If you or a loved one have suffered an injury as the result of another person's negligence, it can be a very difficult time for you and your family and you may wish to seek compensation from the people responsible.
To make a successful personal injury claim it is not enough to show that you suffered injury or illness – you have to prove that your injury or illness was caused by someone else.
But proving another's negligence is not always easy. There are several issues that can complicate your case, and it's for these reasons that it will help to meet with an experienced personal injury solicitor at the earliest possible time after your accident. They can inform you of any potential problems you may face and advise you on the best solutions.
Issues that may arise when proving negligence
You might be partly to blame as well
Take the case of a car, going too fast, which knocks over a little boy crossing the road at traffic lights. Clearly the driver of the car caused the accident, and would probably face a claim for personal injury - as well as a police investigation.
But what if there were no traffic lights? What if the little boy ran out into the road right in front of the car? Who is responsible then?
In this situation there is responsibility on both sides, as the accident and injuries were caused by both the driver and the boy. While the boy (or his representative) would still be able to make a compensation claim, he is likely to receive a smaller award of damages, to reflect the fact that he was partly responsible for his injuries. This responsibility is called 'contributory negligence'.
Another example of contributory negligence would be if a construction site worker fails to wear safety equipment as instructed by their employer and is then involved in an accident caused by employer negligence. If the resulting injury to the worker would have been reduced by the wearing of safety equipment, the worker's own negligence of the health and safety rules will need to be taken into account, and any award to the worker is likely to be smaller.
Working out whether there has been contributory negligence, and the degree of that contributory negligence, is one of the more complicated parts of making a claim for compensation.
There might be several people to blame
Sometimes there is no one person who is clearly the cause of an accident or illness. A multiple car pile-up, for example, may be caused by several people making driving errors at the same time. A careful investigation is necessary to work out where the responsibilities actually lie.
In the case of illness caused by breathing fumes from a hazardous substance, both the manufacturer of the substance and the employer who supplied the substance for use to the worker, may be deemed to share responsibility for any resulting illness.
The passage of time
Some injuries are not immediately obvious. Some industrial diseases, such as mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure, take 30 - 40 years to become symptomatic, by which time it can be hard to remember, and prove, where the exposure actually took place. Disputes can often arise when the employer argues that the claimant could have been exposed to many other harmful substances within that timeframe that contributed to their illness.
Take the case of a contractor who suffers from noise induced deafness after many years in the shipyards, working for a number of employers. Because of the length of time involved it can be hard to work out which employer was responsible for the injury and, in some cases, a company may have ceased trading, so the personal injury team handling a claim will have to find out which company had insured the defunct firm, so that damages can be pursued.
Make a claim with the help of Thompsons
As seen above, there are many issues that can complicate a claim for personal injury, but you should never let this put you off seeking justice.
At Thompsons, we have one main goal: to help victims who have suffered unfairly because of another party. We have all the skills and expertise to advise and guide you throughout your claim, while always keeping your best interests at heart.
We are also able to offer a No Win No Fee Solicitors package in many cases, ensuring that you won't have to pay a penny in the event your claim is unsuccessful.