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Schumachers accident shows us why having a liable party is vital in a personal injury case

Yesterday's news that owners of the French ski resort Meribel are to be cleared of responsibility for Michael Schumacher's tragic accident in December, shines a spotlight on just how vital it is in the case of a claim for personal injury, that liability is established and how this affects a case.  

Establishing liability, or, in lay terms, responsibility, for an accident is a key stage in making a claim.  Of course, I join others in praying Michael Schumacher makes a full recovery from his injuries.  However, his accident is a high profile example of head injuries not dissimilar to those I specialise in, at JMW.  I'd like to take a brief moment to consider the early stages a client and I would take, were they to have suffered a head injury under similar circumstances to Schumacher.  

My very first priority after speaking with an individual wishing to make a claim as a result of a very serious injury, or their family, is to get as complete an understanding of the accident as possible.  In a case where the injuries have been as severe as Schumacher's, this would involve a visit to the family, to find out everything possible about the circumstances surrounding the accident, the current medical situation the injured party found themselves in and what would be required to help them get back on the road to recovery after the accident.  

I would then start my own investigations into establishing who is at fault for the accident.  Should Schumacher have been a British national, and had his family chosen to make a claim as a result of his accident, the clearing of the resort owners would be a serious issue in his case.  We would initially consider that, if an individual is injured whilst skiing at a skiing resort, a fault would lie with the resort, and perhaps their health and safety procedures.  I would therefore send a letter to the ski resort, outlining the issues and that my client is seeking to make a claim.  

If it wasn't the case that the resort was at fault, as it has been found to be in Schumacher's case, I would have to open up the avenues of investigation to establish who else may bear the responsibility for the accident.  In Schumacher's accident, some reports are claiming that the helmet camera he was wearing caused his helmet to shatter.  If that is the case, and it is the helmet that contributed to Schumacher's accident, we would need to investigate the manufacture of the helmet, the advice Schumacher received regarding the helmet and helmet camera, and where, along this process, there may have been a fault.  

Once we have established where an issue may lie that has caused the accident, that party can be contacted, and the case can be pursued.  Naturally, in order to make a claim for personal injury, someone must be responsible for the accident that led to injury.  If it is clear that nobody is responsible, then no claim can be brought.  

I would be keeping my client and their family advised, every step of the way if there was an issue in establishing a responsible party for an accident.  As it is my role as a solicitor to do my best to recover a compensation award when someone has been injured as a result of another party's fault, I would pursue every avenue to discover if my client had been put in jeopardy by another or not.  

In Michael Schumacher's case, the evidence presenting itself in the media seems to point to nothing more than a tragic accident a talented sportsman has had whilst embarking on a leisure pursuit and, were he to have made a claim within English law, this turn of events would have made it problematic.  Rest assured, I am always happy to provide no obligation advice if an individual or their family comes to me regarding an injury as a result of an accident, to help them understand what their position is, and whether a claim can be made, with a view to getting the injured party back on an even keel as soon as possible.  

Should you have any queries as a result of my blog, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me, on 0800 054 6570.  

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