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Where There's Blame There's a Claim - Isn't There?

on Tuesday, 03 May 2022.

You have all probably seen the adverts - 'If you’ve had an accident that wasn’t your fault, it is your right to claim'. Whilst that statement is not wrong, just because you have a right to claim, it does not mean you have a right to win.

The Bases of a Successful Person Injury Claim

In order to succeed in a personal injury claim and recover compensation, you have to prove it is more likely than not that the accident was someone else`s fault, and that their negligence has caused you injuries and losses. That fault can be proven by way of witness evidence in support and, in some cases, by way of expert evidence.

Ultimately, if a case cannot be settled out of Court, it may end up at trial before a Judge. The Judge has to decide whether sufficient evidence has been presented to prove that one party or the other has been negligent - or 'at fault'. So it is possible a Judge could decide the Defendant was to blame or that the injured party was to blame for their own injuries.

However there is a third possible finding that the accident was simply just that - an accident - and blame may not be apportioned to either party. The TV advertising leads people to believe that someone must be at fault, but even the worst injuries can sometimes just be as a result of an unfortunate accident.

Personal Injury Claim Against Bear Grylls' Company

One case which sets this out clearly is a case involving a well-known TV personality, Bear Grylls. His company was sued as a result of an accident during an event organised by them. The claim was also brought against the designers of the obstacle course involved.

A person was taking part in a Bear Grylls Survival Race at Trent Park in Enfield, North London. Whilst attempting an elevated monkey ring obstacle (the Jungle), she fell to the ground and suffered serious injuries to her right leg and right shoulder. She sought damages on the basis that they had failed to take reasonable care for her safety.

To commence the race, participants climbed up onto a platform which was approximately 2m high. There was a similar platform at the far end of the structure.

The obstacle was positioned on grass, and straw was laid to cushion the fall of anyone who fell. The Defendants had set in place a system where there was a Marshall at the start of the race to make sure participants started off from a sitting position on the platform. They also gave instructions that the straw had to be spread around regularly to make sure there was sufficient cover on the ground.

It was the claimant`s case that she was not told to set off from a sitting position and that she had seen others start from a standing position. She set off from a standing position and landed heavily later complaining of the uneven coverage from the hay.

Was this Claim Successful?

The Claimant failed. The Judge decided that the Marshall had given instructions to only start the rings from a sitting position , that it was sufficient to put hay down, that the hay had been checked regularly and that even if there had been a gap in the hay, that was not the cause of the accident.

The Judge decided that the accident happened when the Claimant fell whilst transferring from the first to the second hoop of the obstacle. Therefore, whether she was sitting or standing was irrelevant as this is not what caused the accident.

The conclusion of the Judge was that activities such as obstacle races carry risk of injury and that no amount of care or attention by the organisers and planners could prevent every injury. He stated it was simply a matter of grave misfortune that the Claimant had a serious accident.

Fault or Accident? How We Can Advise You

The principle of injuries being the consequence of an accident for which no-one is to blame can apply in many other circumstances, not just in sporting or similar events. The opposite can also be true - not all injuries suffered in sporting activities or leisure events are as a result of a pure accident and if these sports and events are not properly organised and planned there can be a foreseeable risk of injury for which someone is to blame.

At Augustines Injury Law we are experts in assessing claims at the outset to advise whether there are reasonable prospects of success. There may be circumstances where we have to tell clients we do not think they have a claim that will win in law, but we will give each case a thorough assessment before doing so. We are not afraid of taking on what appear to be difficult cases on the issue of who is to blame providing we consider there are more than reasonable prospects of success.

If you have had an accident where you believe someone else was to blame, please contact Mandy Yeandle in our Personal Injury team on 07769 279218, or complete the form below.

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