Contributory Negligence Case Study

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DEFENSE OF CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE Sometimes the unexpected results may not be only due to negligence of the doctor but also due to negligence of patients. In such circumstances the severity of doctor's negligence is minimized. He can thus claim the defense of contributory negligence. CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE MEANING Contributory negligence is negligence in not avoiding the consequence arising from the defendant's negligence, when plaintiff has means and opportunity to do so. Lord Halsbury as stated that the rule of contributory negligence is based on the maxim in pari delicto potior est conditio defendantis which means where both parties are equally to blame neither can hold the other liable. In English Law, the rule of contributory negligence…show more content…
However a situation may arise that besides following the instructions and advise of the doctor, the patient may be negligent and at the same time the doctor may also be negligent in administering the treatment. In such cases both are negligent and compensation is apportioned according to the degree of their fault. For example in Devendar Singh v Vivek Pal the doctor was held liable for negligence in eye surgery. However, the appellant patient was also negligent as there was prolonged use of a medicine much against medical advice. The patient also failed to turn up for follow up. The doctor was held liable only to a limited compensation of Rs. 50,000/- as the appellant -patient was guilty of contributory negligence. Similalry in Manager Martin Medical Centre v E V Thomas the doctor was held liable for negligence but the compensation payable was reduced from Rs 24,717 to Rs 10,000 on account of patient's negligence. The doctor had treated an accident injury in the knee. For lack of facilities in the hospital he did advice the patient to move to a better hospital, but only after ten days. The patient was held contributing to the negligence by not following to the advice and shifting to a better hospital. Also in Ram Avatar Sharma v. Dr. Nabin K. Pattanaik a compensation of Rs 25,000 was awarded due to the contributory negligence on part of the patient. In this…show more content…
It's a herculean task for the judges to decide such cases for the simple reason that they are not trained in medical sciences. Therefore they decide with the help of various precedents, expert's decisions and most importantly on the principles of Justice, Equity and Good Conscience which is enshrined in our legal system. Contributory negligence as we have seen is basically an exception to medical negligence which has the effect of reducing the extent of liability of the doctor or surgeon. The success of the treatment very often depends on the co-operation of patient and proper rendering of services by persons involved in providing health services. The neglect of duty by the doctor will hold him liable for negligence and if the patient suffers damage then he is ought to be compensated. However if the patient is also negligent in his part then this may help the doctor to exclude or reduce his liability. Unlike English Law which has enacted Law Reforms (Contributory Negligence) Act in 1945, our country has no central legislation but the rule of apportionment of liability in case of contributory negligence is followed where both the parties are

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