Liability law and insurance law
The liable party may have liability insurance, for example the well-known AVB insurance (corporate liability insurance) or the D&O / BCA insurance (directors liability insurance). The policy and its terms and conditions determine whether the insurer will provide coverage and pay out. If there is coverage under this liability insurance policy, the insurer will normally proceed to pay the damages that are eligible for compensation in the particular case.
But it is not always necessary to recover damages from another party yourself. In some cases, the aggrieved party (the party who has suffered damages) may have recourse to its own insurance, such as transportation property insurance. If another party is liable for the damages compensated by the insurer, recourse can be taken by this insurer against (the insurer of) the liable party.
Wolfs Advocaten also advises, mediates and litigates on insurance law issues regarding liability. She represents the interests of insurers, the liable party and the injured party.
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Company fires, cargo theft, (medical) errors and industrial accidents. These topics are in the news almost daily.
The key question is often which party can be held liable for the damages caused by that one industrial accident, for example: can the employer be held liable or must the employee bear his own damages? Or take a cargo theft during transport: is it the carrier who is liable for the damages resulting from the cargo theft?
And what about the situation where a party has given goods for safekeeping (for storage, for example) to another party and a fire breaks out, resulting in the loss of the goods?
You may also face a liability issue privately. Think of a contractor who did not do the remodeling work properly, an (insurance) intermediary who did not advise you properly causing you to be under insured, or a product that is flawed causing damage. Or perhaps you have been held personally liable as a director of a company.
The basic principle in liability law is that each person bears his or her own damages. But there is an exception to the aforementioned rule. Hence the sentence "Each shall bear his own damages unless...". Liability law regulates which party can be sued and answers the question of whether that party should compensate for the damages.
Several requirements must be met for a party to be held liable, depending on the type of liability. The most common grounds for liability are breach of contract and wrongful act.
The foregoing already showed that there must be damages in each case. In all cases, that damage must result from the event on which the liability is based. This is referred to as the causal relationship. The damage must be causally related to the act or event on which the liability is based. In practice, the question of whether there is such a causal connection frequently results in discussions. For Wolfs Advocaten this is familiar territory. Wolfs Advocaten's lawyers litigate about this on a regular basis.
There are several other requirements that must be met. For example, the damage - which is causally related to the act or event on which the liability is based - must also be attributable to the liable party. If this is not the case, for example because the damage was caused by a circumstance beyond the control of the liable party, the damage also does not have to be compensated.
In short: the question of whether a party is liable depends on all the circumstances of the case at hand. Wolfs Advocaten advises on the legal (im)possibilities and looks at the case from all angles.
If the damage was caused by another party and this party can be held liable, this does not always mean that this party can be held liable for all the damages. Agreements may have been made or general terms and conditions may have been agreed upon that contain an exclusion or limitation of liability.
Liability law is thus also closely related to contract law: if agreements have been made between parties, these may determine the liability of the party and the amount of damages.