Contributory negligence is where the person bringing the claim is partly responsible either for the way the accident happened, or for the extent of the injuries sustained.
The law expects that we have to take responsibility for our actions and for our own safety.
Contributory negligence is usually expressed in terms of a percentage - e.g. the other party is 75% to blame and the claimant is 25% to blame.
The effect of this on a claim is that the claimant has still won for the purpose of being awarded compensation and the other party still has to pay a contribution towards the legal fees. However, the compensation will be reduced by any percentage which a person is found to have been to blame. Therefore a claim valued at £2,000, where there is a finding of 25% contributory negligence will see the award reduced to £1,500.
The percentage will vary according to the circumstances of an accident. A common example is in a road traffic accident, where a seatbelt has not been worn. The accident may have been another driver’s fault, but the injuries have been made worse by failure to wear a seatbelt.
The highest contributory negligence apportionments often occur in overtaking or “filtering” cases.
Typically, contributory negligence apportionments start at 20% going upwards.
It is not possible for a court to hold a person to have been 100% contributorily negligent.