A legal defense to a tort claim arguing that the plaintiff is partially responsible for the damage done. A contributory negligence defense is often leveraged in fraud and personal injury cases. In some cases, it may persuade a jury to rule in full favor of the defense. In others, the judge may instruct the jury to determine a percentage of fault to be assigned to the plaintiff, which may lessen any judgment awarded.
Such a defense is not always well-received by the court, assuming it is even allowed. Defense attorneys, however, are still allowed to scrutinize plaintiff choices and behaviors during the trial. The jury, regardless of instruction, may weigh perceived culpability during their deliberations.