Contributory negligence is a Defence that is sometimes put forward by Defendant insurance companies and/or Defendant solicitors in accident at work cases. Essentially contributory negligence means that the Defendant insurers/solicitors are accepting that an employer is partially liable for a claimant’s injuries, but that the Claimant contributed to the accident and is also partially liable for causing said accident. If contributory negligence is accepted it will result in a deduction of the Claimant’s damages. The percentage that is deducted will depend on the degree to which the Claimant is thought to have contributed to the accident.
In the context of road traffic accidents, for example, Claimant’s will generally face a deduction of approximately 25% if they are not wearing their seatbelt.
When considering whether or not contributory negligence arises in an accident at work case the Court will consider a variety of factors, including but not limited to the following:
- Was the Claimant adequately trained?
- Was the Claimant performing a task within their job description?
- Was the Claimant provided with adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
- Were proper risk assessments carried out by the Claimant’s employer?
- Was adequate supervision provided?
- Did the Claimant take a risk?
- Did the Claimant act reasonably in taking a risk?
- How experienced was the employee?
Allegations of Contributory Negligence
Allegations of contributory negligence are quite often challenged by the Claimant’s solicitors on the basis that the accident would not have happened but for the acts or omissions of the Claimant’s employer. In these circumstances, the Claimant’s solicitor will negotiate with the Defendant’s insurer/solicitor to try to reduce the percentage of contributory negligence raised or to remove it altogether. If an agreement can not be reached between the parties the case will have to be decided on by a Judge at Court.
When speaking to your solicitor it is important to give them full details of your accident so that they can deal with any allegations of contributory negligence that may arise later in your case. Often Claimant’s will feel discouraged about making a claim for compensation if they believe they are partially to blame for an accident. It is common in accident at work scenarios that an employee may have taken a risk that has resulted in injury and they may consider themselves to be responsible as a result. However, it may well be that the health and safety procedures implemented by your employer were inadequate and created an unsafe working environment.
If your solicitor successfully argues that contributory negligence does not arise then you will be awarded the full range of general damages which is based on the level of injury you have suffered and no deductions will apply. You are also entitled to claim for special damages, this will include any other financial loss you have incurred as a result of the accident such as loss of earnings, medical expenses and travel expenses.
Personal Injury Solicitors at P.A.Duffy
As discussed above, there are a variety of factors that need to be taken in to account in relation to contributory negligence and it is difficult to consider whether all of these have been complied with in the immediate aftermath of an accident. Our experienced personal injury solicitors can provide you with free advice and guidance if you are unsure whether or not you were at fault for an accident at work.