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Contributory negligence - what's it all about?

Personal injury solicitors use the term “contributory negligence” to refer to a situation when the accident victim themselves is partially liable for the accident occurring.

In some accident situations, legal liability will rest entirely with the other side. For example in a road accident claim, the driver who loses concentration and slams into the back of a stationary vehicle is likely to be held 100% liable for the accident.

However, not all accident scenarios are black and white and there are frequently situations where partial responsibility will rest with the claimant himself.

Even in the road accident example given above, contributory negligence can arise if the driver or passenger of the stationary car were not wearing a seatbelt. Failure to wear a seatbelt will always result in some finding of contributory negligence. 

Solicitors normally refer to contributory negligence in percentage terms.  For instance, a finding of 25% contributory negligence is likely if wearing a seatbelt would have prevented any injury occurring whatsoever.

Other examples of contributory negligence in personal injury claims include pedestrians who fail to check that the road is clear before they cross and get knocked over as a result and building site workers who fail to wear a hard hat and then suffer head injuries when an object is accidentally dropped on their head.

The effect of contributory negligence in injury claims is to reduce the amount of compensation. So, if there is a contributory negligence finding against a claimant of 25%, then their award of compensation will be reduced by 25%. For example, if a whiplash claim was worth £10,000 on a full liability basis, they would only receive £7,500 from the other side if the level of contributory negligence was 25%.

Our specialist injury solicitors are experienced in assessing contributory negligence in all types of accident claim situations.  So, if you are in doubt about where you stand and whether a finding of contributory negligence is likely, then call our FREE LEGAL HELPLINE and talk to an accident claim solicitor today.

Call us now on 0800 955 1038