Could you give me some examples of contributory negligence cases? I was involved in an accident where I experienced serious injuries but I’m not sure where I stand as regards contributory negligence.

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Contributory negligence can be applied to a personal injuries claim when two or more – and sometimes the potential plaintiff – can be jointly held responsible for causing the accident or contributing to the deterioration of injuries; examples of contributory negligence cases may include a multi-car pile-up, when the potential plaintiff fails to wear a seat belt or when the victim in an accident fails to seek immediate medical attention. These three contributory negligence examples will be outlined below.

The first example of a contributory negligence case is a multi-car pile-up, where liability is shared and compensation awarded to the innocent party on a percentage basis. Let’s assume that Car A caused the initial accident by running a red light and crashing into Car B. Car C caused further damage by driving too fast, being unable to stop and crashing into the rear of Car B. Being the plaintiff, Car B would then sue Cars A and C whose insurers will, in all likelihood, accept liability and agree to each pay a percentage of the total compensation amount e.g. A may pay 65 per cent and C would pay 35 per cent.

The next one of the examples of contributory negligence cases is a when the plaintiff has contributed to his or her own injuries due to the fact that they were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. By law in Ireland, all road users – be they drivers or passengers – must wear a seatbelt and the value of the plaintiff’s compensation claim may decrease by up to 25 per cent if it can be proven that they were not wearing their seatbelt when the accident occurred. Additionally, it is would be assumed, in this type of case, that the injuries sustained by the plaintiff would not have been as severe had he or she being wearing a seatbelt.

The final example of a contributory negligence case is when the plaintiff failed get professional medical attention in the time immediately after the accident occurred, leading to the deterioration of their injuries. First aid and self-treatment of injuries are not considered adequate evidence for the injuries sustained, and any unwarranted gap between the date of the accident and the date you finally have your injuries recorded in your medical history is likely to lead to your compensation claim being contested by the negligent party’s insurers.

From viewing these examples of contributory negligence cases, it is clear to see that the assistance of a solicitor is necessary to make a successful claim. An experienced solicitor will ensure that you will at maximise the amount of compensation that you are entitled to.