What Happens if a Victim is Partly to Blame for the Accident or Their Injuries?

By  //  May 13, 2022

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When an accident takes place, everyone involved has an interest in figuring out who is at fault – in other words, to establish which party caused the accident. It’ll come as no surprise, determining negligence is tricky business, as the cause of the accident isn’t always obvious.

There’s a common belief that one party is completely guilty while the other party is completely innocent. This is pretty inaccurate. Each party will bear some blame, even if the accident is 99% the fault of one person.

Many people fail to seek compensation for their injuries, thinking they’ve lost the right to do so. Added to the pain of injury, this leaves them feeling vulnerable and extremely insecure about the future. Plus, the guilty person goes free. Punishment must follow culpable actions. 

To be successful in a personal injury claim and recover compensation, it’s necessary to prove that the accident was someone else’s fault and their negligence contributed to your injuries and losses. The claim for damages will be reduced, given that you share responsibility for the damage. So, you can still recover damages from the negligent party, but there’s a catch.

You shouldn’t be more than 50% responsible for what happened. The UK legal system focuses on the examination of facts. By contrast, the US legal system is adversarial, and theatrics are accepted. Each case and situation are different, which is why it’s recommended to reach out to a knowledgeable legal professional as soon as possible. 

When You’re Partly Responsible for An Accident, It’s Called Contributory Negligence

The insurance company will most likely say that unreasonable conduct arose at the time of the accident, and this led to loss and damage. More exactly, they’ll argue contributory negligence, limiting responsibility to the smallest extent possible. Contributory negligence can reduce the amount of compensation you receive or bar recovery.

It’s up to the Court to decide how much damage was caused by your actions. If you don’t take due diligence to avoid the consequences resulting from negligence, you’re legally liable. Personal injury cases aren’t clear cut. Obtaining compensation depends on proving you share a lesser percentage of the blame. 

As an example, you were involved in a road traffic accident and forgot to put on your seatbelt. You wouldn’t have suffered an injury had you worn the seatbelt. The Court will deduct 25% for contributory negligence. The rules on this aren’t set in stone. The judge can reduce the damages amount as they think is just and equitable.

At any rate, failure to wear a seatbelt enhances the length of time necessary to settle the personal injury case. Attention needs to be paid to the fact that contributory negligence applies to all personal injury cases, not just car accidents. Examples include public liability cases and industrial disease cases.   

There’s No Such Thing As 100% Contributory Negligence 

Before a change in the law, if you were partly to blame for your own injuries, you didn’t receive any compensation. The Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945 enabled judges to make awards of damages to plaintiffs partly at fault for an accident or injury. The legislation has withstood the test of time.

Even if the damage is partly the result of the claimant’s own fault, there can’t be 100% contributory negligence. Simply put, there’s zero correlation between the defendant’s breach of the duty of care and the claimant’s damage. The defendant has the burden of proof when it comes down to contributory negligence. 

Once the defendant has proved that the claimant contributed to their injury, a reduction has to be made, even if it’s impossible to establish the extent of contribution. If they might have avoided the consequences by exercising reasonable care, the law will leave the consequences to rest. The judge can’t speculate on what happened.

In workplace accidents, for an employee’s conduct to represent contributory negligence, it has to exceed inadvertence or reasonable risk-taking. The care to be expected varies with the circumstances. For instance, a young inexperienced worker can’t be expected to be as safe as an experienced one.  

It’s Vital to Get the Right Legal Advice from The Very Get-Go 

Having legal advice means making things less complex. Get insight from someone who’s familiar with the legal doctrine so that you understand what you’re up against. Their knowledge of the law, insurance company tactics, and previous case history will save you time and money.

It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a trained legal professional by your side to offer support and much-needed peace of mind. You’re emotionally involved, so your judgement might be clouded. They’ll be your first line of assistance. You can make a no win no fee compensation against the person or organisation responsible for your injury or illness. 

Engage a solicitor to build your defence and advise you during the process. As highlighted by the experts at Review of Solicitors, you’ll want someone to give your case proper attention. There are plenty of options, so it can be overwhelming to go through them. Look for a solicitor that specialises in personal injury, as they better understand the laws that apply to your case.

What you need is someone who’s successfully negotiated settlements and litigated personal injury cases. It’s highly unlikely that your personal injury case will result in a trial. As opposed to the US system, the UK system discourages vexatious litigation, so most cases are settled out of Court. 

It’ll be easier to deal with a nearby law firm. You can drop by at any time and handle the situation face-to-face. Silence from your solicitor isn’t a good thing. When communicating with your solicitor, remain polite and show respect for their professionalism. Keep in mind that your solicitor is there to guide you through turbulent times to achieve the best possible outcome.

Even if you feel you’re to blame for the accident, don’t discuss fault with the insurance company. Don’t accept any degree of blame verbally, and don’t say yes to a settlement that will reduce your compensation.