A guide to Road Traffic Accident claims

Road Traffic Accidents can leave victims with minor injuries such as bruises and fractures right through to more serious traumas like spinal injuries.

In any scenario where another driver was at fault, there could be a chance of compensation for the victim which can help them in recovering from their injuries. In this article we will discuss the different types of Road Traffic Accidents, what to do if you are involved, how you can make a claim and how much you could potentially be entitled to.

Types of accidents

Accidents can occur in a number of different ways and you don’t necessarily have to be driving a car to be involved; you could be a passenger, a pedestrian, or even travelling on a bus when an accident occurs.

Claims for cyclists and motorcyclists

Cyclists account for a significant number of road users, especially in city areas where there is a lot of congestion. However, cycling around traffic can be dangerous and has the potential to result in an injury.

Some of the most common accidents occur from motorists pulling or turning into the path of a cyclist. Motorcycles are another easy way to avoid traffic congestion, but are also risky and accidents involving motorcycles make up for a quarter of all Road Traffic Accidents in the UK.

If you are injured in a Road Traffic Accident then it is important to get details from the other parties involved and to ask for contact information from anyone who might be a witness.

Claims for passengers

Accidents don’t only occur when you are driving; you might be a passenger in a taxi, bus or another private vehicle. If an accident occurs where you are injured and it wasn’t your fault then you might be able to make a claim for compensation.

With the help of a solicitor, you may be able to demonstrate that you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of another party, which may result in compensation for you.

Accidents due to poor road conditions

A high number of accidents are caused not by other road users, but due to the poor state of road surfaces. If you can provide proof that you have been injured due to badly maintained road surfaces then you may be able to make a claim.

These types of claims are directed at local councils and are often disputed, so it is important that evidence such as photographs are taken to provide proof. A council will likely have information regarding when the road surface was last maintained, and information such as this may be difficult to obtain on your own. You should therefore seek advice from a solicitor in order to get the best possible result from a claim.

What to do if you’ve been involved in an accident

Being involved in a Road Traffic Accident can be highly distressing, however, depending on the severity of your injuries there are certain things you must remember to do if you need to make a claim for compensation afterwards.

The first thing you should remember is that you should not drive away, and in fact in certain scenarios it can be against the law to leave the scene of an accident without leaving ample time for someone who has been affected in the incident to take down your details.

This could apply when someone other than you is injured, another vehicle or someone else’s property is damaged (including bollards and lamp posts, etc) or animals such as livestock or pets are hurt.

You should take care to see if anyone else has been injured and be prepared to call the emergency services if a serious accident has happened.

It is important that you do not admit liability or apologise if you want to make a claim for compensation.

What details should I take?

You should ask the other driver for their name, address and insurance company and you should note down the colour, make, model and registration of their car for your insurance company. If there are people nearby who may have witnessed the incident you should ask them for their contact details and you should take photographs of damage to your vehicle.

How to claim

Road Traffic Accidents could leave you with serious injuries that mean you have to take time away from work to recover or you may have suffered damage to your vehicle; as such it is important that you are financially compensated, but how do you go about making a claim?

Who is to blame?

The first stage in making a claim for compensation is establishing who is responsible for the accident. This could be very straight forward if the other party agrees they are to blame, however this could also be a long drawn out process, involving the courts if the opponent wants to dispute the case. In this scenario, it becomes very important to have collected lots of details at the time of the incident, taken photographs and have witnesses who can be asked about what they saw to back up your story.

In some cases, such as hit and runs, you might not even be able to identify the person who was responsible and as such compensation must be claimed from other sources, such as the Motor Insurers Bureau which runs a specific scheme for that type of situation. They would also be able to help if the driver responsible was uninsured.

What is the claims process?

Whilst the time it takes for a Road Traffic Accident case to be settled can vary greatly depending upon the complexity of the case and the injuries sustained a new process introduced in 2013 has helped to speed up and streamline the process for claiming compensation in lower value cases. Since the 31st July 2013 claims worth more than £1,000 and less than £25,000 (excluding claims for hire and vehicle damage) will be processed electronically. Once your solicitor has full details of the accident a Claim Notification Form (the CNF) will be sent electronically to the Defendant Insurer.

The Defendant Insurer must acknowledge receipt the next working day and indicate within 15 working days whether liability is admitted for the accident. If the Defendant Insurer fails to respond to the CNF or if liability is denied or contributory negligence is alleged (except not wearing a seatbelt) then the claim will not continue within the low value claims process and will continue in accordance with the old personal injury protocol which allows the defendant insurer three months to investigate the claim and provide relevant documents in support of any denial of liability. If liability is denied but your solicitor believes your claim has continued prospects of success, then court proceedings may need to be commenced once medical evidence has been obtained.

If however, liability is accepted for the accident, medical evidence will be obtained by your solicitor from an independent medical expert. That medical evidence, if approved by you, will then be sent to the Defendant Insurer as part of a Settlement Pack which includes details of your financial losses and an offer to settle which you have agreed with your solicitor. The Defendant Insurer may then accept your offer to settle or make a counter offer to settle within 15 days. A further period of 20 days is allowed for additional negotiations to try to settle the claim. If the parties cannot agree a settlement figure then the case will proceed to a quantum hearing and a Judge will decide how much compensation you should receive.

Legal costs for claims pursued through the low value claims process are fixed and are payable by the Defendant Insurer if your claim succeeds.

How much money could I receive?

The next step is to assess the costs that have been brought about by the accident. There are a large number of variable factors that can affect the amount you are awarded and you should seek advice from a solicitor as to a realistic amount that you might be entitled to.

The court will take into account the injuries that you received in the accident, the extent of your injuries and how serious they are deemed to be. They will consider whether or not you have suffered multiple injuries, if you have had to undergo significant treatment including surgery, and may also factor in whether or not you played any part in your injuries.

It is not only physical damage that is taken into account, as the court will also consider whether or not you underwent any emotional trauma and damage to your personal life as a result of the accident.

Another role which plays a large part in deciding a final compensation amount can be the impact on your working life, and whether as a result of your accident you have had to take time off work which has meant a loss of earnings.

Other factors such as damage to your property, i.e. your vehicle, may also have some significance in a final settlement amount, so keep receipts of any work that has to be done to your vehicle as a result of the accident. If you vehicle is repairable you should obtain two estimates. If your vehicle is a right off an engineer will need to inspect your vehicle. Your solicitor can advice you on this.

Finally, the court will hear from medical experts who will provide evidence of your injuries and will look at other similar cases with a close likeness when deciding upon the total amount. A good solicitor will have knowledge of previous cases as well as judicial guidelines which can help to give you an estimate.

Here at Rollingsons Solicitors, we pride ourselves in providing a personal service to all our clients, and we endeavour to obtain the very best result in each case. Ranging from straight forward claims to very complex injury claims, we help injured people to obtain full and fair compensation for their injuries and losses. If you have been injured in an accident which wasn’t your fault then you may have a case for compensation. To arrange an initial consultation, please contact Rollingsons on 020 7611 4848 or visit our personal injury page for further information.