What is contributory negligence?

Team Digit, 08 May 2018

What is meant by Contributory Negligence in Insurance?

Contributory negligence is when a person gets injured or affected, partly due to his/her own negligence and the injured party is barred from recovering any damages (money) from another party who was claimed to have caused the accident.
Picture this. It’s Friday night, you’re back late from an office-party. While unlocking the door, you slip in your mobile into the back pocket of your jeans. Tired, you throw it into the washing machine – with the phone. The next day you realise that with your jeans, even the phone went for a quick spin and now, it’s not working. It’s what we refer to as ‘contributory negligence’, which is, being negligent about your possession, which causes damage to it. In such an instance, your claim for mobile insurance will be denied. Mobile Insurance Claim denied? Could be ‘contributory negligence’.

Some instances of ‘contributory negligence’ are:

  • Forgetting your phone in a cab while multitasking. That’s more like letting your phone go on a ride for a lifetime, and not really a case of theft.
  • Leaving your phone unattended in the company of unfamiliar people in a nightclub and losing it. While it may be a loss, it can’t be considered accidental in any way.
  • Throwing the phone in a rage leading to damage. It’s a breakdown for sure, but not quite mechanical, as we know it.
  • Experimenting with your phone by putting it through conditions prohibited by the manufacturer. Like microwaving it too.
What is the difference between contributory and comparative negligence?
The main difference between comparative and contributory negligence is that comparative negligence tries to compensate the injured party at least for some part of his or her injuries, while contributory negligence is a total bar against any damages towards the victim.

Take care of your phone, so it can take care of you.

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You own an expensive necklace that you normally keep safely locked in a cupboard. One day, after wearing the necklace, you forget to lock it up. You leave it on the side table instead.

Your 3-year-old son finds it and starts playing with it. He takes it outside in the garden and leaves it there. Your dog finds the necklace in the garden and buries it somewhere. You never find it again!

Your necklace is lost now – and neither your child, nor your dog is to blame. It’s lost because you forgot to lock it in your cupboard. One moment of forgetfulness, cost you your precious asset!

That’s contributory negligence – and don’t worry, it happens to the best of us!. 

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