All accident situations are unique but in cases where your actions may have contributed to the car accident you’ve been involved with, the question of whether you’re still able to make a claim for compensation for injuries you may have suffered can be a complicated one.
Expert legal advice from experienced compensation lawyers is always the best course of action in these situations because working out who is responsible for causing a motor accident is sometimes difficult.
Where you’ve been injured in a car accident but may have helped cause the incident, this is known as contributory negligence. In such cases, a court can apportion responsibility to each party where it finds that both parties to the accident had a role in it occurring. This is generally expressed as a percentage share.
This sort of situation frequently arises in accidents at intersections. The driver who fails to give way may be mostly responsible for the accident, but the driver coming from the right who has right of way may be responsible for the accident to a lesser degree because, for example, they were travelling too fast. Again, these can be complicated issues to work out.
How is negligence established?
To work out whether you have a valid claim for compensation due to damage suffered in a car accident which you may have partly been responsible for, a court assesses the negligence of the parties involved. This involves working out whether you – and the other party – exercised reasonable care in the actions you took, or failed to take, in relation to the harm suffered by the other party.
The risk of the injury suffered must have been “reasonably foreseeable”, meaning it was not a far-fetched or fanciful possibility that injury could have occurred.
It’s sometimes the case that these issues can be dealt with outside of court through dealings between the CTP (compulsory third party) insurers of the parties involved in the accident. A negotiated settlement of a compensation amount that takes into account the contributory negligence of the injured party (the one seeking compensation) may be possible. Where an agreement can’t be worked out, the court will need to decide how responsibility for the accident is split.
Drink driving and other illegal acts
Queensland’s Civil Liability Act 2003 sets out limitations for claiming compensation for accidents where alcohol is a factor.
If drinking alcohol contributed to your injuries occurring, or where you relied on the care or skill of another person who was intoxicated (such as accepting a lift from a driver who is under the influence of alcohol), mandatory reductions of 25% or more apply to the damages you are entitled to. If you are aware, or should be aware, that a driver is intoxicated, the court can discount compensation to you by 50% or more by finding that you were contributorily negligent to your injury.
The only exceptions are where it’s found that intoxication did not cause a person to breach their duty of care, or where an injured person could not reasonably avoid relying on an intoxicated person’s care and skill.
If a driver is found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.15% or greater, or is under the influence of alcohol or a drug which renders them incapable of exercising effective control of their vehicle, a reduction of 50% in the amount of damages or greater applies.
Similarly, situations where a driver is driving a vehicle above the speed limit or fails to stop at a red light or obey another traffic direction, is likely to be found contributorily negligent to any injury they suffered in a subsequent accident.
Damages can be reduced by up to 100% (i.e. no damages are paid) in situations where a court finds a person claiming compensation was wholly responsible for the accident.
The need for legal advice
The cause of motor accidents is often a difficult, complicated thing to work out. One or more parties to the accident may have helped cause the accident, to a greater or lesser degree.
At Lifestyle Injury Lawyers, we understand that claiming compensation can be complex, lengthy and emotionally taxing, particularly in matters where you know, or are uncertain about, whether you share some blame for the accident that caused your injury. By letting us deal with your claim, you will work with the same experienced, expert compensation lawyer from start to finish.