Being involved in a car crash can be very traumatic, and even minor car accidents can cause painful, long lasting injuries.
After a car accident, it’s important to go to a hospital or see a doctor as soon as you can. Not only will this mean you’ll get the treatment you need before your condition gets worse, but the medical evidence can also help when it comes to making a car accident claim.
If possible, you should try to get as much information as possible while you’re still at the scene of the accident to give you the best chance of making a successful claim. For example, it can be helpful to gather:
Then, we’d recommend getting in touch with a trained legal adviser on 0800 234 6438 as soon as possible. They’ll be able to let you know whether they think you can make a claim and will be happy to answer your questions.
Starting a car accident claim with an expert solicitor is simple. The first step is to get in touch with a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438 to find out whether you’re likely to be able to make a claim.
They’ll ask you some questions about your injury and accident while on the phone; this is so they can get a better understanding of what you’ve been through.
You’re under no obligation to go ahead with a claim when you speak to an adviser, so if you’re just looking for answers to your questions, that’s fine too – they’re happy to help.
If you do decide you’d like to take the next steps, the adviser can put you in touch with an experienced solicitor on the same call. They’ll then run you through the claims process in a bit more detail and how no win no fee claims work.
Then, if you’re still happy to go ahead, your solicitor will get in touch with the other party and will negotiate on your behalf. They’ll be able to do most of the hard work for you, but will stay in touch and keep you updated on how your case is going.
Because of the nature of car accidents, the types of injuries can range from minor scrapes and bruises to serious, lifelong disability. Cars can also be involved in accidents with larger vehicles, such as busses or lorries, which can cause particularly serious injuries.
If you were involved in a car accident and it wasn’t your fault, it’s likely we can help you claim for almost any type of injury, such as:
If your car accident was caused by an uninsured or untraced driver, then you might still be able to make a claim.
The Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) was created to provide compensation in these cases. It’s funded by a small contribution from every vehicle insurance premium taken out in the UK.
If you’re involved in an accident with a hit and run driver you should:
If you have comprehensive insurance cover you need to claim for any damage to your vehicle from your own insurer – since August 2015 the MIB will only consider vehicle damage claims if you don’t have comprehensive insurance. You can, however, claim from the MIB for any personal injury you have suffered.
The compensation you receive is split into two parts – general damages and special damages. This means you’ll be covered for the pain and suffering caused by your accident, as well as any financial impacts it’s had on you and your family.
We’ve included some more information about the different types of damages below:
If your car accident was partly your fault, you may still be able to claim compensation, but it might be a smaller amount depending on how much the court thinks you’re to blame for your injuries.
The case law shows there are no hard and fast rules as to how much your compensation will be reduced by if contributory negligence (as it is known) is found – this will be decided on a case by case basis.
For example, in Owens v Brimmell (1977), the claimant’s compensation was reduced by 20% because he knew the driver was drunk when he got in the car with him. However, in Traynor v Donovan (1978), the court awarded the full compensation amount because the claimant didn’t know when he got in the car that the driver was so drunk that he couldn’t properly control the vehicle.
Contributory negligence has also been found – and compensation reduced as a result – in cases where the claimant was turning right from a main road and was hit by another vehicle attempting to overtake (Joliffe v Hay (1991) – compensation was reduced by 30% because he had only used his mirrors once); and where the claimant was not wearing a seatbelt (Froom v Butcher (1976)).
Road accidents can be particularly traumatic if your child was injured as result. We can’t take away what you or your child has been through, but an expert solicitor can help you make a compensation claim on their behalf. You can make a claim on behalf of your children any time up until they turn 18. Alternatively, they can make a claim for themselves up to three years after their 18th birthday.
The length of time it takes to make a car accident claim can depend on how complex your case is and how serious your injuries are, as well as:
If your injuries are fairly minor, then your claim could be settled in a matter of months if the other party accepts liability straight away. But if you’re seriously injured, liability is denied or your case has to go to court, it can take much longer.
If it’s taking a long time for a settlement to be reached and you’re running short of money because of your injuries, it might be possible for your lawyer to help you get an ‘interim payment’. This is an amount of compensation which can be paid to you before your final settlement to cover any immediate costs. Your solicitor will talk this through with you.
In 2010, the government unveiled the Road Traffic Accident Personal Injury Scheme (also called the Claims Portal) with the aim of reducing the time and costs of lower-value personal injury claims arising from road traffic accidents.
Initially, the scheme covered compensation claims where the expected value was between £1,000 and £10,000, however, the upper limit was increased in 2013 to £25,000. The main target of the scheme is to have any qualifying claims settled within six months.
If your car accident claim is valued at £25,000 or less, you should receive your compensation a lot quicker than pre-2013. The scheme also simplifies the whole process of claiming compensation, removing a lot of the stress involved.
RTAs have a unique protocol, meaning they are slightly different from other personal injury claims. This is known as the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents and should be followed for any road accident compensation claim worth £25,000 or less.
The Pre-Action Protocol acts as a guideline on how the use and cost of medical reports are controlled and time limits for when information should be sent. It also sets guidelines on interim payments and when they should be made, if they are applicable.
If one party unreasonably fails to abide by the Protocol, the court may order costs against them too.
The secure exchange of information about your claim is also facilitated by the Claims Portal, or RTA Personal Injury Scheme.
Lucy is a NCTJ trained journalist who studied law at the University of Greenwich. She is a legal journalist and editor with more than 20 years experience writing about the law.
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