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Road Traffic Accident Claims

Although UK roads are amongst the safest in the world, road traffic accidents remain a fairly common occurrence. In some cases, these accidents are relatively minor and don't result in any significant injury to those involved. But unfortunately, many people involved in a road accident do suffer injuries, which can have a serious impact on their lives, and those of their families too.

If you are injured in a road accident that wasn't your fault, you are legally entitled to make a personal injury claim. No matter how severe your injuries may be, our experienced and sympathetic injury lawyers can help you obtain maximum compensation and provide you with the support you need during what can be a difficult and stressful time.

When you think of road traffic accidents, it is usually car accidents that people think of. This is not surprising given the fact that cars make up over 75% of traffic on UK roads [Source: Gov.uk]. But of course, road accident injuries may also involve a host of other road users, including motorbikes, lorries, buses, vans and bicycles. Not forgetting pedestrians of course, who also have a right to make a claim for compensation if they are injured due to the negligence of the driver of a vehicle.

The key point to remember is that all road users owe a duty of care not to endanger other road users. So whether you are a driver, passenger or a pedestrian, if you are injured because another road user has been negligent, you are entitled to claim compensation.

Local injury lawyers available throughout the UK

No matter where you live in the UK, we can put you in direct contact with an expert personal injury solicitor that works on a no win no fee basis. This means that if your claim is not successful, you will not pay a penny in legal fees. So you can get an experienced injury lawyer fighting your corner, without the fear of putting yourself under any worrying financial risk.

The claim process always starts with a free, no obligation consultation. During this free consultation, you will be asked a few simple questions about your accident and the injury you have suffered. The aim is simply for the solicitor to determine if you have a valid accident claim and for them to explain how they can help you. It is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have, or alleviate any concerns.

Time Limit - If you are considering making a claim, it is important to act quickly. In most cases you have 3 years from the date of the accident within which to pursue a personal injury claim. This time limit is established under the Limitation Act 1980. After this point, any potential right to compensation that you may have had would be lost.  

How much compensation will I receive?

How much compensation you receive for a successful injury claim will very much depend on your particular circumstances and the impact the accident has had on your life. The amount of compensation you are entitled to will be based on the combined total of two separate types of damages. These are known as general damages and special damages.

General Damages - This amount of compensation is based on the pain and suffering that you have suffered, and the impact that the injuries have had on your day-to-day life. Generally speaking, the more significant and long lasting the injury is, the higher the level of compensation will be.

The Judicial Studies Board provides guideline compensation amounts for various injury types. One of the most common injuries in car accidents is whiplash. The recommended guidelines for whiplash compensation and similar neck injuries is between £1,000 for minor injuries that recover relatively quickly, and £20,185 for more severe neck pain that is either permanent or causing recurring pain.

Special Damages - On top of damages for the injury or injuries you have suffered, you can also claim for any financial expenses that you have endured. The most obvious of these is a loss of earnings in situations where your injuries mean you are unable to work for a certain period of time. Special damages can also cover medical expenses, travel costs and even the cost of making your home wheelchair user accessible if you have suffered severe long-term injuries.

What evidence will I need?

As with other types of personal injury claims, in order to claim compensation for a road traffic accident, you must be able to prove that another person or company was at fault and that you have suffered an injury or injuries as a direct result.

In a lot of cases, it may be clear who was to blame for the accident, and this person may automatically admit liability. But in other instances, fault for the accident may be contested. So with this in mind, it is important to gather evidence to support your version of events as soon as possible, whether or not you are considering making a claim at this stage.

Here are some suggestions for possible evidence that you may be able to gather:

  • Contact and insurance details - Make a record of the name, address, phone number and insurance details of everybody involved in the accident. 
  • Vehicle details - If the accident involved another vehicle, write down the registration number and the make and model of the vehicle.
  • Photographs - Taking photographs of the accident scene when safe and possible to do so can be a great source of evidence. These can help to show the position of vehicles in relation to the road, the damage caused by the crash and the weather conditions at the time of the accident. 
  • Accident sketch - If you are able to take photographs, these may be sufficient. But if not, an alternative option is to do a basic sketch of the accident scene which shows the position of the vehicles, the travel direction, etc. 
  • Witness details - If there are any independent witnesses to the accident, try to take down their name and contact details. A witness statement that confirms your version of events can greatly improve your case, particularly where the fault for the accident is contested. 
  • Medical Records - Make a note of any visits you make to your GP or hospital regarding the injuries you suffered. You should also keep records of any medication or treatments you have been prescribed. This information can provide evidence of the severity of your injuries.
  • Financial Losses - If your injury claim is successful, a proportion of your compensation will be based on the financial impact the event has had on you. To recover compensation for these losses, you should keep receipts for any direct expenses, such as medication or treatment costs, taxi journeys to hospital appointments, etc. If you are unable to work, you should also keep a record of any loss of earnings.

