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How can I tell who was at fault for an accident?

The basic rule for personal injury is that compensation may be available to you for an accident that wasn’t your fault.

But is it always that easy to determine who is at fault for an accident? As we all know there are two sides to every story and, particularly in an incident involving another party, your recollection of events may conflict with someone else’s.

Or maybe fault is more difficult to pin down. If you slip or trip in an office hallway, is it your duty to be aware of your environment or the building owner’s duty to provide an environment free of hazards?

There are of course legal answers to all the various technicalities this involves – and when it comes to proving your claim, our lawyers are the experts at determining and proving fault. And since we operate on a no-win, no-fee basis, it may be worth consulting our team for advice even if you are unsure.

But what if you just want a simple answer? “Who was at fault for my accident?” Here are a few ways you can make it clearer, so you can make your claim with confidence.

Note: This is not a complete list of all the factors that will go into making a final, legal decision on fault in your claim and should not be taken as legal advice on your circumstances. To get a complete answer on your claim or advice on how to prove fault, please consult our legal professionals.

On the road

Disputes over fault in road traffic accidents are all too common. If an accident occurs between two vehicles, it’s not unusual for one person to take responsibility and apologise  at the scene, only to go back and deny it when it comes to making an insurance claim. Though there’s little you can do about the other person’s account it can still be worth mentioning in your claim and, at the very least, you can consider it a reassurance that you’re doing the right thing by making your claim.

Things to consider when you’re in an accident on the road are:

  • Were any traffic laws broken?
  • Were either of you speeding?
  • Were you under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
  • Were either of you using a mobile phone at the time of the accident?
  • Were there any other distractions causing either of you to take your attention off the road

Remember that all drivers have a responsibility to obey the laws of the road and drive in a safe manner with full awareness of the road. Any action that doesn’t conform to this, or not taking any action that a reasonably careful driver should have taken, can be considered negligence.

Sometimes, if there is no other proof, fault is given based on the positioning of the vehicles – it is more likely that a driver who hits another from behind is assigned the blame (unless the car in front made a sharp emergency stop for no valid reason), or a driver turning across oncoming traffic resulting in an accident.

Of course any witness accounts or camera footage of the accident is going to be extremely useful in helping to prove fault.

There are of course many other factors that may determine fault in a road traffic accident so if you’re unsure it’s best to consult a legal professional who is aware of the various nuances of fault and negligence and can advise you on your claim.

At work

The workplace is where many of us spend a majority of our time and whether you work in an office, a restaurant or an oil rig – every workplace has potential hazards.

Your rights as an employee are to be protected from injury or illness through appropriate safety measures. Your employer has a duty of care towards all their workers and should provide adequate safety measures, personal protective equipment, safety training and warning signs throughout the workplace as well as conducting regular inspection and maintenance of machine and equipment.  They should also ensure that the working environment is in suitable condition for use with adequate lighting, heat, emergency exits and free of contagions, spills or tripping hazards.

If the nature of your job involves anything potentially dangerous – such as operating heavy equipment– it is your employers responsibility to ensure that you are aware of the risks, trained in how to minimise those risks and provided with any specialist protective equipment that will keep you safe from those risks.

If an accident is caused by a failure on part of the employer to exercise their duty of care, then you can claim compensation for your injuries against them. This can include pain and suffering, loss of income, medical or care expenses, travel for medical treatment, loss of amenity and any structural changes you are forced to make to your home or vehicle as a result of injuries caused by the accident at work if they are severe in nature.

The employer may not be held at fault or 100% to blame if the accident was determined to have been caused or contributed to by your own negligence or reckless behaviour that goes against the reasonable workplace safety rules and regulations.

When you make a claim with Accident Claims Lawyers, our legal professionals will take into account all the steps taken by your employer to fulfil their duty of care and determine if and where they have failed to prevent your accident occurring.

Other accidents

As we’ve seen above, fault can be attributed to a person or organisation that fails in its duty of care. In the workplace your employer has a duty of care. In a car the driver has that duty towards their passengers and other road users. But what if your accident occurs elsewhere?

Who has a duty of care and what level of care are they required to fulfil may be much less clear (and depending on circumstances there may not be a duty of care owed by anyone).

Remember that, just as an employer has a duty of care to its employees, businesses have a duty of care towards the general public. This includes anyone on their premises (with permission), using products or services provided by the business or engaging in activities relating to their operation.

For this reason anything from a restaurant to a shopping centre to a landlord to the owner of an office building can be considered to have a duty of care for a range of circumstances relating to their position and operation. So if an accident occurs due to unsuitable or dangerous premises, broken equipment, dangerously faulty goods, negligence of an employee of the business, failure to notify the public of a danger or any other failing to prevent an accident occurring, fault may be assigned to the person or organisation if they are considered to have a duty of care.

What happens if there is shared fault?

In certain circumstances it may be decided that fault is shared between two or more people. This could occur if two parties involved in a collision were deemed to be acting in a dangerous fashion or if a duty of care existed and was unfulfilled, but the accident victim was also acting recklessly.

In this situation the amount that you are able to claim will be split, depending on how much fault you’re considered to have been responsible for. So if, for example, you were held to be 25% responsible for the accident, you would only receive 75% of the compensation awarded.

If you’re in an accident that wasn’t your fault you may be entitled to compensation

There are many ways that fault can be determined and it may not be clear at first where responsibility for the accident lies. The best thing is to get professional legal advice from someone who understands how fault is attributed and what you are able to claim for.

Accident Claims Lawyers has an expert team of legal professionals who deal with personal injury claims every day. We operate on a no-win, no-fee basis so if you are ultimately unable to get compensation for your claim, you won’t pay us anything.

Ensure that you’re getting the full amount that you’re entitled to and that you are supported along the way by a professional claims lawyer who cares about your case. Book an appointment for a free initial with Accident Claims Lawyers today.

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