contributory negligence

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contributory negligence

n. a doctrine of common law that if a person was injured in part due to his/her own negligence (his/her negligence "contributed" to the accident), the injured party would not be entitled to collect any damages (money) from another party who supposedly caused the accident. Under this rule, a badly injured person who was only slightly negligent could not win in court against a very negligent defendant. If Joe Tosspot were driving drunk and speeding and Angela Comfort were going 25 m.p.h. but six inches over the center-line, most likely Angela would be precluded from any recovery (receiving any money for injuries or damages) from a car crash. The possible unfair results have led some juries to ignore the rule and, in the past few decades, most states have adopted a comparative negligence test in which the relative percentages of negligence by each person are used to determine damage recovery (how much money would be paid to the injured person.) (See: negligence, comparative negligence)

contributory negligence

lack of care by a plaintiff for his own safety. (In the USA the term comparative negligence is sometimes used.) Before the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945, negligence on the part of the party suing was a complete defence, however insignificant it was in the whole picture. The Act allowed a proportion of the damages to be reduced to reflect the plaintiff's fault. Children can be held to be contributorily negligent.