Understanding Contributory Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

Did you know that contributory negligence is common in Australia’s personal injury cases? In case you don’t know, contributory negligence refers to the act of a person contributing to the injuries they suffer. In other words, contributory negligence is when the victim of an accident is also partly to blame for their injuries.

For example, if you sustained severe injuries following a car accident but you weren’t wearing a seat belt, the vehicle’s driver may not be completely at fault for your injuries. 

If the court finds that you were partly at fault for the accident, it may give you less compensation for your injuries than it would have if you had not been at fault. This is because the court may find that if you had been more careful, the injuries might not have been severe.

If you are hurt in an accident, contacting a personal injury attorney is crucial since it can be challenging to show contributory fault.

 Negligence in Common Law

 Injury lawyers often describe negligence, a component of tort law, as failing to take reasonable precautions to prevent harming or losing another person. The law of negligence primarily protects people from careless actions that could reasonably be expected to cause harm. It is not intended to punish people for honest mistakes or accidents. 

If someone behaved in a way that a reasonable person would not have under the same circumstances, that individual has often violated the definition of negligence. This involves looking at what the person did or failed to do and comparing it to what a good person would have done in the same situation.

Contributory Negligence in Personal Injury Claims 

In Western Australia, contributory negligence in most personal injury claims arises when:

  • The plaintiff has successfully shown the defendant’s negligence, but the plaintiff’s conduct or omission, according to the defendant, caused or contributed to their loss.
  • The defendant might deny the plaintiff’s negligence or admit the plaintiff’s failure but seek a reduction in damages for contributory negligence.

The Civil Liability Act 2002 (WA) governs the contributory negligence law in western Australia. Section 5 of the Act provides that a person is not liable for damages concerning personal injury to another person if the other person’s negligence caused the injury. In addition, it states:

  • The other person’s negligence was a substantial contributing factor to the injury; and
  • The person is not entitled to be indemnified by another person regarding the damage.

The Act does not expressly define what a “substantial contributing factor” means. However, the common law provides some guidance on this issue. For instance, in the case of a car accident, the court may consider whether the plaintiff was speeding, not wearing a seat belt, or driving under the influence of alcohol.

If the plaintiff or defendant wishes to seek an injury lawyer, the court will consider the following factors: 

  • The nature of the injury
  • The circumstances in which the injury occurred
  • The number of damages claimed
  • Whether the plaintiff or defendant is entitled to be indemnified by another person in respect of the injury

Final Thoughts

Contributory negligence is just one factor that may be considered when determining liability in a personal injury case. Discussing with an experienced injury lawyer is imperative to understand the potential implications.

Been in an accident and made a claim? D’Angelo Legal is a company you can trust for your personal injury cases. Our team of well-versed and top-notch injury lawyers in Perth has helped many clients prove contributory negligence and win their cases. Start a conversation with us today to book a free consultation with our lawyers.