What is contributory negligence?

Reductions to compensation apply if an injured person’s own actions contributed to the accident, such as failure to keep a proper lookout or driving at excessive speed. Contributory negligence applies in addition to statutory reductions.

For example, all drivers are required to drive defensively. If the at-fault vehicle in an accident failed to stop at a stop sign, but the driver with right of way had enough time to avoid the accident by slowing down or braking, then that injured driver may be found to have also been negligent and contributed to the accident and their injuries.

Each case varies on its facts and the assessment of contribution but the injured driver may have their compensation reduced by 10% or more. If it is proven that the driver had also failed to wear a seatbelt, the 25% fixed statutory reduction will apply – in this example, the driver will have had assessed compensation reduced by at least 35% in total.


For pedestrians, the amount of compensation you receive may be reduced if your actions contributed to the accident, for example by:

  • running onto the road from between parked vehicles
  • not crossing within 20 metres of a pedestrian crossing, or
  • crossing a road while affected by alcohol and/or drugs which contributed to the accident occurring.

Legal advice

Find out more information on seeking legal advice about your obligations as a road user and reductions to your compensation.