Each day, hundreds of people are injured in road accidents for which they were not at fault. If you were injured in an accident — whether as a driver, passenger, cyclist or pedestrian — you may qualify to pursue car accident claims compensation.
Although the most common type of road traffic accidents are those in which two or more vehicles are involved in a collision, it is not just other drivers who claimants injured in a collision can pursue compensation from; compensation for car accident injuries can be sought from local councils which fail to keep the road in a safe condition, or against a mechanic who may have overlooked or failed to properly rectify a fault in your vehicle.
If you are able to prove that someone other than yourself was responsible for injuries you sustained in a road traffic accident, you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries and should speak with a personal injury claims solicitor at the first possible opportunity.
Establishing Eligibility to Claim Car Accident Compensation
You Must Have Been Injured in a Collision
In order for car accident claims to be possible, you must be able to access a medical record of your injuries. In most instances after a car accident, common sense would prevail and a road traffic accident victim would make their way to the nearest hospital’s Accident and Emergency department immediately after the crash to receive treatment.
However, if you were injured in a collision and did not receive treatment at a hospital, and instead relied on first aid at the scene or treated your injuries at home, there will be no record of the injuries you sustained, and it is likely that your claim for an injury sustained in an accident will not be successful.
If you did not receive treatment immediately and instead visit a doctor after a significant period of time has elapsed since your accident, you will not necessarily be ineligible to claim compensation for injuries sustained in a car crash, but any award may reflect the lack of care you demonstrated by not having your injuries treated at the earliest possible opportunity.
Car Accident Claims Must Involve a Negligence Element
Every driver on UK roads owes a duty of care to other drivers, their passengers, pedestrians and cyclists. Drivers are obligated to drive in a safe manner and must not place other road users in a position in which they could be injured. When a road traffic accident occurs, a car accident claims solicitor will attempt to establish whether a driver was in breach of their duty of care.
Even when a negligent driver has admitted that they were at fault for an accident, it still may not be enough to retrieve compensation for car accident injuries and you may have to prove negligence to their insurance company too. To ensure a claim for an injury sustained in an accident is as strong as possible, it should be backed up by evidence such as witness statements, accident reports, CCTV evidence, and photographs of your injuries, the damage to your car and the scene of the collision.
If your injuries were caused by hazards other than negligent drivers or pedestrians, your solicitor will ensure that you are just as prepared to claim compensation for injuries sustained in a car crash. It should be noted that claiming compensation for car accident injuries against a local council or a garage may prove to be more complex than against a negligent driver as they may not owe you an “absolute” duty of care.
Claiming Compensation for Car Accident Injuries
In order to pursue car accident claims, your solicitor will compose a Letter of Claim to be sent to the negligent party’s insurers. This will be done once your solicitor has compiled all of the evidence necessary for you to be able to pursue compensation for car accident injuries, and will advise the insurance company that you intend to pursue a claim for an injury sustained in an accident against one of their policyholders.
After the letter has been sent, the insurance company has twenty-one days in which to acknowledge that they received the letter, and a further ninety days in which to inform you whether or not they are going to accept liability for their policyholder’s negligence.
Your solicitor will not discuss how much road traffic accident compensation you are seeking with the insurance company until he receives an admission of liability. Indeed, you may not be aware of the full extent of your injuries, as the symptoms of injuries sustained in road traffic accidents can often take several weeks or months to manifest themselves. You may also not be aware of the extent to which your injuries will affect your home or work life, and may even still be off work recuperating at the time the Letter of Claim is dispatched.
Only once the insurance company has accepted liability for their policyholder’s negligence will your solicitor discuss how much compensation you may receive for being injured in a collision. If the insurance company does not admit liability, or no agreement can be reached on compensation, your solicitor will issue court proceedings and claim compensation for injuries sustained in a car crash in court.
How Much Compensation for Being Injured in a Collision?
The amount of car accident claims compensation you are entitled to will depend on the nature, severity and consequences of your injuries. First, your solicitor will consult the Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages for a base figure, and will then augment it based on variables such as your age, sex and state of health prior to the road traffic accident.
Persons injured in a collision are also entitled to claim for any deterioration in their quality of life, an inability to perform household duties, being unable to partake in leisure activities and engage in social events. This type of compensation for car accident injuries is referred to as “Loss of Amenity”.
A claim for an injury sustained in an accident is not just limited to physical injuries — compensation for any psychological injuries sustained may also be awarded. The amount of compensation that may be awarded for emotional injuries will have to be quantified by a psychologist. Emotional injuries are particularly significant in claims where a child passenger has seen a parent or sibling badly injured.
You may also be able to redeem any financial costs you incurred as a result of your injuries through the special damages portion of a settlement. This can include any loss of income incurred as a result of any inability to work brought on by your injury. You should note that an amount may be deducted from your claim for compensation from injuries sustained in a car crash if you were receiving certain state benefits while you were out of work.
