Car Accident Claim: How To Show A Driver Is Legally Responsible For Your Road Traffic Accident Injury Compensation
This article uses a car accident claim as an example to reveal how your solicitor determines who is responsible in the eyes of the law for your road traffic accident; why this process is largely the same for all motor vehicles; who is responsible when your RTA involves someone driving as part of a job and what happens to your compensation claim if you caused the accident yourself.
Is the process to show a driver legally responsible for a car accident clam the same as showing legal fault for all road traffic accidents?
“Yes” – as long as the accident involves at least one motor vehicle the process to show legal responsibility for a car accident claim is the same for all vehicle types. An example of a car accident is used on this page – as this is the most common type of RTA in the UK.
How do you show a driver is responsible for your car accident claim?
Before you can make a UK car accident claim for compensation you must show that a driver is legally at fault. The steps to follow, which are the same for all vehicle types, are:
- 1. A driving error must have occurred
You can only make a car accident claim against a driver in the UK if that driver has made some form of driving error. In law this error is called “negligence”.
- 2. Consider the road safety rules in the Highway Code
All drivers are familiar with the Highway Code which describes the road safety rules in the UK. If a driver has broken these rules you will know that he has made a driving error or been “negligent” in the eyes of the law.
- 3. Use your common sense to decide whether a driving error could cause you or some other person to be injured
The legal name for this is “foreseeability”. In a car accident claim it is obvious and so “foreseeable” that somebody controlling a heavy vehicle could injure another person by making a driving error. This really is just common sense.
4. The driving error must have caused your personal injury
The legal term for this is “causation”. You will need to show either from your medical notes or a doctor’s report that any injuries you are suffering from were actually caused directly by the traffic accident and did not already exist before the accident. These don’t have to just be physical injuries, such as whiplash, they can include psychiatric injuries, such as post traumatic stress disorder.
If the other driver is convicted of a driving offence as a result of your accident this will often be enough evidence to show that he was also “negligent”.
Example of how to show a driver is legally responsible for your car accident claim
Imagine you are driving your car along a road when you have to apply your brakes suddenly to avoid a child. A few moments later the vehicle travelling behind you collides with the back of your car causing you to suffer a whiplash injury to your neck. The process to show the other driver is legally responsible for your collision and potential car accident claim is:
1. A driving error must have occurred
Your car has been hit by another, so it is obvious that a driving error has occurred otherwise this could not have happened.
2. Consider the road safety rules in the Highway Code
The Highway Code tells drivers to travel no closer than the safe stopping distance from the vehicle in front. The driver behind was not travelling at this safe distance as he did not have time to avoid hitting your car. He has broken the safety rules of the Highway Code.
3. Use your common sense to decide whether a driver travelling too close behind your vehicle could cause you or some other person to be injured
It is obvious that the driver could hit your car by not keeping a safe distance behind it and it is equally obvious that, if he hits your car, the force of the collision could cause you to be injured.
4. The driving error must have caused your personal injury
Your GP notes would show that prior to the car accident you had never suffered from any neck pain or injury, but as a result of the collision you were treated for a whiplash neck injury.
If you are involved in an usual accident it is a good idea to remind yourself of the rules of the Highway Code.
Who is responsible if the driver at fault was an employee driving as part of his job?
Sometimes a driver who caused your road accident will be an employee driving as part of his job.
For example, if a bus collides with your car – the driver will normally be an employee of a bus company driving as part of his job. His employer will not only own the bus, but be responsible for its motor insurance and often be responsible for driver training.
If the bus driver is responsible for your collision – his employer will equally be considered to be responsible for your car accident claim.
Can you make a car accident claim if you were at fault?
“No” – you cannot make a car accident claim if you were at fault, but you may still be able to claim compensation from your own insurer for your vehicle damage if you had a comprehensive motor insurance policy.
For you to have a personal injury compensation claim in the United Kingdom someone other than yourself must have been at fault.
Remember – if you have comprehensive motor vehicle insurance, even if the accident was your fault, your insurance company will pay for the repair to your car.
Car Accident Claim Summary
You have seen the simple process to follow to show when a driver is legally responsible to meet your UK car accident claim for compensation, how the process is the same for all accidents involving an automobile, who is responsible when the driver at fault was an employee driving as part of his job and what happens to your compensation claim in the unfortunate circumstances that you caused your own accident.
We recommend you see our motor vehicle accident article – to discover how to make a “car accident claim” for compensation.
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