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Liability in Road Traffic Accidents

In road traffic accidents in order to recover compensation there needs to be an establishment of fault. It is usually the case that one of the parties will have lapsed in concentration or failed to follow the Highway Code. But you might be interested to know exactly what the standard of care owed by a road user is so we’ll look to give you some idea here.

Each user is held to the standard of taking such care as is reasonable to ensure that he does not injure his neighbour.

In law this is based upon the case of Nettleship v Weston which is that of the ordinary, skilful, average motorist. However, it is rarely as simple as that. The case of Sam v Atkins demonstrates that there is more to finding a verdict of negligence than simple fault. It requires that one of the parties breached the duty of care that they owed to the other person involved in the accident and that the breach caused the accident.

So what are the main errors that people make that result in accidents occurring in road traffic accidents? In most cases it boils down to one of the following two reasons:

· Failure to keep a proper lookout; and/or

· Driving too fast

When you think about it most of the other possible causes of accidents feed of these two. For example, turning out of a side road when it isn’t safe to do so is a result of a failure to keep a proper lookout; and failing to brake in time is a collective of both of the reasons. Therefore, in determining who is at fault for an accident we look at the above two principles as the primary reasons in determining liability.


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