Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Proving Negligence

Getting To The Truth In A Negligence Claim

How do I make a claim?

Accidents happen every day to people from all walks of life. Many people think that accidents only happen to others and take it for granted that people will be as careful as they are. Unfortunately people can behave negligently without realising it and without intention. This can cause accidents and injuries. It is clear from the number of road traffic accidents and workplace injuries that the majority of accidents are somebody’s fault. Around two thirds can be attributed to negligence, be it a car crash or a slip or trip in a public place.

So what is negligence?

Negligence is defined in law as: ‘The failure to exercise the care that an ordinary prudent person would exercise: either doing that which a prudent person would not do, or failing to do that which a prudent person would do.’

One example of negligence is where an employee is subjected to hazardous working conditions, such as tripping over a box that has been left in a walkway, or slipping over a spillage which has not been cleaned up. In these cases the employer would be negligent if it can be proven that they breached their duty of care.

Duty of care is defined as a “duty to do everything reasonably practicable to protect others from harm”. If an employer has failed in this duty, then they are liable to compensate the injured employee. For the examples above, it would be necessary for the injured employee to prove that the employer (or person responsible in the workplace) knew about the hazard and failed to prevent the accident, or failed to take reasonable steps to warn employees of the danger.

Types of personal injury claim

There are various types of personal injury claim which can be made, and the three main ones are:

  • Road traffic accidents: usually straightforward cases which include damage to property as well as personal injury.
  • Employer liability claims: where a Claimant has been injured during the course of their employment. This can include repetitive strain injury or slip/trip, as well as asbestos-related illness (sometimes referred to as “industrial illness”).
  • Public liability claims: arising out of public use of products or premises, for example when a person trips over a loose paving slab in the street.

How do you prove negligence?

Every case has at least two sides, however it is the responsibility of the person pursuing the claim (the Claimant) to prove his case and persuade the Court that the person who they feel is to blame for the accident (the Defendant) was in breach of a statutory or common law duty owed to him/her. There are several types of evidence that would support a Claimant’s case and help to prove negligence. They include the following:

  • Witness statements
  • Medical records
  • Expert evidence
  • Employment records and occupational health file
  • Photographic and video evidence
  • Reports from public servants (such as police officers)

These pieces of evidence can apply to any of the personal injury case types outlined above.

It also needs to be proven that the Defendant owed the Claimant a duty of care, that the Defendant is in breach of that duty, and that the breach has caused losses (i.e. damage to property, or a personal injury) which were reasonably foreseeable. It is important to remember however that an employer’s duty of care is not conclusive. A duty of reasonable care is expected from employers. Individuals should take a certain amount of care towards their own personal wellbeing and safety and realise that accidents can still happen, even in the most careful of work environments.

For free legal advice regarding a personal injury claim, contact one of our specialist team of advisors on 0800 316 8892.