Blamed for my own personal injury!
Contributory negligence is a partial defence to a personal injury claim
What is 'contributory negligence’?
Contributory negligence is a partial defence to a personal injury claim. If the
defendant is successful in arguing this defence, it can lead to a percentage reduction
of a claimant’s award in damages.
Section 1(1) of the Law Reform
(Contributory Negligence) Act 1945 (LR(CN)A 1945) states:
‘Where any person suffers damage as
the result partly of his own fault and partly of the fault of another person or
persons, a claim in respect of that damage shall not be defeated by reason of
the fault of the person suffering the damage, but the damages recoverable in
respect thereof shall be reduced to such extent as the court thinks just and
equitable having regard to the claimant’s share in the responsibility.’
Therefore, even if you make a
successful personal injury claim in the courts, you may still be found to be
partially at fault for your own injuries. Contributory negligence is very
commonly raised as a defence when the claimant is involved in a road traffic
accident and is not wearing a seatbelt. So, even if the accident itself is not
the fault of the driver making the claim, the fact that the claimant did not
wear a seatbelt can significantly reduce their claim award since it is likely
that their injury could have been reduced had they worn a seatbelt, as legally
required. However, it is an argument often raised in other cases too, such as
accidents at work or trips/falls.
When will the defendant be successful
in arguing contributory negligence?
The burden of proof lies upon the
defendant in this aspect of the claim. This means that the defendant will have
to prove their allegation that you, the claimant, are partially to blame.
defendants can put forward an argument of contributory negligence even if they
admit fault initially. To do this, the defendant must satisfy the three
following tests in the eyes of the court:
That the claimant failed to take reasonable
care for their own safety
That this cause or contributed to the injury;
It was reasonably foreseeable that the
claimant would be harmed.
The court will then consider the
respective ‘blameworthiness’ of each party and calculate the degree or level to
which each party was to blame for the claimant’s injuries.
Contributory negligence is a complex issue and must be given careful consideration by solicitors acting for a claimant. It is a matter to be aware of from the very beginning of your claim and throughout. The defence can be challenged by a claimant and will fail if the court deems the defendant not to have provided sufficient evidence to substantiate the reduction in the claimant’s damages. Therefore, it is important that you speak to a solicitor to ensure that you get the correct legal advice. You can find a regulated solicitor for free and without providing any of your personal data at www.search4legal.co.uk.