To succeed in any type of personal injury claim be it a road traffic accident, an accident at work or any other accident it is necessary to prove three basic elements. These are known as liability, causation and quantum.
It is necessary to show that someone else or organisation is responsible for the accident. In English Law liability is established by showing that the other party was negligent or failed to comply with a statutory duty or obligation and as a result of that negligence or breach of duty you had an accident and sustained an injury. A defendant could raise an argument known as contributory negligence where they allege that you were also partly to blame for the accident and that any compensation should be reduced to reflect this.
The second element of a claim that will need to be proved is known as causation. This means that you will need to show that the other persons negligence caused the accident and the injuries and losses that you have sustained. The causation element is often clear in a straight forward case, but can sometimes get quite complex and require careful investigation and consideration. Examples of types of cases and causation arguments that can be raised are:
- claims where there is more than one potential defendant (for example in a multiple car collision; or an accident on a building site where there are a number of different contractors and sub-contractors working at the same time);
- claims where a defendant could seek to argue that even if they were negligent this may not have been the actual cause of the accident and that there is some other reason or explanation for the accident;
- claims where a defendant could argue that not all of the injury or losses claimed were caused by the accident. This type of argument can be raised where there are other potential explanations or causes for the medical condition e.g. in a back injury claim there may have already been a pre-existing problem such as degeneration or arthritis; or in a psychological injury claim PTSD m1ay have a number of different potential causes.
The third element of the claim is known as quantum. This requires evidence to prove the extent of the losses and injury sustained. Quantum is an assessment of the value of the claim. No two injuries are exactly identical, although there are many similarities for particular types of injuries. The value of an injury is assessed by reference to case law and published guidelines. Different injuries have different values. A fractured leg for example will attract a higher award than a fracture to a little finger. The valuation of the injury element of the claim will depend upon the diagnosis of injury and the extent of injury, recovery and prognosis for recovery. Compensation is also claimed for other losses including loss of earnings, damage to property and other expenses.