It is important to remember that the evidence listed above is not exhaustive, and not having this information will not exclude you from making a compensation claim. But having some of this evidence available can certainly improve your chances of success.

Did you know? Under the Data Protection Act you have a legal right to request CCTV footage of yourself. So if your accident has been caught on camera, you can make a written request to the owner of the camera to provide you with a copy. You must provide them with information to help identify you in the footage, such as the date and time, proof of identity, etc. The CCTV owner has to provide you with a copy within 40 days of the request being made, and can charge up to £10 for doing so. [Source: Gov.uk]

Common Questions Regarding Road Accidents

Should I call the police?

This depends on the circumstances of your accident. For most minor accidents, insurance details can be exchanged between the parties involved without any need to involve the police. However, here are some examples of when the police should be called, some of which are required by law under Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988:

  • If you or anybody else involved in the accident has suffered injuries, you should notify the police and request an ambulance if required.
  • If the driver of the other vehicle refuses to give you their contact details or leaves the scene of the accident, you should call the police straight away.
  • You should call the police if you suspect that the driver involved in the collision may have been drink driving or under the influence of drugs.
  • The police will need to be informed if the accident is causing a road block or putting you or other road users in danger. This could be the case if the incident occurred at a busy roundabout, on a motorway or at a blind bend in the road.
  • If you feel threatened in any way by the actions of anybody involved in the accident, you should call the police. For example, if somebody is abusive or behaves aggressively towards you or anybody else involved.

I was partly at fault. Can I still make a claim?

You may still be entitled to make a claim even if you were partly at fault for the accident or the injuries you have suffered. This is known as contributory negligence. Any compensation awarded would be reduced to take into account your level of responsibility for the accident or injuries.

For example, if another vehicle failed to stop in time and crashed into the back of your car, that driver would be at fault for the accident. However, if you were not wearing your seatbelt, the injuries you suffered may be more significant than they would have been had you have been wearing your seatbelt. So although you were not in any way at fault for the accident, your negligence in not wearing a seatbelt contributed to your injuries.

Whether you are partly responsible for the accident or the injuries, contributory negligence rules will be used to determine your level of responsibility. If you are deemed to have been 25% at fault, then your compensation award would be reduced by this amount.

What if the driver that caused my accident is not insured?

Every driver has a legal obligation to have valid motor insurance, and it is this insurance policy that would compensate the innocent victims of any accidents that are caused on the road. But unfortunately, there are still thousands of people that drive without insurance. If your injuries are caused by the negligence of an uninsured motorist, your claim for compensation may be referred to the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB). The MIB was setup to compensate people in this very position and is funded by insurance companies. If you are in this situation, it is important to contact an injury solicitor as soon as possible so they can help you to process your claim.

What if the other driver doesn't stop?

Anybody involved in an accident where either damage to property or an injury has occurred is legally required to stop at the scene so that insurance details can be exchanged. If a motorist drives off without doing this, not only are they committing a criminal offence, but they also make it more difficult for the injured party to claim compensation.

The first thing you should do in this situation is contact the police. It could be that the driver hasn't stopped because they are uninsured, they don't have a valid driving licence or that the vehicle is stolen. By contacting the police they may be able to trace the vehicle and driver involved. If however the driver cannot be found, you would be entitled to claim injury compensation through the MIB's 'Untraced Drivers Agreement'. To be eligible, you must have reported the incident to the police within 5 days of the accident for property damage, or within 14 days for personal injuries.

Can I claim for an RTA that happened abroad?

Yes, most injury lawyers will still be able to help you claim compensation for accidents that happen abroad. How your claim will proceed will depend on whether the RTA was within Europe or elsewhere. If the crash was in a country outside of Europe, your appointed solicitor would need to make the claim within the country where the accident took place. This can be more complicated and can lengthen the process due to language or cultural differences between countries.

If on the other hand the accident was in a European country, making a personal injury claim is much more straight forward. Since the European Union Motor Insurance Directive was implemented in 2003, the insurance company of the at-fault party must appoint a representative to deal with the claim from within the injured person's country. This means that a claim against a driver from a European country can be made in much the same way as one would be made had the accident happened in the UK, making it a lot easier for those involved.