Throughout the many guides and articles on this site, we explain how you could be eligible to claim compensation if you’re injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault. However, our personal injury solicitors are often asked if you can claim if the blame is uncertain. For example, what happens if two cars reverse into each other or if you were injured in a car accident whilst you weren’t wearing a seatbelt? In this guide, we’ll look at what you can do if you’re uncertain about who was to blame for an accident and if you could still go on to claim compensation.
Having a fresh pair of eyes review your claim can be a really useful way of determining who was to blame. That’s why we offer a free initial consultation where you’ll receive free advice from a specialist advisor. If they believe you do in fact have a strong case, you could be represented by one of our personal injury solicitors on a No Win No Fee basis. That means that no matter what happens, you’d only pay legal fees if you are awarded compensation.
If you’re uncertain about who’s to blame for your accident, call us on 0800 6524 881 to discuss your options. If you’d rather find out more before calling, please read on.
What Are The Criteria For Personal Injury Claims?
Before we look at what to do if it’s not clear who’s to blame for your accident, let’s review the criteria our personal injury solicitors use to assess a claim. Before taking on a claim, they will always check whether:
- Legally, you were owed a duty of care by the defendant; and
- The defendant’s negligent actions (or lack thereof) caused an accident; and
- You sustained an injury during the accident.
As you can see, the key criteria listed above is the fact that the defendant must’ve been negligent if you are to claim compensation against them. This is where some may begin to have doubts and don’t proceed any further.
Examples Of Where Blame Might Be Uncertain In A Personal Injury Claim
In this section, we’ve listed some scenarios where liability for an accident and any subsequent personal injuries may not be clear. They include:
- If you were hit by a car from behind, did your sudden braking cause the accident or was the driver behind to blame for driving too close to you?
- If you are claiming for mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos at work, how can you be sure the exposure didn’t happen elsewhere?
- Where you slipped in a shopping centre because of a leak, should the claim be made against the individual retailer or the owner of the shopping centre?
These are cases where it might be unclear who was to blame for the accident but what if both parties were to blame in some way? This is in fact known as contributory negligence.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
Essentially, contributory negligence means that if the claimant was partially at fault for the accident that led to their injury, the amount of compensation they’d receive may be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault.
Examples might include where:
- You were injured in a car accident caused by another driver but you weren’t wearing a seatbelt.
- If two cars collided in a car park accident after reversing out from different parking spaces.
- Where you tripped on a pothole but at the time of the accident you were reading messages on your phone rather than looking where you were going.
Claiming compensation is still possible in cases of contributory negligence but you’ll need to agree on what percentage of the blame for your injury lies with you. If the claim proceeds, any compensation will then be reduced accordingly.
Evidence To Help Determine Who Is At Fault In A Personal Injury Claim
If you start a personal injury claim, it will usually be handled by the defendant’s insurers. As you might expect, until you prove otherwise, they will generally say that their client is not to blame for your injuries. Therefore, you’ll need as much evidence to the contrary as possible. This can include:
- Accident report forms. It’s important to report your accident where possible. You can use the accident report form to help prove the location and date that the accident occurred.
- CCTV footage. A good way of establishing blame in a personal injury claim is to provide security camera or dashcam footage. You’ll need to act quite quickly when requesting footage as data is often deleted quickly.
- Medical records. To prove how seriously you were injured (which is likely to be contested), your solicitor will obtain copies of any relevant medical records from your GP or the hospital that treated you.
- Witness statements. Another good way of proving who caused your accident is for your solicitor to ask anybody who saw the incident for a statement.
- Accident scene photographs. Where there is an obvious root cause for your accident, it’s a good idea to take pictures on your phone before the cause is replaced, removed or repaired.
- Investigation reports. Sometimes accidents are investigated by the police or the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Copies of these reports can be a useful method of establishing who was to blame for the incident.
If you decide to claim, your solicitor can help you to obtain evidence where needed. If you have already managed to secure anything from the list above, please have it to hand when you call.
What Does Personal Injury Compensation Cover?
If you do decide to claim after establishing somebody else was to blame for your accident, you could be compensated for any suffering that resulted from the accident and any associated costs.
Generally, if your claim is successful, it may include compensation to cover:
- The physical pain endured at the time of the accident and in the future.
- Lost earnings and also future losses for longer-term injuries.
- Mental trauma including distress, anxiety or depression.
- Loss of amenity – the negative impact on your normal hobbies and activities.
- Medical expenses including physiotherapy and prescription fees.
- Travel costs (for hospital visits for example).
- Care costs if you needed support while you were recovering.
- Adaptations to your vehicle or home to help you deal with any long-term disability.
As you can see, even after you clarify whether somebody else was to blame for your personal injury, there’s still a lot to consider. We believe you’ll improve your chances of winning a personal injury claim and being fairly compensated if you’re represented by a specialist solicitor.
It’s not possible to say how much compensation you’ll be awarded if you do win your claim as each case is unique. However, our compensation calculator will give you some idea about how much different injuries might be worth.
To help clarify the extent of your suffering, you may need to attend a medical assessment as part of the claims process. This will be with an independent specialist who’ll simply examine your injuries, talk with you about how you’ve suffered and review your medical records. The report from the meeting will be used as a basis for any claim you go on to make.
Personal Injury Claims Time Limits
If you decide to claim for your injuries, you’ll have 3-years to do so. For most personal injury claims, this begins from the date of your accident.
Therefore, even if the blame for your accident is uncertain, it’s best to begin the claims process as quickly as possible. This will make it easier for your solicitor to secure the evidence to try and prove who was to blame and to make sure the extent of your injuries is fully understood.
Speak To A Specialist Today
Hopefully, we’ve answered the question, “Can you claim if blame is uncertain”. Even if you’re still not sure who was to blame for your accident, please call us on 0800 6524 881 and let one of our specialists review your case for you.
There’s no obligation to proceed with a claim but we will provide free advice about your chances no matter what you decide to do next.
Remember, our personal injury solicitors offer a No Win No Fee service for all accepted claims. As a result, you won’t need to pay legal fees if the claim doesn’t work out in your favour.