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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.
  • £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.

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Meet your specialist team

Our specialist Contributory negligence claims & compensation team are considered leaders in the field and have a significant amount of expertise.
Kim Milan

Kim Milan

Senior Partner

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Claire Roantree


Martin Anderson

Martin Anderson

Associate Solicitor

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Beth Hatton


Roshni Patel photo

Roshni Patel


Kim Milan
Claire Roantree headshots
Martin Anderson
Beth Hatton headshoot
Roshni Patel photo

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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

"Personal Injury Claim"

Claire is exceptionally knowledgeable in the personal injury legal domain, especially in the specific area of my injury. From our very first conversation, she was clear in explaining the potential different routes that the process could take and provided me with expectations of what I could expect along the journey.

She ensured that all bases were covered, organising meetings, discussions and necessary specialist appointments, in order to bring together the case and take it forward. Claire was then able to use her extensive pool of contacts, to appoint an "area leading" barrister, to represent me.

Overall, I was very pleased with appointing Claire and Boyes Turner to act as my solicitor for the legal claim that I pursued. Thank you for all of your support.

Boyes Turner Client

"Boyes turner workplace injury claim"

I approached Claire Roantree of Boyes Turner in regards to making a claim about a workplace burns injury. It was something that had scarred me physically and mentally and taken a huge toll on the lives of me and my family. Claire wasted no time in finding out what happened and made sure I was treated by known experts and quickly finding an answer to my burns scarring and how I could be treated to help manage my pain. Claire also helped me by appointing a psychiatrist to understand my situation and help me cope with post traumatic stress disorder. As well as taking as much stress of the claim away, she was thorough in every situation, making sure I had the best possible claim, and handled it all expertly, I am so very grateful to her and her team. They have helped guide my life back into a positive direction and I can't thank her enough!

Boyes Turner Client

"Personal Injury claim"

Excellent service from Claire and her team at all times. We were kept up to date at each stage of our claim. The outcome was much better than we expected and we would not hesitate to recommend Boyes Turner to family and friends.

Boyes Turner Client

"Lifechanging Law Firm"

Kim handled my personal injury claim after a car accident with immeasurable expertise and compassion. Boyes Turner arranged every part of my private rehabilitation, which greatly improved the speed and quality of my recovery.

Each stage of the litigation process was dealt with efficiently and succinctly. This was then always explained without using unclear legal jargon.

On both health and financial levels, I would be in a far worse position without Kim’s invaluable input. I cannot recommend this firm enough.


"Helping me start to get my life back together"

The last 6 years since my incident have been so my mental health and general life. When I chose Boyes Turner, I was expecting just a solicitor to take my case forward. What in fact I actually got is a solicitor who genuinely cared about what had happened to me and wanted to help me get justice. Without their support I would have probably given in and excepted what happened. I am so glad that I didn’t, now it’s over I am now feeling empowered knowing it wasn’t my fault. They have given me hope for the future. It is more than a job for Claire, she is caring and kind, are wants the best for clients. Thank you.

Rated Excellent 4.8/5