For the majority of personal injury compensation claims, it is usually easy enough to see who is liable. In cases such as car accidents where one car crashes in to the rear of another stationary vehicle, it is easy to apportion blame and therefore workout who will be the liable party when it comes to making a claim for compensation. In such a circumstance, it is usually a simple process to get a claim for compensation placed with a solicitor.
However, in cases where it is not so cut and dried as to who was at fault for an accident leading to an injury – such as a slip or trip accident where it is not known who owns the land in question, whether the land is owned by more than one party or if the injured client was partly responsible for their own misfortune, it can be harder to know whether or not you would have a viable claim for compensation. One of the key elements of being entitled to compensation is having a liable person, party or organisation to make a claim against. But if liability is in dispute, can you still claim personal injury compensation?
In some cases, a claimant may find that they will have to accept a percentage of the responsibility for an accident. This is called contributory negligence. An example of contributory negligence would be a person who is injured after slipping on a wet floor whilst intoxicated. When asking if you have a valid slipping accident claim, your condition (drink and drugs etc) at the time is relevant. If you were drunk, the 3rd party responsible for the floor where you slipped may admit that it was dangerous and wet with no signs erected and therefore to an element of liability. However, if they are aware that you were drunk at the time (your medical records will show this – and you should always be honest!) the 3rd party are likely to state that they are of the view that the person would not have fallen if they were not drunk. In such a case, the claimant may have to accept that they are 25% or 50% responsible for the accident and as such, for every £1000 of their final settlement value, accept the relevant reduction (%) in accordance with their contribution to their own accident.
There are also cases where a 3rd party defence solicitor will refute any liability whatsoever. In these cases, your Direct 2 Compensation specialist personal injury solicitor will advise you as to whether or not they feel you have any realistic prospect of succeeding if your claim were to go all the way to court. If neither side can agree on liability – i.e, your solicitor feels that the 3rd party are liable and the 3rd party deny it, the only place for the claim to be decided is by a judge, in court. Neither side would wish to go to court if they didn’t feel that they were likely to win. Going to court is unusual and unlikely in MOST personal injury claims, but you should always be aware that personal injury and the courts is always a possibility with any claim. If your solicitor is of the view that the defence raised by the 3rd party is strong and that a court is likely to uphold the defence, your claim will be closed. Whilst this would be disappointing, you should bear in mind that you will not have to pay any costs for your claim as it will have been managed on a 100% No Win No Fee basis.
In all claims for personal injury compensation, any claimant must be able to demonstrate that there is a 3rd party for a claim to be made to and that the 3rd party is at least partly responsible for the incident that lead to the injuries forming the basis of the claim. Where an injured person is obviously 100% at fault for their injuries, there will be no basis to pursue a claim for personal injury compensation.