties to bear some responsibility for an accident. This happens when a Defendant admits fault for the accident but also alleges that the Claimant is partly to blame. This is known as contributory negligence.

In cases where contributory negligence is alleged, the Defendant will usually propose a split in liability. This is usually put to the Claimant in percentage terms; for example if they allege that both parties are equally to blame they will accept 50% liability. Alternatively, in cases where the Defendant is largely to blame but not completely they could accept 75% or 80% of the liability. A split can be proposed in favour of either party so it would also be possible to have a case where the Claimant bears more of the responsibility than the Defendant.

Allegations of contributory negligence do not always have to be made in road traffic accident cases but can be raised in many other situations for example in a tripping claim where it could be alleged that the Claimant was rushing or wearing inappropriate or in an accident at work where the Claimant did not properly follow their training. This is by no means an exhaustive list and the reality is that these allegations could be raised in any claim where the Defendant believes that the Claimant has failed to take sufficient care for their own safety and this has contributed to the accident.

In cases where contributory negligence is successfully argued, the compensation a Claimant is awarded is reduced by the same degree that they are found to be at fault. So if a Claimant is found to be 40% at fault, their compensation is reduced by 40% to reflect this.

If these allegations are made, the Defendant will have to provide evidence to support them. This evidence would then be reviewed and assessed by a Claimant’s solicitor who can advise them on whether the proposed split is reasonable or whether a more favourable split should be put forward.

If the parties are unable to resolve the issue between themselves, it would ultimately by down to a Judge at Court to review the evidence and decide what (if any) split in liability is appropriate.

Given the potential impact that a successful argument of contributory negligence could have on an injured party’s compensation, it is crucial that a Claimant seeks advice from a specialist personal injury solicitor who can advise them on the issues and make sure that an appropriate split is agreed. Call our specialists now on 0808 271 9413 or request a call back to discuss. 

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