Accident victims to be held responsible for own injuries?

Industry news roundup: week ended 18 Nov 2013:

There’s a distressing trend going around when it comes to liability for personal injury claims – people being held responsible despite their status as victims.

Sometimes I can understand why the law might look down on people who play a role in their own misfortune. For instance, while it’s not currently compulsory to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, more and more injured cyclists that weren’t wearing their helmet at the time of their road traffic accident are finding judges are rather disposed to hold them partially responsible for their own injuries.

The whole idea of contributory negligence is an interesting one – essentially it boils down to saying that the injured victim could have reduced their injuries or eliminated them altogether if they had just done something differently. However, with the whole bicycle helmet issue, if the courts are going to place blame on cyclists for not wearing a helmet even though the law doesn’t make it a requirement, that seems a little questionable if you ask me.

There’s contributory negligence and then there’s just over-the-top stupidity that defies all common sense, like the story where one woman from Belfast had her car stolen yet somehow ends up having to foot the bill on the accident claims made by the two PNSI officers who were involved in apprehending the thieves. Apparently it doesn’t matter that the criminals – who broke into her family home, made off with all sorts of personal property, and then stole not just her car but her partner’s as well – were the ones driving the vehicles when the PNSI patrol had to ram them.

Unbelievably, each officer made personal injury claims for £7,500 each, and now her insurer is expected to foot the bill. On top of that, as the two criminals fled from her home in their nicked vehicles, they ran rampant through her neighbours’ properties – and she’s also expected to pay out an additional £10,000 as well. All this has increased her insurance costs by some £300 per annum – with an additional £300 hike paid by her partner as well – simply because she had the misfortune to be targeted by the thieves.


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