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Determining Fault: From Whom Do I Claim Compensation?

Compensation for your personal injury depends on whose fault the accident was. After all, if the accident was completely your fault, there’s no reason you should get compensation. But if the accident was someone else’s fault, you should be entitled to at least some amount of compensation (see how compensation is calculated).

Fortunately, determining fault is not at all as complicated as the insurance company and personal injury lawyers will tell you. All it takes is some common sense.

Start by asking yourself these three questions:
1) Who was responsible for making sure such an accident did not happen? This is called, in legal terms, “duty of care”. For example, a store owner has a duty of care to make sure that his or her place of business is safe for the public. A home owner has a duty of care to make sure that nothing falls out of his window to the street below. A driver has a duty of care to drive safely and avoid accidents.

2) Did this person somehow fail in this duty? For example, if a store owner did not put up a “Wet Floor” sign if there was a spill. A home owner placed a flowerpot too close to the edge. A driver was following too closely and couldn’t stop in time to prevent an accident. This is legally called “breach of duty”/

3) Did this cause the accident? If the floor was slippery, but the accident was caused by you tripping over someone’s child, it is not necessarily the store owner’s fault. If the flowerpot fell, but your injury was caused when you slipped on a patch of ice, it is not the home owner’s fault. If a driver was driving recklessly, but you tripped on the pavement outside your home, it is not the driver’s fault.

If you can answer these three questions with a specific person or organization for the first question, and “yes” for the last two, you probably have a reasonable claim for personal injury compensation.

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