If you believe all that you read in the press or see on TV you will probably be convinced that just because you are injured in an accident you can sue, and that the courts are dishing out compensation as a matter of routine. Well, let me put you right because this is important: There is no legal right to compensation for injuries sustained in an accident. That statement may surprise you, but it's true!
An accident is "an event that is without apparent cause” (check the definition in the Concise Oxford Dictionary if you doubt me). In other words, an accident is an incident for which no one is to blame. And that, despite what the media would have you believe, simply will not do if you wish to claim compensation.
So when can you claim? In order to receive compensation your injuries must have been caused by an incident for which somebody else is to blame. In lawyer speak this means that your injuries have been caused by somebody else's "negligence” (which basically means doing something which he/she can reasonably foresee will injure someone else who is likely to be affected by his/her actions, or lack of action). But forget lawyer speak and remember this: the injuries must have been caused by someone else's fault! And you have to prove it and that can be very hard to do! No court will award you compensation if you cannot prove this. The burden of proof is on you, as a claimant. The defendant does not have to prove anything. You have it all to do.
If you have been injured - take advice from a local, specialist solicitor who will tell you whether you can prove negligence and therefore have a right to compensation.
Chris Macwilliam is an experienced personal injury specialist and is the partner who heads the firm's personal injury department. He is a member of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel and holds Senior Litigator status with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).