Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ - Personal Injury Law
One or more 'frequently asked questions' about Personal Injury Law, with some possible answers.
- How does this no win no fee buisness work?
In former times, you had to be quite rich or very poor to pursue a claim. It was costly, or you might get Legal Aid. Things have changed. We now run a system called 'No Win No Fee'. In essence we look at your case. If we are confident that we can win it, we take on the risk of losing and pursue it for you. If we fail, we do not send you a bill. We take out insurance to cover any exposure you might have to the other side's costs. If you lose it costs you nothing. If you win, we recover your damages, and the other side pays your costs. Because of the risk we have taken on, they pay also an uplift, an extra proportion of the costs.
Please note that where you claim benefits, the sum you receive may still be subject to deductions in favour of the DSS.
- Should they have erected a sign?
There are circumstances in which an accident may happen, and the driver feels that if the highway authority had properly signposted some particular feature of the road, then he might have avoided an accident. He asks whether, there now having been an accident, he can sue the authority.
This question was answered in part the case of Larner v Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, reported in The Times on Tuesday February 6 2001. The Court referred to the statutory duty to promote road safety, as set out in section 39 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. It pointed out however that whilst that section did create a mandatory duty to promote the road safety, it nevertheless left a substantial discretion in the authority as to how to implement that duty in any particular context. The court pointed out that in recent decisions, it had become clear that the courts would be reluctant to extend the responsibilities of local highway authorities, and accordingly, the authority could not be held to be responsible in this situation.
The claimant tried an alternative. He asserted that in addition to the statutory duty, the highway authority had a duty at common law to promote road safety. The Court accepted that this might be possible but suggested that before a local authority to be found responsible for signage on the road, it would have had to have behaved in a wholly irresponsible manner.
The case leaves one or two issues open. One example might be where the local authority does set up a sign, but then the sign is damaged in some way. If the local authority knows that the sign is damaged, but fails to repair it, might it be left responsible in damages? In this circumstance, they have clearly decided that such a sign is needed. Their may not have duty to replace the sign within a day or so of its being damaged, but they might be liable if they failed to act within a reasonable time.
It must always be acknowledged, however, that almost every such case will involve also the suggestion that the driver of the motor vehicle himself has a duty to drive within safe limits for the road so far as he can see it. The first person he should look to to protect himself is himself. Any such action, even if successful, would be bound to the subject to a substantial discount for contributory negligence.
- Is there always blame?
In life we suffer many injuries in one way or another. Is somebody else always to blame? We need only ask the question simply to see the answer in the negative, but the question and answer, in law, should be put rather more subtly. Damages claims are based upon certain extensive, but recognised, and now fairly well described, limits. The question is not whether anybody else is to blame, but rather whether another person has committed a wrong recognised at law. With such a wrong, a claim may be made. Without such a wrong, no claim lies. This applies whether or not you, I or anyone else thinks or feels that somebody else is to blame.