03 Jun 2024

Can I claim compensation even if I am partly to blame for an accident?

By Karen Hayes

In the UK, the legal concept of “contributory negligence” is used in cases where someone claiming compensation is partly to blame for the incident in which they were injured. It refers to a situation where the claimant’s own actions contributed to their injury or loss.

The extent to which your own actions contributed to your accident will be considered by a judge when determining the amount of compensation you receive.

But even if you are partly responsible, it does not necessarily mean you cannot make a claim, although it might affect how much you receive. Either the parties can reach an agreement out of Court, or the Court can assess the degree of fault on both sides and apportion liability accordingly.

Here are a couple of examples:

Car Accidents

Contributory negligence in a road accident could be something like not wearing a seatbelt as a driver or passenger. It is deemed that you have not taken precautions to prevent your injuries. If your injuries could have wholly been prevented by wearing a seatbelt your compensation could typically be reduced by 25%, but if the injuries would have only been reduced by a seat belt, then your compensation may only be reduced by 15%.

When deciding who is responsible for an accident in which a pedestrian is struck by a car, the actions of both car driver and pedestrian are reviewed to determine who was mostly at fault. Factors which are considered in assessing pedestrian contributory negligence may include whether the pedestrian crossed the road at a designated crossing, whether they were paying attention to traffic, whether they were intoxicated or were too busy using a mobile phone. Even if the police are involved but do not prosecute the driver for any criminal offence, the pedestrian may still be able to make a claim against the driver’s insurance for injuries and losses if the accident was partly the driver’s fault.

Workplace Accidents

In cases of workplace injuries, if an employee fails to follow safety procedures, misuses equipment or does not use the safety equipment provided, their actions might be considered as contributory negligence. This can then affect their compensation.

Contributory negligence is not a complete bar to making a claim in the UK. Even if you are partly at fault, you may still be entitled to some compensation.

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