Although you think you caused an accident, it may not be your fault!

It’s a common story: a driver swerves to avoid an obstacle and is involved in an accident causing injury to their passengers or damage and injury to another vehicle and its passengers.  Wosskow Brown Solicitors say that although the driver seems to be ‘at fault’, they may not be to blame.

The issue is crucial because insurance pay-outs depend on this type of scenario – known as ‘the agony of the moment’ – and on proving that the accident was due to the negligence of the driver.  This addresses the fact the driver was forced to make a split-second decision which is not necessarily the one they would make had there been more time.  

A real-life example is the bus driver who swerved to avoid bricks being thrown by a group of youths.  He hit a parked BMW which was so badly damaged that it had to be written off.  One might expect the bus driver to be at fault, but his insurers argued successfully that he acted in the ‘agony of the moment’ and so was not negligent. This meant the BMW owner could not claim damages.

According to Jeff Knibb, head of personal injury at Wosskow Brown, these cases are rarely clear-cut:

“The injured claimant must prove the defendant was at fault and had failed in their duty of care to other road users.  The key point is that thinking you’re responsible for an accident is not always the same as being legally culpable, if ‘agony of the moment’ applies.”

Jeff Knibb adds:

“There are myriad reasons why you may not be at fault, such as pedestrians stepping into the road, having a seizure, or even being stung by a bee.  This is why the advice of an experienced legal professional is so vital.”

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