contributory negligence

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A person's carelessness for his own safety or interests, which contributes materially to damage suffered by him as a result partly of his own fault and partly of the fault of another person or persons. Thus careless driving, knowingly travelling with a drunken driver, and failure to wear a seat belt are common forms of contributory negligence in highway accidents. The Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945 granted a general power to apportion damages. The effect of contributory negligence is to reduce the claimant's damages by an amount that the court thinks just and equitable. The defence is most common in actions for negligence, but can be pleaded in some other torts, e.g. nuisance, rule in Rylands v Fletcher, breach of statutory duty, or under the Animals Act 1971 (see animals). Contributory negligence may also be a defence to some actions for breach of contract. It is not a defence to conversion or intentional trespass to goods (Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977).

Subjects: Law.

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