Contributory negligence

Contributory negligence

Contributory negligence in common-law jurisdictions is defense to a claim based on negligence, an action in tort. It applies to cases where a plaintiff/claimant has, through his own negligence, contributed to the harm he suffered. For example, a pedestrian crosses a road negligently and is hit by a driver who was driving negligently.

Contributory negligence is often regarded as unfair because under the doctrine a victim who is at fault to any degree, including only 1% at fault, may be denied compensation entirely.[1]:85

Contributory negligence can be compared to comparative negligence, where the negligence of the plaintiff is not a complete defense of the insured but can reduce the damages.


Burden of proof

In some jurisdictions, the defendant has to prove the negligence of a plaintiff or claimant. In others, the burden is on a plaintiff to disprove his own negligence. The tortfeasor may still be held liable if he had the last clear chance to prevent the injury (the last clear chance doctrine).


Contributory negligence is generally a defense to a tort of negligence. The defense is not available if the tortfeasor's conduct amounts to malicious or intentional wrongdoing, rather than to ordinary negligence. In England and Wales, it is not a defense to the tort of conversion or trespass to chattels. In the U.S., it is not a defense to any intentional tort.


"Contributory Negligence" was the title of a circa 1982 poem by Attila the Stockbroker, a performance poet in the U.K. The poem criticized a court decision where a rapist escaped heavy punishment and was ordered to pay only a fine on the ground that the women in some way provoked or contributed to the rape.


The doctrine of contributory negligence was dominant in U.S. jurisprudence in the 19th and 20th century.[1] The English case Butterfield v. Forrester is generally recognized as the first appearance, although ironically in this case the judge found the victim to be the sole proximate cause of the injury.[1]

See also


External links

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