Skip to main content

Contact us to arrange your
FREE initial consultation

Email us Call me back

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.
  • £650,000 settlement for a teenager in a strongly defended RTA brain injury claim. The 13-year-old boy was rollerblading across a poorly lit dual carriageway when he was hit by a car. He suffered a brain injury. Despite unsupportive witness evidence we secured a settlement which provided compensation for our client but took into account his own ‘contributory negligence’ in crossing the road without checking that it was clear. We secured interim payments which paid for in-patient rehabilitation. The final settlement of £650,000, represented 40% of the claim’s full value of £1.6million.
  • £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.

Read more

Who can we help make a personal injury claim?

If I make a claim for compensation, will I need to go to court?

How long do personal injury compensation claims take?

What compensation can I claim for serious injury?

What is an interim payment?

How do I get started with making a claim?

How are personal injury claims funded?

What injuries can lead to a personal injury compensation claim?

What is a personal injury claim?

What are the time limits for making a personal injury claim?

Road traffic accidents cases

View all

Awards & Accreditations

Our teams have been nationally recognised over the past decade for their dedication and commitment to securing maximum compensation for our clients

             Brake | The Road Safety Charity

What our clients say

Our clients constantly recognize us as the most experienced, professional, efficient and supportive

See more

"Thanks for everything"

“Thanks for everything. It’s been very nice to be able to put it all behind us and try to move forward.  I cannot thank you and Boyes Turner for all you have done for me. It goes without saying I would always recommend Boyes Turner. I couldn’t have done it without your support.”

Boyes Turner Client

"You got us the best outcome and I can’t thank you enough"

 Thank you for all your hard work on behalf of myself and my family. You were recommended to us by a close friend back in 2017 and I will certainly recommend you again. You’ve been amazing and very reassuring considering how complicated I made things at times. It’s been one of the hardest times of my life but I was glad I had you on the end of the phone. It’s a surreal feeling now it’s all over but very relieved you got us the best outcome and I can’t thank you enough.

Boyes Turner Client

"Extremely grateful for her professionalism and attention to detail. "

Through my dealings with Claire as my representative in a personal injury claim, I have been extremely grateful for her professionalism and attention to detail. 

I believe going above and beyond to help accommodate my needs and explain everything in a way that I could understand. Working around timing for video calls and zoom meetings with myself and my mum, often on weekends and evenings. We always knew she was just a phone call away to answer any questions we had and if she didn’t have the answer then it would be found out for us. Once the claim was settled, she has still offered her support and provided contacts to do with my injury fund and further surgery I need. 

Boyes Turner client

"Great support throughout a very emotional and difficult period"

Claire was very much the lynchpin in achieving settlement of a complex case. From the outset Claire ensured steps were taken to manage both rehabilitation and legal/case requirements in the correct sequence; this included the early appointment of a case manager.

In addition Claire has been a great support throughout a very emotional and difficult period in our lives.

Boyes Turner client

"I cannot recommend them highly enough"

After being involved in a Road Accident I enlisted the services of Boyes Turner to help settle our compensation claim for damages and ongoing injuries that I incurred as a result. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Their ongoing support throughout an extremely stressful ordeal was second to none. I suffered multiple injuries and they organised all my ongoing medical needs both physically and mentally, to help aid my recovery and rehabilitation. They managed my case with the utmost professionalism, concluding it satisfactorily so that I can move forward with my life and recovery. Thank you to Claire and her team for their amazing ongoing support and work with handling my case, in a time of great stress and uncertainty. Thank you so much for all you have done for me and my family.


Boyes Turner client