Contributory negligence or partial fault is such an important subject and worthy of its own section.
You can prove your case by showing you were injured by someone who did not take reasonable care for your safety. They might be able to show you were partially to blame, and therefore contributed to the injury. Your contribution is assessed as a percentage, and that same percentage is knocked off your compensation. That may sound fair enough, but the effect can be tough. Losing 50 per cent of a £2,000 claim may not be the end of the world, but in a larger case, where most of the compensation is ear-marked to pay for long term care, losing even a small percentage for contributory negligence, can be very expensive indeed.
Even if liability is admitted in your case, contributory negligence can still be argued against you. An admission of liability alone does not mean you will receive full compensation. You need confirmation that contributory negligence is not to be argued. A simple example is a car and pedestrian road accident. The car should have been driven in such a way that the driver could safely stop or avoid anything or anyone in its path. So if a pedestrian is hit by a car on a road, the pedestrian will usually succeed. The closer the car is to a pedestrian when he or she steps into the road, the more likely is a finding of contributory negligence.
A regular argument against the claim of a motorcyclist is speed. “I did not see you” says the car driver, but if you were going slower I would have had more chance to see you.
Contributory negligence is often agreed, and if not agreed, assessed by a Court. Contributory negligence is often used in negotiations as a way of persuading a claimant to accept less than the full value of their case. So in a case where contributory negligence has not been agreed or decided on by a Court, you will always have this argument nagging at you when negotiating, or at Trial.
Do not quickly accept contributory negligence. The test for negligence is not high. Have you failed to take reasonable care for the safety of someone else? That is the test and a low standard of proof is applied, called the balance of probabilities, which means is something more likely than not. So it is not difficult to show someone is at fault, and on the other side of the argument it may not be difficult to show you have contributed, but do not give in too easily.
Where does the balance of responsibility lie. Someone driving a large and heavy metal object, better known as a car, must take more care than the pedestrian. An employer has responsibility for the work place and equipment, so carries that additional level of responsibility. Do not forget this balance when thinking about contributory negligence.
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