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Negligence is a breach of legal duty. There is a lawful obligation to take care when it is predicted that the inability to do so will probably be going to inflict any kind of damage or injury. Negligence is


Negligence is a breach of legal duty. There is a lawful obligation to take care when it is predicted that the inability to do so will probably be going to inflict any kind of damage or injury. Negligence is a mode wherein many damages might be brought about by not taking effective measures. Negligence is of two kinds that are contributory negligence and composite negligence. In the event of negligence, the obligation to prove anything is on the offended party. He should demonstrate the obligation of care to the offended party, breach of that obligation, and the offended party endured harm as a result of that carelessness brought about by the respondent. The obligation to survey the harm is completely upon the court. The court needs to choose and decide the remoteness of the harm and the sum for which the offended party is qualified for as harm.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is a situation in which the plaintiff likewise adds to the damage brought about by the defendant. At the point when the plaintiff adds to the harm brought about by carelessness or unjust direction of the defendant then the plaintiff is viewed as guilty for contributory carelessness. A defence can be taken by the defendant by demonstrating that the offended party neglected to take sensible consideration of his security and in this manner added to the hurt caused. Obligation to prove anything related to contributory negligence lies on the plaintiff. The plaintiff needs to demonstrate that the offended party neglected to take reasonable care of his security in light of which the offended party experienced the ultimate harm.

For Instance – If a passerby attempts to go across a street out of nowhere and is hit by a moving vehicle is a legitimate fault for contributory carelessness.

In Davies v. Swan Motor Co. Ltd[1], a worker of Swansea Corporation was riding on the means appended to the offside of the residue truck, in repudiation of the guidelines. There was an impact when an omnibus attempted to surpass the dusty truck. The plaintiff (Davies) who was standing on the steps of the truck was hit and at last, kicked the bucket due to serious wounds. It was held that even though there was carelessness on the part of the driver, there was additionally contributory carelessness concerning the person who departed since he overlooked the warning not to utilize the steps while the truck is moving. Thus, the court decreased the harm by one-fifth.

Rule of Last Opportunity

As per this standard, when both the parties are careless about a situation, the party who had the later chance of staying away from the mishap by taking due care ought to be expected to take responsibility for the misfortune. This standard worked remarkable trouble especially faced by the offended party because for a slight carelessness the offended party would prompt lose his activity against a respondent whose carelessness was the principal reason of reason for the harm to the offended party.  The instances of Davies v. Mann[2] make clear the rule of the last opportunity. In this case, the offended party’s donkey was killed by the respondent who was driving his cart driven by horses. The cart was too quick that it carelessly ran over the donkey which caused its death. Regardless of the carelessness of the offended party, he was qualified to claim harm on the grounds that the litigant had the last chance of staying away from such a situation.

Cases under which Contributory Negligence is not a defence

  1. A circumstance that adds up to contributory negligence on account of a grown-up individual may not be similar to that frame of mind of an adolescent in light of the fact that a kid can’t be anticipated to be as cautious as an adult individual. So an adolescent cannot be faulted for contributory carelessness. Thus, the age of an individual must be considered to learn whether an individual is at fault for contributory negligence or not.
  2. In certain instances of the Motor Vehicle Act, for example, death or permanent disablement, the option to recover compensation by the victim is not impacted by any unjust demonstration or default concerning the person in question. The remuneration for compensation is not decreased because of contributory carelessness with respect to such an individual and a fixed measure of pay of Rs.25, 000 in the event of death and Rs.12, 000 on the occurrence of long-lasting disablement is given to the victim as per The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988[3].

Composite Negligence

Composite negligence is a situation in which the acts of more than two parties result in damage to the third party. There is no negligence on the part of the aggrieved party but because of the negligent act of two or more persons, the plaintiff sustains an injury. The persons responsible for causing such damage are known as “Composite Tortfeasors.”

For example– if an accident is caused between a truck driver and a two-wheeler driver and which results in the death of the pillion rider on the two-wheeler then both the truck driver and the two-wheeler driver should be held equally liable for composite negligence.

Liability in case of Composite Negligence

The obligation of the composite tortfeasor is joint and several. Joint and several liabilities imply that when at least two people are obligated regarding a similar risk. In The State of Punjab v. Phool Kumari[4], the single-seat of Punjab and Haryana High court held that there could be allotment of risk between different composite tortfeasors, yet this choice has disagreed in numerous resulting cases thereof. The High courts of Madhya Pradesh[5], Gujarat[6], Rajasthan[7], Karnataka[8], and numerous different states have communicated for non-appointment of harms between different composite tortfeasors, with discretion to the offended party to implement the entire case on a specific tortfeasor.

In Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation v. Krishnan[9], two traveller buses brushed each other and it caused extreme wounds to two travellers in one of the transports. The left hands of both the travellers were cut off underneath the shoulder joint. It was held that this case is of composite carelessness and subsequently both the drivers were held liable mutually and severally to pay to the two harmed travellers.


It tends to be presumed that contributory negligence is the protection accessible to the respondent which confines or prevents the offended party to get the compensatory benefit. On account of contributory carelessness obligation to prove any claims lies over the respondent. There are some circumstances in which the protection of contributory carelessness doesn’t make a difference mentioned above. In composite negligence, at least two people bring about a similar harm. Many instances of composite carelessness have been concluded in the High courts and Supreme courts of India which set down different new commitments in the field of law.

Author(s) Name: Vanshika Srivastav (The ICFAI University, Dehradun)


[1] Davies v. Swan Motor Co. Ltd., (1949) 2 KB 291

[2] Davies v. Mann, (1882) 152 ER 588

[3] The Motor Vehicle  Act, 1988, § 140(2), No. 59, Acts of Parliament, 1988( India)

[4] The State of Punjab v. Phool Kumari, AIR 1963 P H 125

[5] Manjula Devi v. Manjusri, (1968)  A.C.J. 1

[6] Amthiben v. S.G O.N.G.C, (1976) A.C.J. 72

[7] National Ins. Co. v. Kastoori Devi, (1988) ACC 258

[8] Karnataka S.R.T. Corporation v. Krishnan, AIR 1987 Kant. 11

[9] Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation v. Krishnan, AIR 1981 Kant. 11