Understanding Contributory Negligence In Accidents

Lerners LLP


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Imagine riding your bike and not stopping at a stop sign. If a car hits you, you might both be at fault. That's what contributory negligence is about — when more than one person...
Canada Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration
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Imagine riding your bike and not stopping at a stop sign. If a car hits you, you might both be at fault. That's what contributory negligence is about — when more than one person did something wrong that led to an accident.


A long time ago, people decided that if someone was hurt but also did something careless, they might not get as much help or money for their injuries. This idea has been around for a long time and is still used today.


To determine if someone was also careless, we ask, “Would this have happened if they had been more careful?”

We also consider whether it could have been anticipated. It's important to know about contributory negligence because it can change how much help someone gets if they're hurt.

Even if someone was careless and contributed to their own injury, they can still be entitled to some compensation. The law recognizes that accidents often have more than one cause, and it wouldn't be fair to leave someone with no help at all just because they made a mistake.

If a court finds that both the person who got hurt and the person who caused the accident were careless, they will decide how much each person's carelessness contributed to the accident. The court calls this comparative negligence.

For example, suppose the court decides that the injured person was 30% responsible for what happened and the other person was 70% responsible. In that case, the injured person can still get 70% of the compensation for their injuries.


Contributory negligence is how the law tries to share responsibility fairly so that people take care of the part of the accident that was their fault. It's like saying, “We all make mistakes, but we should also all help to fix them.”

This helps ensure that hurt people aren't left with nothing, even if they weren't as careful as they could have been.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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