Admitting liability for an accident – can you change your mind?

Tractor on a road
3 minute read

Tractor on a road

Gaby (not her real name) was driving along a road in Somerset that became narrower at a bend, when suddenly a tractor came around the corner. Due to its size, the tractor was sticking out into Gaby’s lane. She didn’t feel that there was enough room to pass so hit the brakes, but unfortunately a collision could not be avoided.

This kind of accident can be hard to avoid on country roads, but something quite unusual was still to come. After the accident, Gaby’s insurer accepted liability for the accident without her consent to do so, and paid for the damage to the other vehicle without further analysing the evidence of the accident. As a result, even though Gaby sustained very serious injuries in the accident, she didn’t seek legal advice as she thought that her insurer’s actions had stopped her from being able to make a claim.

Two years later, she decided to seek legal advice and we took on the claim.

The tractor driver’s insurers tried to use the fact that Gaby’s insurers had admitted liability in their defence, but Gaby was able to prove, by obtaining a copy of her insurers file and all telephone recordings, that she hadn’t ever agreed to accept liability for the accident.

Can you change an admission of liability?

In a personal injury claim, a Defendant can admit liability and then ask to change their mind if new evidence comes to light. To do that they have to apply to the Court for permission to withdraw their admission. The Court will consider:

(a)    why they want to change their admission of liability

(b)    If there has been any behaviour by the people involved in the case that might have affected the decision to change their admission

(c)    Will it have a negative effect on anyone if the admission is changed?

(d)    Will it have a negative effect on anyone if the admission isn’t changed?

(e)    How far along the Court case is, and how near to trial it is

(f)    How likely the claim is to be successful if the admission is withdrawn

(g)    Whether the change will stop justice being done

If a Defendant is able to withdraw an admission of liability when new evidence comes to light, then a Claimant (like Gaby) shouldn’t be seen as having admitted liability just because her insurer did so on her behalf. In Gaby’s case at trial, the Judge confirmed in his judgment that the decision of her insurers to admit liability and pay for the damage to the other vehicle did not bind her.

Making a personal injury claim if your insurer admitted liability

If you or your loved ones have been involved in a serious accident don’t hesitate to explore your legal options even if your insurer has already accepted the claim. If you feel that the accident was not your fault then it is worth having a discussion with a specialist solicitor to get a second opinion.

Our team at Enable Law specialises in representing people following life changing accidents. Please do not hesitate to contact our friendly and professional team. We will have a chat with you and explore all possible options to best support you.

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