Smith v Finch (2009): defence of contributory negligence.

Areas of applicable law: Tort law – contributory negligence.

Main arguments in this case: Who is responsible in a case of negligence?

The facts of the case: The claimant was a cyclist who sustained serious head injuries when he was hit by the defendant, the motorcyclist, who was driving over the speed limit. The cyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.

Though there is no legal requirement that compels a cyclist to wear a helmet, the defendant argued that the cyclist should have been wearing a helmet which would have protected him from the injuries he received and therefore the cyclist was contributorily negligent. However the court did not favour this argument as the injuries received by the claimant would not have been protected by a helmet at the speed that the accident took place or the type of head injuries that the claimant received. The accident would have taken place regardless of wearing a helmet or not. The court further said that contributory negligence is only a defence where it has caused, helped or made the situation worse.

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