A common law tort rule, abolished in most jurisdictions. Under contributory negligence, a plaintiff was totally barred from recovery if they were in any way negligent in causing the accident, even if the negligence of the defendant was much more serious. Most states have abolished contributory negligence in favor of a comparative negligence approach.
Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
A doctrine of common law that if a person's own negligence contributes to causing an accident in which that person is injured, the injured party can't collect any damages (money) from another party who caused the accident. Because this doctrine often ended in unfair results (where a person only slightly negligent was prohibited from recovering damages from a person who was much more so), most states now use a comparative negligence test instead, in which the relative percentages of negligence by each person are used to determine how much the injured person recovers.
Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.
August 19, 2010, 5:13 pm