in common-law jurisdictions is defense
to a claim based on negligence, an action in tort
. It applies to cases where plaintiffs
have, through their own negligence, contributed to the harm they suffered. For example, a pedestrian
crosses a road negligently and is hit by a driver who was driving negligently. Since the pedestrian has contributed to the accident, they cannot sue the driver for damages because the accident would not have occurred if it weren't for the pedestrian's own negligence. Another example of contributory negligence is where a plaintiff voluntarily disregards warnings and assumes a certain level of risk, although accepting reasonable risk while attempting to rescue another person is not considered contributory negligence.
Contributory negligence is sometimes regarded as unfair because under the doctrine a victim who is at fault to any degree, including only 1% at fault, may be denied compensation entirely, which is known as pure contributory negligence.:85
In the United States, the pure contributory negligence only applies in Alabama, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia
. Indiana applies pure contributory negligence to malpractice cases.