During a whiplash claim, the defendant party may argue that there is a case of contributory negligence. In this article we take a look at what contributory negligence means and what the implications are for your whiplash claim.
Contributory negligence and whiplash claims
For a whiplash claim to be successful, the claimant pursuing compensation must prove that another individual was responsible for their whiplash injury. For example, if the driver behind you failed to slow down in advance of a red light or junction and their vehicle hits the back of your car, it is likely you will sustain a whiplash injury. But there is nothing you could have done to prevent this; the other driver failed to display due care and attention and is therefore to blame for your damages.
However, there are times when another driver is certainly at fault, and yet you are in part responsible for your injuries. This is known as contributory negligence, because your actions have contributed towards the accident and/or your whiplash.
The most common example of contributory negligence is when the claimant was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the incident. This is of course against the law, and the defendant party will argue that in failing to obey the law, the claimant has exacerbated the severity of their neck injury. Other instances of contributory negligence include if the claimant's break light is broken (the defendant will then argue that he or she was not aware the vehicle in front was slowing down) and if the claimant also failed to display a reasonable level of care and attention while driving.
Seek advice from a solicitor
Even if you are partly to blame for your whiplash injury, you are still able to make a claim. But if you are not sure, the best thing to do is to speak to a legal expert. A solicitor who specialises in whiplash claims will be able to listen to the circumstances of your accident before suggesting whether you can still proceed with legal action.
However, it is worth noting that where this is a case of contributory negligence, the compensation settlement will be less that it would have otherwise been. This is in order to reflect the fact that you are in part to blame for your injuries. It is difficult to say exactly how much a settlement will be reduced by, but generally speaking you can expect a 25% decrease.
If you would like to find out whether you are able to claim compensation for whiplash, you need early advice.
The Whiplash Experts can offer expert advice regarding every stage of the Whiplash Claims process. Making a whiplash compensation claim can be complex.