It’s fairly well known that if someone injures themselves due to another person’s negligence, they can seek damages. A slip on an unmarked wet floor, a trip on an uneven surface or even a stumble over a piece of fruit are all common cases, and ‘damages’ is a term most people are familiar with. There is one term that most people aren’t aware of: contributory negligence.
Contributory negligence is a term anyone claiming damages should become familiar with, as it can seriously affect the claim. It refers to the contribution the injured person made to the accident. For example, if Stephen, after a slipping accident, claims that a Manchester food supplier left a grapefruit on the floor, he probably has a good case for damages. If he was staring at his mobile phone at the time, he contributed to the accident by not paying enough attention to where he was going.
A finding of contributory negligence will affect the case in different ways. In the example above, Stephen was simply not paying attention. If, however, he had climbed over a barrier to walk across a floor strewn with grapefruit, his contribution to his accident would be greater.
The case for contributory negligence has to be proved by the defendant – the person or company being claimed against. They must prove that the injured person failed to take care of their own safety, and that failure contributed to the accident. If proved, this finding will affect the damages payment, but it won’t cancel it out completely. A court can’t find that the contributory negligence was one hundred per cent.
While contributing to an accident doesn’t mean that a person isn’t entitled to some compensation, it’s important to be aware of contributory negligence and be prepared to defend against it. Personal injury solicitors in Manchester, London or elsewhere should be questioned about their experiences before hiring.