Importance and Examples of Contributory Negligence

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Importance and Examples of Contributory Negligence

In the legal world, numerous laws are written for a single type of crime. For example, the act of negligence is a type of crime that can be categorized into four different types.

Among them, the law on contributory negligence is an important one as that law was one of the first to be practiced in negligence cases.

To rule an accident as contributory negligence, it is essential to take in the minute details and all the pieces of evidence possible surrounding the ordeal.

The level of involvement of both parties is a significant factor in such cases.

Therefore, in this article, we will discuss the importance and examples of contributory negligence and how this information will help you if ever required.

What Does Negligence Mean?

Generally speaking, the word negligence is used to refer to an action taken by somebody, which is considered to be careless or reckless and is done without any consideration.

In law, the term negligence has a similar meaning, however, with far more severe consequences.

An action or crime is labeled as negligence when the consequences of the action lead to severe injury or the death of the other party.

The consequence could have been avoided if only the defendant was more careful and did not break any law.

Read Also: Can I Handle My Personal Injury Cases Myself?

What are the Four Types of Negligence?

Sometimes it can be difficult to rule out an act of crime as negligence as many factors need to be taken into consideration.

However, the law recognizes four different types of negligence, and they are:

  • Comparative Negligence
  • Vicarious Liability
  • Contributory Negligence
  • Gross Negligence

Importance and Examples of Contributory Negligence

When an accident occurs, there are two parties involved, namely – the claimant and the defendant.

To put it in simple words, the claimant is the victim or the injured party, and the defendant is the one who caused the injuries due to some negligence on their part.

A contributory negligence accident occurs when both parties are ignorant and chooses to neglect an essential act of law or basic rules.

In contributory negligence, it is crucial to determine to what percentage the claimant was at fault and might have contributed to the accident.

The defense lawyer’s main goal here is to make sure they can prove that the accident was not a hundred percent the defendant’s fault and that, to some extent, the claimant was responsible too.

It is important to prove the claimant’s involvement and contribution to the accident because the percentage of involvement will determine the claimant’s amount of compensation.

The reason behind this is, according to the law of contributory negligence.

If the claimant is found even one percent guilty for the accident, they will not receive any compensation whatsoever.

This law was considered to be extremely harsh. Hence, a minor amendment was suggested regarding the law.

In accordance with the new amendment of the contributory negligence law, a claimant can receive compensation if they are responsible for the accident to a certain percentage.

If it is ruled that the claimant will only receive compensation if they are guilty of 30% or less of the accident.

Read Also: Common Myths about Personal Injury and Car Accident Claims

Examples of Contributory Negligence

For instance, it has been assessed that the claimant will receive compensation of $50 000.

But it has been proven that the claimant was responsible for 30% of the accident that took place.

Thus, 30% of 50 000 will be deducted, and the claimant will receive $35 000 in the end.

However, if the claimant is guilty of more than 30%, i.e., 30.1 percent, then the claimant will not receive any compensation.

For further clarification, here are some examples of accidents that are considered to be an act of contributory negligence.

  • When a pedestrian crosses the road without checking for traffic first.
  • When a motorcyclist weave between lanes in a busy road.
  • When a driver does not put on his seat belt.
  • When a car is parked illegally in a no-parking zone.
  • When an individual slips on a wet floor in a public area.
  • When someone crosses the speed limit on a busy road or highway.
  • When someone neglects to take necessary steps to ensure their safety.
  • When a worker drives recklessly in a hazardous construction area.

Given above are some examples of a situation that can be considered to be an act of contributory negligence.

It is important to note that these crimes take place when both parties – the claimant and the defendant – are equally neglectful to some extent.

Therefore, the percentages of the negligence of both parties are essential to building up the premise of the case.

What is the Difference between Contributory and Comparative Negligence?

The difference between contributory and comparative negligence is exceptionally subtle.

Historically, contributory negligence was the law that was consistently implemented in such cases.

However, as mentioned above, contributory negligence was considered to be quite harsh, and thus, comparative negligence was introduced – a more modified version of contributory negligence.

As explained above, in contributory negligence, the claimant may or may not receive compensation depending upon the percentage of their involvement in the accident.

On the other, in comparative negligence, the claimant has a guarantee they will receive compensation.

The defense lawyer will determine to what extent the claimant is responsible for the accident and, based on the percentage, the claimant will receive compensation.

The ratio or the percentage of the claimant’s contribution to the accident does not matter.

So, even if the claimant is 99% responsible, they will still receive 1% compensation from the defendant.


If you ever find yourself in a situation that could be ruled as an act of negligence, it is crucial to make sure you get the help of the experts.

Lawyers with expertise in such cases will collect all the necessary evidence and information before doing a thorough investigation.

This is recommended for both the claimant and the defendant.

If you are the claimant, the lawyers will ensure you get compensated.

If you are the defendant, the lawyers will ensure you do not pay more compensation than you owe.

Not all accidents can be labelled as contributory negligence.

Therefore, it is important to understand the concept along with the importance and examples of contributory negligence.

FAQ on Contributory Negligence

Discussed below is a list of frequently asked questions about the importance and examples of contributory negligence.

What are the Elements of Contributory Negligence?

The elements of contributory negligence are:

  • Duty
  • Breach
  • Causation
  • Damages

What Happens If Contributory Negligence Applies?

The claimant will receive compensation for the percentage they are not responsible for the accident.

However, whatever percentage they are guilty of will be reduced from the total percentage of the compensation.

What Can Damages Be Claimed for Negligence?

The damages that can be claimed for negligence are:

  • Punitive damages
  • Economic damages
  • Non-economic damages
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