A recent decision of the Italian Supreme Court (No. 9817 of April 14, 2008) states that in industrial accidents, the contributory negligence of the injured employee can be taken into account in order to reduce the amount of the damages awarded. In adopting this decision, the Italian Supreme Court has applied the general provisions of Article 1227 of the Italian Civil Code, which states that when the contributory negligence of the injured individual arises, the amount of the compensation to be paid “is reduced with respect to the importance of the negligent conduct and of the consequences arising from the same.”

This ruling can provide employers with a helpful defense in claims for damages arising from industrial accidents. Its practical application may in some cases imply a considerable reduction of the amount of compensation due to injured employees. It should be noted, however, that in accordance with the Italian rules of civil procedure, such a reduction can be considered by the court only if, during the trial, the defendant employer has specifically alleged contributory negligence of the injured employee.