Now and again, no matter how careful we are, accidents happen. You might get hurt, for instance, and need to make a claim against the individual or party responsible for your injuries. But how do you go about this? What is involved in making a successful claim? When you are the victim of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you might want to know who is responsible for compensating you for your injuries and losses.
You might be aware of your right to claim damages against another party whose negligence causes an accident and injures you. Still, you might not know that you may also be entitled to claim damages in a personal injury case even if your negligence contributed to the accident and injury.
This is where contributory negligence comes in. It is a legal concept that rears its head in many personal injury cases. This article will tackle the aspects of contributory negligence, how it works, and how it affects your compensation in Canada. Keep reading to learn more.
Contributory negligence is a legal doctrine used in determining a party’s degree of fault in a tort action. When deciding who was negligent in an accident, the law will reduce the damages or eliminate liability for a plaintiff if that party was also negligent in their actions.
For example, a driver is not wearing his seatbelt. He got into an accident and suffered injuries. While the failure to wear a seatbelt did not wholly cause the accident, it contributed to his damage (the injury).
Another example would be a careless driver who is speeding and hits a pedestrian. However, that pedestrian did not check the pedestrian signal, which prohibited him from being on the crosswalk. Thus, the pedestrian is partly to blame for his injuries – even though the driver was speeding.
Contributory negligence is essential for two reasons. First, it can be used as a defence to a claim of negligence. If a judge or jury were persuaded that someone had wholly contributed to their own injury, then they would refuse to order an award of compensation. And secondly, contributors, or those found liable for a particular share of the damage, may have a right to reduce their liability below 100 percent.
The Contributory Negligence Act of Newfoundland and Labrador either wholly relieves an individual of liability or reduces it in cases of negligence. After an accident, there is a review of what happened and why. The fault must be proved legally to exist before the court can award damages or apportion liability between two or more parties.
The determination of responsibility involves a consideration of the conduct, level of care, behaviour and knowledge, capabilities, and foresight of each party to determine whether it meets the legal standard of fault necessary for later establishing liability for negligence. However, this law applies only in Newfoundland and Labrador and may be different in its delineations for contributory negligence from the laws in other cities, provinces, or territories.
For example, Ontario has the Negligence Act. Its stipulations include a section on finding a plaintiff guilty of contributory negligence. According to section 3 of the act (R.S.O. 1990, c. N.1, s. 3), “any action for damages that is founded upon the fault or negligence of the defendant if fault or negligence is found on the part of the plaintiff that contributed to the damages, the court shall apportion the damages in proportion to the degree of fault or negligence found against the parties respectively.”
The law also states that the court shall establish the degree of a person’s fault or negligence when damage were contributed to or caused by two or more individuals. When two or more persons are found to be negligent or at fault, they are all liable to the person injured or suffering a loss.
Contributory negligence is vital for compensation because it allows all those at fault to be held liable for the losses, even if the claimant was only partially responsible for the accident. It can also be helpful in cases where the defendant has admitted liability. If the claimant is found to be responsible for 50 percent of the injury, they may lose half of their compensation. They may not be required to compensate the full 100 percent.
No matter what the other side offers to settle out of court, an experienced lawyer will ensure you get fair compensation allowable by law.
It’s stressful to be involved in an accident, personal injury or wrongful claim. Even if you weren’t responsible for the accident, you may feel guilty and pressured to quickly settle. If that happens, the damages from your claim could be diminished because the other person was partly at fault. An experienced lawyer can let the insurance adjuster know the full extent of your injuries (and your ultimate goal) so that you can negotiate a fair settlement. If you don’t have an experienced lawyer advocating on your behalf, you could be paying thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Examples of Contributory Negligence
Vehicle struck while parked illegally
Clark was rear-ended in a parking lot by an impatient driver. The accident caused Clark severe injuries, rendering him unable to work. The defendant driver argued that Clark was illegally parked in the middle of the street when they hit him.
Collision with motorized cycle ridden by a 12-year-old
Calvin was riding his motorized cycle when he took it onto the public road. He drove across a carriageway and collided with Elvin. It was found that Calvin had not carried his motorized cycle’s lights and did not wear a helmet while riding either. Moreover, the brakes had been poorly maintained and significantly contributed to increasing the severity of the accident as well.
Slipping on a wet floor
Mary slipped on a floor of a beach resort and suffered a knee injury. Mary tried to sue the beach resort, claiming that it was negligent in failing to warn her of the wet floor. The trial judge concluded that Mary had not taken reasonable care for her safety by wearing open-backed shoes and carrying a bag that obstructed her view.
“Do you know that you can easily speak to any lawyer to know your rights? There are many lawyers who offer free consultations and you don’t have to pay a cent unless you win your case.”
Accidents can happen at any time. Having the right insurance policy in place with solid coverage can be critical to your financial future. Here at Diamond & Diamond, we help you read insurance policies, understand coverage options available to you, and apply the right level of protection for your situation.
Diamond & Diamond has helped hundreds of victims of personal injury throughout Canada. We have a team of experts to help you get the compensation you need and deserve when you come to us after an accident. With decades of combined experience in the field, our team has seen everything and knows how to represent your interests. Whether it’s a car accident, motorcycle accident, slip or trip and fall or even a dog bite, we know how to represent you. Click here to learn more about us.
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Proving liability in a contributory negligence case is often dependent on showing that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
Contributory negligence may be a defence to battery. However, it’s fact-specific and it’s best you speak to a lawyer.
Contributory negligence is where the injured party was at fault in some way. On the other hand, general negligence doesn’t relieve the defendant of their responsibilities. It may allow a jury to reduce the compensation they award the injured party if they feel that the party’s actions decreased their chance of injury.
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