In an accident, who is responsible?

4th April 2016

Not all accidents result in a claim. Accidents sometimes happen because of circumstances beyond everybody’s control. Where they do, and nobody is to blame, then there can be no cause of action and no claim brought.

In the vast majority of accidents somebody is to blame. A claim can only arise if those that are responsible for the claim are proven to be at fault. If a gardener is felling trees and the tree falls on him causing him injury, then he has no claim because he is the master of his own misfortune. If the tree falls on somebody who is in close proximity to the gardener, then they may bring a claim if they are proven not to have endangered themselves.

The question of responsibility or liability is not always black and white. If somebody places themselves in jeopardy and they are injured, they can be considered to have contributed to their own injuries. Like a person who stands too close to a tree being felled, a passenger in a car who does not wear a seatbelt and is involved in an accident will be considered to be partly responsible for their injuries.

The relationship between the person that is injured and the person that caused the injury is vital. Only if responsibility is established can you have a claim. This is known as the question of liability. Any person seeking to bring a claim must first of all establish that they are not liable for the injuries that they sustained and the person who they seek to blame is liable.

Where Courts are asked to decide about the question of liability, they look at the relationship between both parties and whether or not anybody else may have been involved in the action that resulted in the injury. This may arise if there was a car accident, but it was found that there was a defective element in the car. Does the manufacturer then become partly responsible or the dealer who sold the car or the garage man who repaired the car?

There is a very heavy onus placed on people seeking to bring any form of injury claim to ensure that they tell the truth and also that they can establish their case. If a case can be made then the next question to consider is what is the extent of any loss sustained by a claimant? Again, there is a responsibility on the claimant to make sure that they do not exaggerate the extent of their losses or injuries.

Caution needs to be taken at all times to make sure that proper information is provided so that any claimant can get their dues, but no more.

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