Real Life Example of Contributory Negligence

by Ben
(Richmond, VA)

I run a small business that makes deliveries to local farms. A few years ago, one of my drivers was taking a delivery out using a company pickup truck and trailer. Unfortunately, he had neglected to plug in the cord that used the pickup's electrical system to power the trailer lights, so they were non-functional.

The farm entrance was off a two-lane country road, and my driver stopped for a moment to let oncoming traffic pass before he turned left into the driveway. A van came up behind him in a hurry, and apparently decided they didn't want to wait for him to turn. Instead, they cut around him, attempting to pass him on the left. He made his turn at the same time, and the van smacked into the side of the pickup.

There were no injuries, thankfully, but there was substantial damage to both the truck and the van. Despite the fact that my driver had right of way to make the turn, the damage to my truck was not covered. The insurance company claimed contributory negligence because my driver had not plugged in the cord to the trailer lights, so that the turn signal was not clearly visible. They claimed there was no reason for their driver to think that my guy was doing anything but just sitting still in the roadway.

Contributory negligence in action! Not good for me, unfortunately, but that's how it works...

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