Contributory Negligence Explained

Contributory negligence is when you are involved in an accident which is not your fault, but your actions contribute towards your injuries in some way. A common example is when you are hurt in a motor vehicle accident as a passenger and your injuries are exacerbated because you were not wearing a seatbelt.

Negligence in personal injury claims

When making a personal injury claim, you must show that another person or organization acted negligently in some way, causing you to suffer injury.

For instance, if you are at a pedestrian crosswalk and the ‘walk’ sign is on, the driver of an oncoming vehicle must stop and allow you to cross. If a driver fails to do so and hits you, then he has not driven with due care and attention, causing you harm. In this scenario, the driver will be deemed negligent, and you (as the injured party) will be entitled to claim personal injury compensation.

Contributory negligence British Columbia

This seems simple enough, but there are times when fault lies with more than one person. In fact, fault may even partially lie with the injured individual. Using the above example, let us imagine that even though the walk sign is on, it is nighttime and you step out into the road without checking the oncoming traffic. You take the driver completely by surprise and he does not manage to stop the vehicle in time.

In such cases, the driver may still be held accountable for your injuries – after all, he has hit a pedestrian who had right of way at a crosswalk. However, you too failed to take reasonable steps to protect your own health and safety, as you walked out into the road without making sure the vehicle was slowing down. You did so knowing that it was dark and that it might be difficult for drivers to see you.

In situations such as these, it could be argued that you contributed towards your injuries, because they might not have occurred or been so bad, had you not acted negligently.

Examples of contributory negligence

Common examples of contributory negligence include –

  • Not wearing a seatbelt while travelling in a motor vehicle
  • Not wearing a helmet while cycling
  • Crossing a road without checking the oncoming traffic
  • Distracting the driver
  • Allowing yourself to be driven by someone who you know is tired or impaired by alcohol or drugs

These are just a few examples and it is important to note that contributory negligence is not just limited to motor vehicle accidents. It can be applied to slip, trip and falls claims, work accident claims, and wrongful death claims.

Contributory negligence in personal injury claims

Whatever the circumstances, if you make a personal injury claim and the defendant argues a case of contributory negligence, then he/she is trying to prove that fault lies (at least in part) with you. There are also other legal arguments that a defendant can use which are similar to contributory negligence. This includes the concept of the ‘inevitable accident’, which is when the defendant says he/she could not have prevented the incident from happening – perhaps because of unforeseen weather conditions.

If you are accused of contributory negligence, your personal injury lawyer will advise the best way forward. You can either accept or deny the allegation. If you dispute the notion that you contributed towards your injuries, it may be left to a Judge to decide. If you accept that you were in part responsible for your injuries, or a Judge finds there is an element of contributory negligence, then it could reduce the amount of compensation you are awarded. The reduction in damages will reflect your involvement in the accident.

For example, if you are found to be 10% responsible for your injuries, your compensation settlement will be reduced by 10%.

Expert legal advice

Contributory Negligence ExplainedContributory negligence is just one of the many factors that can complicate a personal injury claim. That is why you need to have the right legal support. Without it, you might not get the correct amount of compensation, or your claim may even fail.

If you are looking for personal injury lawyer to help you with a claim, please do not hesitate to contact us at John Mickelson Law Corporation. Either fill in the free online enquiry form or call us on 604 684 0040.

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