A new frontier in the boundary between professional and private life – solicitors’ undertakings
Road traffic accidents are the second largest cause of spinal cord injury in the UK. Many of you reading this blog may be a victim of spinal cord injury or know somebody who has sustained a spinal injury as a result of a road traffic accident.
Kingsley Napley have acted for many clients who have sustained spinal cord injuries as a result of road traffic accidents. Part of our job is to represent the interests of our clients and to help them obtain compensation for the injuries they have sustained. However, more importantly our job is also to ensure that our clients are receiving the treatment and rehabilitation that they need to make as full a recovery as possible to enable them to lead an independent life.
Unfortunately despite the number of road safety measures that have been implemented over the last few years, serious injuries caused by road traffic accidents, including spinal cord injuries, continue to occur. There are a number of ways that somebody may be involved in a road traffic accident:
For a driver of a vehicle to bring a successful claim they need to show that the accident was somebody else’s fault. The driver of a vehicle is ultimately responsible for the safety of themselves and the lives of all the passengers in their vehicle. They also have a responsibility to other road users to drive with reasonable care and skill so as not to cause an accident.
A passenger in the vehicle is not in control of the vehicle and therefore they are not responsible for the safety of the others in the vehicle or on the road. As a result if a passenger is involved in an accident, which is the fault of the driver of the vehicle they are in or the driver of another vehicle, they can pursue a claim against either driver. However, passengers over a certain age will be expected to take personal responsibility for themselves and to adhere to safety requirements, such as wearing a seatbelt and not distracting the driver. If a passenger fails to wear a seatbelt and they are involved in a road traffic accident that was the fault of somebody else, any compensation they receive in respect of their injuries will be subject to a deduction of up to 20% (to reflect their proportion of blame).
As with passengers, pedestrians are innocent bystanders because they are not in control of the vehicle. They can bring a claim for compensation for any injury they have sustained as the result of a road traffic accident provided they can show that the driver of the vehicle was at fault. There may be situations where pedestrians run out in the middle of the road when it is not safe to do so. In these instances, whilst a pedestrian should not have run out into the road, the driver is primarily liable for the injury caused. However, in order to bring a successful claim the pedestrian would need to show that the driver of the vehicle was driving negligently i.e. too fast or that their vehicle was defective (brakes did not work). To succeed in this type of claim you would need to show that had the driver been driving with reasonable care and skill the pedestrian would have suffered a less serious injury or no injury at all.
Unfortunately, we have seen many cases in recent months of cyclists losing their lives or suffering serious injuries as a result of road traffic accidents. The most common reason for this is due to problems with visibility. It is important that cyclists use all the appropriate safety equipment and ensure that they are wearing a helmet to protect themselves at all times.
There are situations that arise in which the driver of the vehicle who caused the accident was not insured. Despite this, people who have suffered injuries as a result of the accident can still recover compensation. It is possible that the person insured on the vehicle does have a policy of insurance that provides coverage for uninsured drivers. For example, Tom is the owner of a vehicle and he has taken out insurance, which covers him in the event he is involved in an accident. Tom’s friend, Mark asks to borrow the vehicle but is not insured to drive it. Mark drives the vehicle without insurance and causes an accident in which Lucy suffers a serious injury. Although Mark is not insured, Tom’s insurer under road traffic legislation is still liable for the accident and for paying compensation in respect of Lucy’s injuries.
A situation may also arise in which the owner of the vehicle and the vehicle itself are not insured. In this instance a claim can be taken against the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) under the uninsured drivers’ agreement providing certain conditions are met. The MIB are a government body that deal with personal injury claims that arise from uninsured and untraced road traffic accidents. Unfortunately, there are also instances in which accidents are caused by drivers of vehicles who fail to stop at the scene of the accident and cannot be identified. In this situation a claim can be brought against the Motor Insurance Bureau, under the untraced driver’s agreement.
If you or anyone you know has been involved in a road traffic accident and suffered a serious injury, such as a spinal cord injury then please contact one of our specialist spinal and back injury lawyers on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us 020 7814 1200.
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