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Accidents which lead to serious injury and disability may be caused by more than one person’s behaviour. Where someone has been seriously injured in an accident caused by somebody else, but their own actions also contributed to the accident or their injury, the injured person’s compensation may be reduced or ‘discounted’.

The discount will be proportionate to their own contributory negligence. However, the injured person may still be entitled to substantial compensation for their injuries. This is particularly important where the accident leads to catastrophic injuries, such as brain injury or other major trauma, where compensation may be a lifeline to rehabilitation, essential care and support and financial stability.

We strongly recommend that severely injured clients, or their families, should speak to us first before assuming they were to blame for their accident, so that we can advise on their entitlement to rehabilitation and compensation based on our expert assessment of the strength of their claim.

Our experienced injury claims lawyers are experts at achieving substantial compensation even in cases where the defendant’s insurers allege that our client’s own actions partly caused or contributed to the accident or their injury.

We always fight unreasonable allegations of contributory negligence or excessive discounts:

  • where they are not justified by the evidence;
  • where they are not relevant to our client’s injury, (such as failure to wear a motorcycle helmet if the injury relates to the spine, limbs etc but not their head);
  • where allegations of contributory negligence are used as a stalling tactic, defensive move or to delay our client’s access to settlement, interim payments or funding for rehabilitation.

Previous cases include:

  • £550,000 settlement plus over £26,000 of rehabilitation for a teenager who suffered a head injury when he fell from the boot of a friend’s moving car. “Car-surfing” is highly dangerous and our client was left with serious injuries. However, the driver should not have driven the car whilst our client was on its boot. Our client’s settlement was discounted by 35% from the full compensation sum of £846,150 for his injuries, to reflect his own contributory negligence.
  • £3 million compensation plus £225,000 rehabilitation for a young woman who suffered multiple injuries including a severe head injury when she was hit by a speeding car on a pedestrian crossing. We secured Rehabilitation Code funding which was paid for our client’s successful rehabilitation, in full, by the defendant’s insurers, despite arguments on contributory negligence relating to whether our client ran across the crossing when it was unsafe to do so. Our client’s rehabilitation assisted her recovery and she went on to complete her education and regain some independence through supported independent living.
  • £250,000 compensation in a claim against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) for the widow of a pedestrian who was killed by an untraced hit and run driver one evening as he crossed the road after going out drinking with friends. The compensation payment took into account a 40% reduction for the deceased’s own contributory negligence in crossing the road when the pedestrian traffic lights were red against him.
  • £337,000 compensation for a woman who suffered serious injury to her leg when the taxi in which she was a passenger ran into the back of a stationary car. The defendant admitted liability for the accident but alleged contributory negligence against our client who was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Our client’s compensation was reduced by 20% because her injuries would have been less severe if she had been wearing a seatbelt.

Making a contributory negligence claim

If you (or a family member) have suffered a severe injury in an accident, contributory negligence should not prevent you from seeking our advice about making a claim. Our personal injury lawyers are specialists in complex and severe injury claims and offer compassionate, expert, confidential advice. In most cases where somebody else was at least partly to blame for an accident, we can help seriously injured clients obtain some compensation.

As long as the defendant’s negligence was one of the causes of the accident, if the injured person’s own behaviour also partly caused the accident or their injury, this does not prevent them from making a claim. So, for example, if a motorcyclist is hit by the defendant’s car suddenly turning, without indicating, into their path, the motorcyclist may have a claim for compensation for their injuries.

If the motorcyclist is overtaking at speed, making it difficult to stop in time to avoid the collision, this may contribute to the cause of the accident. The motorcyclist’s failure to wear a helmet would not cause the accident but it could contribute to their head injury. If they had only suffered injuries to their limbs, for example, it would not be relevant to their claim.

Examples of contributory negligence include:

  • a pedestrian stepping onto a pedestrian crossing before the lights have changed in their favour;
  • a pedestrian failing to look before crossing the road;
  • a motorcyclist riding between lanes or weaving through the traffic;
  • cyclists or motorcyclists failing to wear a helmet;
  • drivers or passengers failing to wear a seatbelt;
  • cyclists, motorcyclists or other road users failing to wear high visibility clothing on the roads;
  • failing to wear protective clothing on a motorcycle;
  • failing to indicate before turning or pulling out into the road;
  • driving an unlit vehicle or bicycle in the dark;
  • driving too fast;
  • failing to wear protective clothing on a building site, warehouse, factory etc.

Will I have to pay anything if my injuries were partly caused by my own contributory negligence?

No. The injured person’s compensation may be reduced or ‘discounted’ by a percentage (or proportion) of the full value of their claim to reflect their own ‘contributory negligence’. This means that their compensation is reduced, so that the defendant only pays according to their share of the blame for our client’s injuries.

Our client pays nothing to the defendant. In cases where the contributory negligence discount was 100% that would mean that the injured person was 100% at fault for their own injuries (and the defendant not at all to blame) and our client would have no claim.

Occasionally, even where liability for an accident is shared, depending on the individual circumstances the injured person’s own behaviour might prevent them from succeeding with a claim. Commonly, these situations are where people are injured in accidents where they had put themselves at risk, such as where they were racing with the other driver, or where they allowed themselves to be carried on or in a vehicle by a driver who they knew was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Where someone has been severely injured in an accident, we always advise that you seek advice from our compassionate and experienced personal injury team before ruling out the possibility of making a claim.

Our serious injury lawyers have an impressive track record of securing substantial compensation for severely injured clients in even the most difficult and complex cases.

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"Happy to recommend your services"

Thank you again for all you have done for us and the way you have done it. We would be happy to recommend your services to anyone else in a similar position.

Boyes Turner client

"I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in my recovery"

"It really does turn your life upside down in a moment, not just for me but for my family as well. It’s been a difficult journey, sometimes very emotional, but I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in my recovery and in being able to tell this story tooMy story shows what can be achieved with the support of the right people and a little determination. I look back on where I was and I’m delighted with where I am now. I’ve still got a way to go and I still have some effects from the accident to deal with but I hope people see what I’ve achieved and it helps them as they begin their recovery."

Jessica Stevens

"We'd like to express our thanks to Kim and the team at Boyes Turner..."

We’d like to express our thanks to Kim and the team at Boyes Turner for the expertise, experience and professionalism in handling our daughter’s serious injury claim following a road accident. From arranging a team of rehab specialists and the necessary funding to the negotiation of the final very satisfactory settlement, the whole operation has been conducted very smoothly and we can recommend their service to anyone in a similar position.

"Thank you so much for all you have done..."

Thank you so much for all you have done for C and the family. I know that you have absolutely given it everything you’ve got and your devotion and commitment to the case has been spectacular.

Third party forensic accountant

"I wanted to take the opportunity to express my thanks..."

I wanted to take the opportunity to express my thanks to you for your professional attitude and handling of the claim throughout this tragic case.  It is in cases like this where the compensation can never compensate for the loss suffered, but hopefully it will help in some way to move forward.

Third party insurer