Contributory negligence

Contributory negligence is the plaintiff’s failure to exercise reasonable care for their safety. A plaintiff is a party who brings a case against another party (the defendant). Contributory negligence can bar recovery or reduce the amount of compensation a plaintiff receives if their actions increased the likelihood that an incident occurred. Often, defendants use contributory negligence as a defence.

Determining fault in an accident is a critical aspect of insurance. An insurance policyholder may file an insurance claim seeking compensation for a loss or event that’s covered under the insurance policy. Insurance companies litigate to ensure that they are only liable for damages caused by their insured clients. As well, defence lawyers of the insurance companies typically attempt to limit responsibility to the smallest extent possible.

Reviewing actions that led to an accident, insurers and the courts determine how to assign fault. The determination of fault will ultimately lead to deciding how much the insurer must pay as a result of the insurance claim. Insurers seek to pay as little as possible for a claim so as not to affect the company’s profitability.

In some cases, the party initiating a claim for damages may be found blameless. For example, if the insured’s property is up to code but damaged by a catastrophic event, the policyholder is likely to receive full compensation up to the coverage limit. In other cases, the individual filing a claim may be found to have contributed to the damages. As an example, a claim for property lost to fire after the insured was informed of faulty wiring but chose not to repair it may be considered negligent. Courts must decide how much damage was caused by the policyholder’s behaviour–which is the essence of contributory negligence–and payment could be reduced or denied.