Road Traffic Accident Claims – How to Guide
The Department for Transport has been releasing annual reports on reported road casualties in Great Britain since 1951.
The good news is that total casualties and fatalities are significantly lower than 2007 (down 39% and 31% respectively).
This is despite a rise in the number of vehicle miles being driven each year. However, even though road and vehicle safety have improved enormously, reducing the casualty and fatality rate – there are more of us using the roads than ever- and road traffic accidents remain very common.
Put simply, you are still likely to have a road traffic accident, but happily, you are less likely to die in one.
This guide is here to help people who have been in a road traffic accident and now wish to seek compensation through a personal injury claim. The guide will outline what warrants personal injury compensation and will talk you through how to make a claim for a road traffic accident.
If you have been involved in a road traffic accident and do not wish to seek compensation but need to make an insurance claim, we recommend you read this helpful guide written by Citizens Advice.
For the Citizens Advice page on how to make an insurance claim following a car accident – click here.
Who can claim personal injury compensation for a road traffic accident?
The two most obvious components of making a personal injury claim follow a road traffic accident are:
- The accident was not your fault, or only partially your fault
- The accident caused your personal harm, whether that be psychological or physical
A solicitor will use these components to set about apportioning blame and giving evidence that as a result of the road traffic accident, your life has been altered or negatively impacted and you should receive compensation to help rectify these alterations and remedy the impacts.
You were partially to blame for the accident
If you were involved in a road traffic accident that was mostly someone else’s fault, but some of the blame could be attributed to you, then you are still able to claim.
For example, you could have been driving correctly when the collision occurred but you might not have been wearing your seatbelt, resulting in injuries that were more severe.
In this instance you may be accredited with 25% of the blame, resulting in a 25% reduction from your compensation pay out, but you would still receive 75%.
If you are unsure you can explain the accident to one of our staff who will then ask a solicitor to advise and get back to you regarding whether or not it is possible to claim.
What were your injuries following the road traffic accident
In order to submit a personal injury claim – you must have been injured from the accident. Common injuries include whiplash or cuts and abrasions, as well as broken bones. But injury doesn’t have to be physical. People have claimed for psychological trauma following a road traffic accident.
Typically this results from very destressing situations such as somebody dying or being severely hurt that you had to assist with. It can also occur if you were trapped for a long period of time or were afflicted in some other way.
Psychological trauma is hard to determine and evaluate but there needs to be some evidence that it has impacted on your life in some way.
For more information on the average compensation payouts for personal injury, see our personal injury payouts guide.
Starting a personal injury claim following a road traffic accident
What to do after a road traffic accident seems like it would come naturally to you at the time but often you are in shock and it is hard to take charge of the situation. Preparing yourself for a collision on British roads is wise forward planning.
Immediately after the accident.
Immediately following an accident, your priority should be your safety and getting help, either from; road side assistance, the police or medical assistance.
It is good practice to travel with a first aid kit in your car along with the relevant numbers in your phone such as RAC road side assistant and your corresponding membership number.
Your vehicle may be towed away or it might be possible to drive it back to your place of residence but either way you will need to contact your insurance company for any damages.
A few days after the accident
You insurance company may ask you if you plan on making a personal injury claim and can suggest a lawyer for you to use. However, your insurance company might own the law firm they suggest to you and therefore are not fully independent nor are they impartial. Be aware of the small print and the relationship between the suggested law firm and your insurance company. A vested interest in your personal injury claim might mean a cheaper pay-out is financially more viable for your insurance company.
You do not have to use the lawyer your insurance company suggests to you and we recommend you use a firm that makes sense for you.
Accident Line Direct are a claims management company meaning that they can listen to your case and put you in touch with a solicitor who has the most relevant experience and success in relation to your claim.
Once you have found a solicitor to represent you, you will need to provide them with as much evidence as you can in order for them to put forward a claim. This can include any medical records, eye witness accounts, accident reports and police records.
You can also claim for special damages which include any financial losses or indirect impacts from your accident, so transport costs, treatment costs and absences from work can also be presented to your solicitor.
Your solicitor will talk through everything with you and provide you with guidance throughout the process. Remember, there is no upfront fee to start a claim as we use No Win No Fee agreements.
