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Contributory Negligence in Torts


Contributory negligence refers to the actions of an injured person that may have caused or contributed to their own injury. In legal terms, it acknowledges that the injured person shares some responsibility for the harm suffered. 

Concept of Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence recognises that an injured person’s own actions or lack of care may have played a role in causing their injury. It acknowledges that individuals have a duty to exercise reasonable care for their own safety and well-being. When a person fails to meet this duty and contributes to their own harm, the concept of contributory negligence comes into play.

Impact on Damages

In cases of contributory negligence, the amount of damages awarded to the injured person may be reduced to the extent that they contributed to their own injury. 

The court may determine that A’s contributory negligence was a significant factor, leading to a reduction in the damages awarded. 

In some situations, it may even prevent the injured person from recovering any damages at all. 

The rationale behind this is that if the injured person’s own actions were a significant factor in causing the harm, it would be unjust to hold the other party solely responsible for the full extent of the damages.


Let’s consider an example to better understand how contributory negligence works:

Scenario: A pedestrian, A, is crossing the street when they are hit by a speeding bike. However, it is discovered that A had jumped into the street without looking for oncoming vehicles.

Contributory Negligence Application

In this case, A’s carelessness in crossing the street without taking proper precautions is considered contributory negligence. While the bike rider may still be held responsible for their part in the accident, A’s contribution to their own injury is taken into consideration.


Contributory negligence acknowledges that an injured person may have contributed to their own harm through their own actions or lack of care. It affects the amount of damages awarded by reducing them to the extent that the injured person shares responsibility for their injury. 

Note: Access complete CLAT Legal Reasoning notes here.

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