Unsolicited Offers of Road Traffic Accident Compensation
One of the stages of pursuing car accident claims is reporting your accident to the police if they did not attend the scene of the road traffic accident. Statements for this report should be provided by the negligent driver and the accident victim independently of each other. As a condition of their insurance, negligent drivers may be required to report the accident to their insurance company.
Once the insurance company has been made aware of the accident by their policyholder, they may choose to issue you with an unsolicited offer of compensation. The main reason insurance companies make unsolicited offers of compensation to claimants at an early stage after their accident is to engage them when they are at their most vulnerable and more likely to accept the offer. This allows the insurance company to settle your claim for compensation for car accident injuries without devoting any significant time or expense.
When pursuing a claim for an injury sustained in an accident it is important never to accept an unsolicited offer of compensation and to always refer the offer to your solicitor. If you are tempted to accept the offer due to financial hardships you have experienced since your accident, you should speak to your solicitor about the possibility of being able to receive interim payments until your solicitor has negotiated a full settlement with the insurance company.
Claim for an Injury Sustained in an Accident and Uninsured/Untraceable Drivers
If your claim for an injury sustained in an accident is based on an accident in which the negligent driver absconded from the scene after the collision, you may be able to pursue your claim against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB). The Motor Insurers’ Bureau will want to know that everything possible has been done in order to trace the negligent driver, or that the driver was uninsured before it decides to pay out for a claim and has an interest in keeping the amount of compensation it pays out to drivers to an absolute minimum.
The MIB is funded by vehicle insurance companies operating in the UK. Although it will refer to the Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages when it assesses how much compensation you are entitled to, it is not guaranteed that all elements of your entitlement — loss of amenity, special damages for example — will be included in their offer.
As no two car accident claims are identical — even when claimants are injured in the same accident or their injuries are identical, all persons injured in a collision should have their entitlement to claim compensation for injuries assessed by a personal injury claims solicitor.
Road Traffic Accident Compensation for Passengers
Passengers involved in road traffic accidents have the same entitlement to pursue car accident claims as drivers injured in a collision. It may even be possible to claim for an injury sustained in an accident against the driver with whom you were travelling if they were the person responsible for your injuries.
Indeed, compensation for car accident injuries for passengers can often amount to more than what is awarded to drivers as they do not have the same split second in which to brace themselves when an accident is known to be imminent.
Car accident claims for passengers can often be emotional affairs — particularly when the person being claimed against is a friend or family member. If you must claim compensation for injuries sustained in a car crash against someone you know, you should remember that the claim is being pursued against their insurance company and not against them personally.
Claim Compensation for Injuries for Children
Car accident claims for children are pursued in a slightly different manner than those involving adults. The most obvious difference is that as children are not legally allowed to instruct a solicitor or pursue a claim for an injury sustained in an accident, an adult must take the claim on their behalf, acting as a “Litigation Friend”.
A “Litigation Friend” is usually a parent or guardian, and cannot be someone with a conflict of interest in the claim — e.g. the person who caused the accident, and must be someone who is willing to bear all financial responsibility for the claim.
Once a settlement for a child injured in a collision has been agreed, the compensation package must be approved by a judge. After it is approved, the compensation must be paid into court funds, where it will remain until the child reaches eighteen years of age. Only funds for medical or educational expenses may be accessed in the meantime.
No Win, No Fee Road Traffic Accident Compensation
In car accident claims where a personal injury claims solicitor believes that there is a high likelihood of success, you may be offered a “No Win, No Fee” option. A “No Win, No Fee” arrangement is one in which a solicitor offers representation on the understanding that if your claim for an injury sustained in an accident in not successful, you will not have to pay any legal fees.
Although a “No Win, No Fee” arrangement may appear to be an ideal method by which to claim compensation, you should note that if your claim for being injured in a collision is unsuccessful, you may still be responsible for a defendant’s legal fees or for any expenses which your solicitor may have incurred while representing you.
In order to address the potential liability, your solicitor may instruct you to examine your home contents or car insurance policies — which, unknown to many holders, contain provisions for legal fees. Legal fees insurance may also have been issued to you through a credit card policy, or through a membership of a motoring organisation.
Car Accident Claims Legal Advice
Whether or not you qualify to claim compensation for car accident injuries through a “No Win, No Fee” arrangement is something you can discuss with your car accident claims solicitor at your initial assessment. Understandably, you may have more questions about pursuing compensation for car accident injuries: you should compose a full list before you speak with your solicitor.
It is always advisable to speak with a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity after your accident, particularly as the Statute of Limitations for personal injury claims in the UK is three years. While three years may appear to be ample time in which to claim compensation for injuries sustained in a road traffic accident, it can often be insufficient. To ensure that your claim is not at risk of being time-barred, speak with a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible.