I may have been partly to blame following a recent Road Traffic Accident – Can I still claim?

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It’s easy as a road traffic victim to question if you may have been partly to blame for a collision.

You may ask yourself

  • did I take a second look for oncoming traffic?
  • was I just over the speed limit?
  • was there anything else I could have done to avoid this from happening?

Sound familiar?

It’s human nature to look back and question if there was anything else you could have done to avoid the accident but, even if there was, it doesn’t rule out you being able to make a claim.

Contributory negligence is a term used to refer to the actions of a person who may also have been at fault during an accident. The law then distributes the blame between the parties who were involved and at fault.

This has the effect of reducing your compensatory award in proportion to the amount of blame that each party bears. For example, if you are 20% to blame you will receive 80% of the total amount of compensation.

Factors to be taken into consideration include weather conditions, visibility and speed. Some cases may not be clear cut, each depending on their own facts.

The recent case of Hernandez v Acar and another [2019] is a wonderful illustration of how the distribution of blame in road traffic accident cases is to be approached. In this case, a motor cyclist, Mr Hernandez, was speeding at the time a motor vehicle pulled out in front of him, rendering him paraplegic. Mr Hernandez was accused of travelling approximately double the safe speed for the conditions, which in turn was considered to have an impact on his braking time.

In light of Mr Hernandez’ speed, the Judge held he was slightly more to blame for the accident however, as a motorcyclist, he was also a vulnerable road user and therefore owed an extra duty of care by the other driver. In light of his vulnerability, and with both parties being almost equally at fault for the accident, the judge took all evidence into account and distributed liability 60/40 in the claimant’s favour.

Mr Hernandez was therefore entitled to 60% of the compensation he would be due, had he not been at fault.

Hernandez serves as a useful reminder in terms of how you may still be protected by the law and entitled to some compensation, even if you are partly to blame or potentially more to blame as the above case demonstrates.

It’s important to discuss the circumstances of any accident in detail with an experienced and accredited lawyer, who will be able to provide you with clear and succinct advice and, most importantly, put your mind at ease.

If you have any queries surrounding the above topic, or any other injury related query, please contact Sarah Barrett, a Solicitor in our Personal Injury team on 01284 732107.


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