What is the difference between an Accident and Negligence?

It is a common misconception that we can claim compensation for any accident which was not our fault.  If we have a car crash, fall over broken paving stones or slip in a puddle near a swimming pool, then we have had an accident.  However, in order to get financial compensation for the pain and injury suffered, we have to prove the accident was caused by someone’s negligence.

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What is an accident?

For the purposes of a personal injury claim, it is important to establish what exactly an accident is.  Any incident which results in you being injured, physically, financially or emotionally is an accident.  Accidents can take place anywhere – in the home, at work or in a car, bus or train. They can even take place at the dentist, GP surgery or hospital.

What is negligence?

A person has a duty of care to other persons – he has to take reasonable care to ensure other people are not injured.  Essentially, a person is negligent if his conduct falls below the standard of what a reasonable person would do to protect another person from foreseeable risks of harm.

For example, if a paving stone is broken during a severe storm and someone falls over the stone a few minutes later, it is not reasonable to expect someone to have fixed it in the interim minutes.  It is an accident, and the person (normally the council) would probably not be negligent.  However, if it stays broken for several weeks, the council has been informed of the broken slab and failed to do anything about it, then it may be found to be negligent.

In another example, if another driver crashes into you because his driving falls below the standard expected of a reasonable driver, then he also has been negligent and may be liable to pay you compensation for your injuries.

Can I claim financial compensation for an accident?

If the accident was not your fault and you can prove it was caused by the negligence of a third party, you may have a claim for compensation.  You will need to prove the third party was negligent, and that a reasonable person would not have foreseen the injury which happened to you.

What if I cannot prove negligence?

If you have had an accident and cannot prove negligence, you should still get legal advice.  Qualified lawyers will be able to obtain evidence surrounding an accident, for example obtain witness statements, medical reports and legal evidence.  Furthermore, even if no obvious negligence can be proved, there may be other legislation which provides further protection for individuals.

How can I prove an accident is caused by negligence?

Call us at Manners Pimblett and our accident specialists will assess whether your accident is the result of negligence and whether you are liable for compensation.

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