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What is Contributory Negligence? Beacon Law Advises


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Contributory negligence is a legal concept relevant in some personal injury cases. It essentially means that if the person who was hurt did anything that contributed to the accident or injury, then the defendant (the person responsible for the accident) may not be fully liable or may not be liable at all.

If the injured person is found to be even slightly responsible for their injuries, it can impact their compensation. For example, if a judge rules the claimant is 20% responsible for their injuries, then 20% will be deducted from the compensation amount awarded to them.

Defendants commonly use contributory negligence as a defence to argue that they shouldn’t be held fully responsible for the damages. However, the burden of proof lies with the defendant to prove contributory negligence, which can be a complex task.

Contributory negligence is a complex legal concept under common law, and consulting with a personal injury claim solicitor is recommended if you’re facing a situation where it might be relevant. Our team at Beacon Law are highly experienced in contributory negligence cases and can assist clients during the legal process. Please get in touch with us today to find out more.

contributory negligence

Examples of contributory negligence

Contributory negligence examples illustrate situations where an injured party’s own actions contribute to the harm they suffered. Remember, the concept of contributory negligence is harsh, and the degree of the claimant’s negligence, no matter how small, can potentially bar them from recovering the total amount of damages. Here are some examples:

Car Accidents:

  • If a pedestrian walks into the road and is hit by a car, the pedestrian may be considered contributorily negligent.
  • If a driver runs a red light and collides with another car, that driver may be considered contributorily negligent.
  • If a passenger does not wear a seatbelt and has caused themselves more injury by not wearing one, then they may be considered contributorily negligent.

Slip and Fall Cases:

  • If someone ignores warning signs and enters a wet floor area, slipping and getting injured, their contributory negligence might be considered.

Product Liability:

  • If a person misuses a product in a way that leads to injury, their contributory negligence may be a factor in assessing liability.

Medical Negligence:

  • If a patient fails to follow prescribed medical instructions and their condition worsens, their contributory negligence might be considered.

Premises Liability:

  • If someone trespasses on private property and gets injured, their contributory negligence could be a factor in determining liability.

Workplace Accidents:

  • If an employee violates safety protocols, doesn’t care for their own safety and gets injured, they may be held liable and contribute to the negligence.


Can you still make a claim for compensation if you are partially responsible?

Typically, you can still make a claim for personal injury compensation even if you are partially responsible. The contributory negligence system allows for this under the Contributory Negligence Act of 1945. The Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945 made it possible for victims to access compensation, as prior to the reform, any contributory negligence would mean no damages would be awarded.

The amount of compensation you receive will be reduced based on your percentage of fault. There are two types of comparative negligence:

  1. Pure Comparative Negligence: You can recover damages regardless of your percentage of fault, but the amount will be reduced by that percentage.
  2. Modified Comparative Negligence: You can only recover damages if your fault is below a certain threshold (often 50% or 51%). If your fault exceeds this threshold, you may be barred from any damages recoverable.

What is the process of making a personal injury claim?

When you contact us, you will speak with one of our experienced personal injury solicitors, who will ask you for information during the initial consultation in order to help them assess the prospects of succeeding in your claim. Examples of relevant information that you may be asked for include:

  • The location, time and date of when and where the accident occurred
  • The circumstances that led up to the accident
  • The nature of injuries sustained, as well as the severity of them
  • Details of any independent witnesses who may have seen your accident taking place
  • Any details of the partially negligent party (the defendant) and how they were involved in your accident.

If, after discussing these details with you, we are happy to proceed with your claim, we will offer to progress your case on a no win no fee basis. On a no win no fee agreement, you will not have to pay any fees if you lose your case, and you will therefore be able to pursue your claim with a great degree of security. If your claim is successful, you will be responsible for the payment of our success fee and the insurance premium, which would be taken from your final award of compensation.

When we have accepted your case on a no win, no fee basis, we will send you some paperwork in the post for you to complete and return to us. Once we are in receipt of your signed documents, we shall proceed to contact the defendant that was negligent to notify them of your claim.

After this, we will keep you updated regularly on the progress of your case. The process may differ depending on whether the defendant accepts or denies liability for your case.

If we can prove that the defendant was in part to blame for your accident and injuries, we can proceed to the settlement of your case. You will likely be required to attend an independent medical expert to have your injuries assessed and documented before we can provide a valuation on your injuries.

How can Beacon Law assist?

Beacon Law is a Manchester-based law firm that specialises in personal injury claims for claimants based all over England and Wales. Our team of highly experienced personal injury specialist solicitors and legal professionals have processed large numbers of successful claims for personal injuries.

We are experts in no win, no fee compensation claims, and we are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

If you have sustained injuries following an accident that you may be partially responsible for, then contact Beacon Law today by calling 0330 1332 857 or complete the contact form at the top of the page to request a callback, and we will put you in touch with an experienced personal injury solicitor.


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