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Liability in Personal Injury Claims

What is ‘liability’?

Put simply, liability means ‘responsibility’. If a person or organisation is liable for your accident or injury, it means they’re at fault and you may be able to make a compensation claim.

For example, if you’ve suffered due to medical negligence, then the member of staff who treated you will be held liable for your injuries and suffering. Likewise, if an employer has failed to give the proper training or supervision while you’re using dangerous equipment, they may be liable if you were injured as a result.

Why is liability important in personal injury claims?

To win a personal injury claim, your solicitor will need to prove that the other party is liable for your injuries. If liability is proved, then you’ll then be able to receive compensation for your injury and the expenses it’s caused.

We know it can sometimes be very difficult for you to know who’s at fault for your injury. You can speak to legally trained adviser who will be able to understand whether somebody else is responsible for your injury and can tell you whether you might be able to make a compensation claim.

You can speak to a legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438 or fill in one of the secure forms on this page to arrange a call back.

How is liability proved?

If you decide you’d like to start a claim, your solicitor will gather evidence and build a case to prove your accident was the other party’s fault. All you’ll need to do to support your case is give your solicitor any details of your accident, and you’ll also be booked in for a free medical assessment which can normally be arranged locally to you. Your solicitor will negotiate your compensation on your behalf, so you won’t need to worry about being confused by legal jargon. But it’s likely the other party is liable for your injuries if:

  • They’ve breached their legal duty of care towards you
  • you’ve been harmed as a result, and
  • the harm was ‘reasonably foreseeable’

They may have failed in their duty of care to you by not taking an action that an ordinary, reasonable person would do in the same situation. This means that their action (or failure to take action) has fallen below the standard expected of them.

However, even if the other party did fail in their duty of care to you, they’re only liable if all three of the points above apply to your accident – for them to be held responsible, you need to have been injured and that injury should have also been ‘reasonably foreseeable’.

What is ‘strict liability’?

With ‘strict liability’, the other party is automatically responsible for your injuries, which means liability doesn’t need to be proved. This usually happens in situations which are so defenceless that the other party is automatically responsible.

For example, if you were injured because of a defective product – the manufacturer is ‘strictly liable’ under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

Also, under the Animals Act 1971, a keeper of a dangerous animal would be ‘strictly liable’ for injuries caused by the animal. No fault needs to be proved – only that the keeper kept an animal of a dangerous breed.

Are there any other types of liability?

Because there are so many different types of accident and injury, there are also a number of different types of liability. For example, a local authority or supermarket which hasn’t safely maintained roads or floors could have ‘public liability’ imposed on them. This means they need to have ‘public liability insurance’ to cover the costs of paying compensation if somebody makes a claim against them. Another type of liability is ‘employers liability’, and this applies to employers who have failed to keep their staff safe – for example, if you haven’t been given protective equipment and you’ve been injured as a result. They should have ‘employers’ liability insurance’ which will pay compensation if somebody makes a claim against them.

Other Important Information

*No Win No Fee

  • Although all our cases are handled on a no win no fee basis, other costs could be payable upon solicitors request. These will be fully explained to you before you proceed. Most customers will pay 25% (including VAT) of the compensation they are awarded to their law firm, although this may vary based on individual circumstances. Your solicitor may arrange for insurance to be in place for you to make sure your claim is risk free. Termination fees based on time spent may apply, or in situations such as: lack of cooperation or deliberately misleading our solicitors, or failing to go to any medical or expert examination, or court hearing.
  • *Criminal Injury Claims

  • If you want to make a claim for a criminal injury, you are not required to use the services of a claims management company to pursue the claim. You can submit your claim for free on your own behalf, directly to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (England, Wales, and Scotland) or the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (Northern Ireland).
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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