Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?
If you think that you were partly to blame for an accident then you can still claim compensation. We discuss the best way to go about it and what to expect.
When considering a personal injury claim the Courts will seek to establish who is liable (to blame) for the illness or injury.
Establishing liability can be complicated as there can often be blame on the part of both the claimant and the defendant. If it is established that there is blame on both sides, this is referred to as 'contributory negligence'.
Having established that there is contributory negligence, the Court will then seek to apportion blame e.g. 75% of the blame lay with the defendant and 25% with the claimant.
How is compensation calculated if there is contributory negligence?
The compensation awarded to the claimant will be reduced if contributory negligence is established. For example if the Court decides that the claimant was 50% to blame then the claimant will receive 50% of the compensation that would have been awarded in the event that the defendant was 100% to blame.
What if the defendant admitted responsibility at the accident?
In the example of road traffic accidents, insurance companies (often set out in their policy wording) advise drivers not to admit liability. With this in mind many people deny liability immediately at the accident.
Sometimes a defendant will actually admit liability at the accident and subsequently deny liability once a case is started. This is an increasingly common ploy where the defendant accepts liability immediately so that the claimant thinks it is not necessary to gather evidence at the scene of the accident.
Irrespective of whether the defendant admits liability or not, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible as soon after the accident as possible. This is important no matter what type of accident occurred.
Sometimes an injury or illness results from on-going negligence. An example might be an illness contracted from long term exposure to asbestos or other industrial toxins at work. Sometimes employers may claim that the defendant failed to follow established safety procedures. Here it is critical not to accept liability and to gather as much evidence as possible as soon after discovery of the injury or illness as possible.