Contributory Negligence in Personal Injury: Definition and Examples

Contributory Negligence in Personal Injury

Contributory negligence in a personal injury reduces the compensation for the resulting damage. It is the act or omission that can change the whole perception of the case. So it’s worth considering twice before committing foolishness, hoping that no one will find out about him.

To understand what Contributory Negligence is, you have to understand both the terms and their meanings.

So, in the next few paragraphs, we will discuss the terms and the negligence act. We will try to use some examples so that it becomes clearer.

Table of Contents

What is Contributory Negligence?

A legal principle known as “contributory negligence” assesses each party’s level of responsibility in a tort lawsuit. The law reduces damages or releases a defendant from duty if they were also negligent in their activities when determining who was negligent in an accident.

For two reasons, contributing negligence is important. It can first be used to counter a charge of negligence. A judge or jury would decline to order an award of compensation if they were convinced that the defendant had entirely been responsible for their own injury. Second, contributors, or those held guilty for a specific portion of the damage, may have the option to have their obligation reduced from 100% to less than 100%.

Contributory Negligence Examples

Example 1

The cyclist drives with the phone in his hand. He does not notice that there will be a collision with the car in a moment. The driver of the vehicle gently hits him, so he is found guilty.

However, a cyclist may have been able to avoid an accident by driving the bicycle without a phone in his hand. In this way, he contributed to the damage.

Read Also: What to do if you get hit by a car on a bike?

Example 2

Another example of a situation: on a single carriageway with a wide, paved emergency lane, the driver passes another vehicle “on the third.” Driving in the opposite direction warns the overtaking person by blinking the traffic light. However, he does not pull to the side of the road, and an accident occurs.

The perpetrator is, of course, overtaking. But the behavior of the driver on the opposite side may be considered omission because he might have swung into the side lane.

If he did, he would have avoided the collision or reduced the extent of the damage. It is nothing but a contribution.

Read Also: Types of Personal Injury Cases

Example 3

A road through a forest area with a sign warning against wild animals. After dark, the driver of the vehicle drives at a speed of 90 km / h and hits a running animal.

According to the law, he did not break the rules because he was driving at the speed limit. But under certain circumstances, the court may decide that he should reduce speed in conditions of limited visibility.

Also, he should have been aware of the above-mentioned sign. This can be considered a contributing factor.

Contributory Negligence: What Does The Contributory Negligence Act Say?

According to the Contributory Negligence Act:

The Civil Code provides a quite loosely understood definition of contributory negligence,

If the aggrieved party contributed to the occurrence or increase of the damage, the obligation to repair it shall be appropriately reduced, depending on the circumstances, and in particular to the degree of fault of both parties.”

Difficult to understand? Let’s decipher it.

This means that if the injured person contributed in some way to the damage, he/she is considered complicit. The contribution may include damage resulting from a road accident. Accordingly, her compensation may be reduced. The compensation reduction is proportional to the degree of contribution.

The contribution should be understood as such behavior of the injured party that is causally related to the damage. It may therefore be an act, but also an omission.

In simple words, it is the failure to take any appropriate action that had an impact on the damage caused. The possibility of reducing compensation exists when there is a relationship between the insured’s act and the damage caused.

If the injured had not acted in such a way, he would not have suffered the damage at all. Or even he had suffered, it would have occurred to a smaller extent.

Thus, it can be assumed that any inappropriate behavior of the injured party potentially reduces his compensation.  However, if the behavior had any impact on the damage’s occurrence, it will be considered negligence.

Degree of Contribution – What Is It?

The fact is, there is no such thing as a percentage of contribution percentage. In determining it, all the circumstances of the event and those that took place before it are taken into account. The injured persons who contributed to the damage are often very surprised by the court’s low compensation.

How Does it Look in Practice?

The data of the Insurance Guarantee Fund analyzes the final judgments. For example, it shows that the highest degree of contribution is awarded to drunk persons.

Suppose he is drunk pedestrian sleeping on the road when there is a sidewalk next to it. He may not receive any compensation at all. The degree of contribution in such cases ranges from 30 to even 100 percent.

It is worth knowing that 100 percent contributing is tantamount to the sole fault of the aggrieved party. However, he is still not the perpetrator of his own harm.

Also, a sober person who invades a pedestrian crossing may lose 15 to 80 percent of their compensation. Drinking together with the driver and carpooling afterward is an average of 30-70 percent contributing.

Contributory Negligence vs Comparative Negligence

A more current legal theory than contributory negligence is called comparative fault, and many states have chosen it because it is considerably better for the defendant (i.e. the party who was injured and is filing the lawsuit). Simply put:

Contributory negligence: If a defendant is determined to have contributed to the accident, they are fully prohibited from claiming damages.
Comparative fault: If the defendant is partially at blame, comparative fault lowers damages by a certain percentage.


Have you been the victim of contributory negligence in a personal injury? Your insurance may refuse to compensate you or minimize the consequences of the accident to pay you very little compensation.

Especially to examine the percentage of contribution, the other party will appoint their own lawyer. He will not necessarily be impartial. The assistance of a lawyer is essential at all stages of the process. The goal of the lawyer is to make sure that your rights are respected.

Related Article:

What are The Minor Injury Guideline Everyone Must Follow?

Soliciting Legal Assistance for Workplace Injury

A Complete Guide to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit



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