Time limits with compensation claims for personal injury following a road traffic accident
Under most circumstances it isn’t that likely that following a major road traffic accident your thoughts will be on immediately making a compensation claim.
You will have to go through a recovery process, insurance litigations, investigations and sourcing a new vehicle if you rely on one for business or work. Typically these things can and should take precedence.
But once you have had time to recover and process what has happened to you, your thoughts should then turn to a personal injury claim if you think the accident wasn’t your fault and you could use the financial remuneration to help with the aftermath.
This is because there are strict time limits that apply to personal injury claims and in most cases you have three years from the time of the accident to make a claim. However, we recommend acting sooner rather than later as key evidence like eye witness accounts can degrade over time and may not be available further down the line.
There are exceptions to the three year time limitations and these include:
Children – you can make a claim at any point for a child under the age of 18. Once they are 18 years of age, the three year time limit will apply to them.
Vulnerable adults – if someone who does not have mental capacity to claim was injured in an accident then they have three years from the date the regain mental capacity to make a personal injury claim (or someone can make a claim on their behalf)
Road traffic accident compensation amounts
The amount you will receive in compensation depends on a number of different factors that are used to calculate your compensation amount following a road traffic accident. Personal injury claims aim to return the claimant to their way of life before the accident, so the further you have been removed from your usual life, typically the greater the compensation amount.
For example if you were involved in an accident and the resultant injury meant you could no longer participate in your hobbies, then this impact on your life would be incorporated into your compensation calculations.
Typically compensation amounts following a road traffic accident rely on the following:
Any modifications made to your home (i.e. wheel chair access)
Losses in income – current and future
Additional care costs and continuing care costs
Pain and suffering (impact on your life)
For specific compensation amounts relating to certain injuries, the judicial college has outlines guideline pay-out amounts. The complete list can be found in out injury payouts guide but an example has been included below.
|Full recovery within 3 months:||Up to £1,950|
|Full recovery takes place between 3 months - 1 year:||£1,950 to £3,470|
|Full recovery takes place within 1-2 years:||£3,470 to £6,290|
|Minor:||£1,950 to £6,250|
|Accelerated/exacerbated injury less than 5 years:||£6,290 to £10,960|
|Soft tissue/wrenching type injury/exacerbation of over 5 years:||£10,960 to £19,920|
|Fractures/dislocations:||£19,920 to £30,690|
|Moderate:||£6,290 to £30,690|
|Fractures/dislocations or severe damage to soft tissues that lead to chronic conditions:||£36,240 to £44,630|
|Serious fractures or damage to disks with disabilities of considerable severity:||£52,390 to £104,370|
|Little/no movement in the neck and severe headaches:||In the region of £118,240|
|Severe:||£36,240 to £118,240|
Hit by an uninsured or unknown driver
Sometimes, you might not actually know who hit you as they drove away or you may have been hit by an uninsured driver. The Motor Insurer’s Bureau can help with both of these instances. You will not be able to make a personal injury claim using a solicitor if you don’t know the driver, but you may be able to get compensation via the MIB.
Road traffic accidents involving uninsured drivers
Sometimes an insurance provider will still pay out if the vehicle was insured but the driver was not the registered driver. If they don’t then you can contact the MIB and they can make a claim on your behalf. You can still claim for personal injury compensation using a standard law firm in this instance.
Road Traffic Accidents involving unknown drivers
It may be that you were part of a hit and run collision or the driver of the registered vehicle has come up as unknown. In this instance it may be possible to trace the driver using the MIB data base. A personal injury solicitor must attempt to trace the driver in order to comply with the Untraced Drivers Agreement when making a claim through the MIB.
It is possible to make a personal injury claim against an unknown or untraced driver through the MIB. Your solicitor will work closely with the MIB and will be required to provide them with medical records and other personal information relating to your claim.
Road Traffic Accidents Abroad
Being involved in an car accident abroad still envokes the same rights as being in the UK and you are entitled to make a claim against the negligent driver using a personal injury solicitor.
Accident line direct has a much more detailed page on what to do if you have been involved in an accident abroad, which you can read here.