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What’s an Example of Contributory Negligence?

What’s an Example of Contributory Negligence?

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When an event results in injury, one of the first questions on people’s minds is, “Whose fault was it?” When multiple parties may be at fault, it’s up to the jury to split the responsibility between all parties involved. 

So, how does the victim collect compensation? Continue reading to find out. 

Understanding Negligence 

A judge may find a party negligent if their behavior causes an unnecessary risk of injury to another party. Every state abides by a set of rules known as joint and several liabilities, which helps determine the compensation (amount) of damages (if any) the defendant must pay the plaintiff (victim). Furthermore, each state either follows contributory negligence or comparative negligence. 

In today’s blog, we’re going to focus on contributory negligence.

What Is Contributory Negligence? 

Contributory negligence characterizes conduct that creates an unreasonable risk to one’s self. The idea is that an individual has a duty of care to act reasonably. When a person fails to act reasonably, and an injury occurs, they’re entirely or partially responsible for said injury—even if there’s another party involved. 

Examples of Contributory Negligence

Example 1: Bob, a motorist, strikes Jennifer, a pedestrian. Jennifer crossed the street without looking both ways, and she also ignored a “Do Not Cross” sign standing by the streetlight. Who do you think is at fault in this situation?

Once the injured party (plaintiff) files a negligence claim, the defendant can file a contributory negligence claim against the plaintiff. This document states the injury occurred partially as a result of the plaintiff’s actions. 

If the defendant proves the contributory negligence claim, the plaintiff might be ineligible to receive damages. However, if the judge believes the plaintiff should still receive compensation, they may reduce the amount to reflect the plaintiff’s role in the resulting injury. 

In this example, a judge would find Jennifer partially at fault for recklessly crossing the street; therefore, Jennifer is liable for contributory negligence. 

Example 2: Martha is driving when suddenly, she’s cut off by a reckless driver named Patrick, resulting in an accident. Unfortunately, Martha ends up with a neck injury. At the time of the accident, Martha drove at 80 mph, even though the posted speed limit is 60 mph. 

Under contributory negligence, Martha may not be able to collect damages from Patrick for her injury or car. A judge might rule her negligence contributed to the collision because she was speeding. The extent of Martha’s injuries and Patrick’s recklessness don’t matter under contributory negligence. 

Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton Can Help With Your Claim

If someone sues you for negligence, but you believe the plaintiff is partially at fault, you might be able to file a counterclaim for contributory negligence. One of the experienced personal injury attorneys at Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton can help you hold the other party accountable in court. Schedule a free case evaluation today.