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.
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.
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 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’.
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.
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.
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.
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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