Guide to Road Traffic Injury Compensation
If you have been involved in a road accident for which someone else was primarily to blame, you may be entitled to claim for road accident injury compensation. According to the Department for Transport’s “Road Casualty Statistics” (2011), there were 208, 648 reported casualties attributable to road accidents in the UK during the year, many of which qualified the victims to make claims for road accident injury compensation.
Establishing Injury in a Road Accident Injury Compensation Claim
The main factor to consider prior to making a road accident injury compensation claim is that it is a claim for injury. Legally, the person making the claim must have sustained either a physical or psychological injury as a result of the accident in question. Therefore, a potential claimant cannot claim for a “near miss”, even if the other party acted in criminally negligent manner. Near misses, save for when they result in a quantifiable psychological trauma, do not offer sufficient grounds for a road accident injury compensation claim.
Establishing Negligence in a Road Accident Injury Compensation Claim
Besides an actual injury, a road accident injury compensation claim must demonstrate that your accident is due to someone else’s fault – that is, it is entirely or partly attributable to someone else’s negligence. If you feel that your accident was due to someone else’s negligence, you are justified in making a road accident injury compensation claim as negligence establishes liability. However, it is not always clear who is to blame for a road accident. For example, if you were involved in a multiple car collision, establishing liability may be less straightforward.
Road Accident Injury Compensation Claims and Contributory Negligence
In legal terms, contributory negligence applies when the injured party contributes to their injuries by disregarding obvious and known risks. The degree to which the claimant and defendant (the party being sued) is assigned negligence is measured as a percentage contribution, which is usually established by the respective party´s legal representatives and, when agreement cannot be reached by negotiation, the court. If you are considered to have contributed to your injury by a degree of 20%, for example if you have failed to wear a seat belt, awards you would receive would be reduced by this percentage amount.
Your Health and Safety Takes Precedence
Sometimes people feel that their traffic accident is not serious enough to go to hospital, only to find out that they unwittingly aggravate their injuries by not seeking immediate medical attention. It cannot be stressed enough that if you have been in a road traffic accident, it is vital to report to the casualty department of your nearest hospital – or, at the very least, make an urgent appointment to see your general practitioner. Often people mistakenly believe their accident is less severe than it actually is, and therefore fail to seek treatment. One example of this is whiplash injuries, which are common in connection with road accidents, but which may not manifest for a few hours following the accident, and progressively worsen in the next few days.
When you go to hospital or see your doctor, your visit will also be recorded in your medical records, which can later play a part in supporting your claim for road accident injury compensation.
Road Accident Injury Compensation Formalities
Provided the situation allows it, you are legally required to remain at the scene of the accident to exchange details such as names, addresses, and insurance information with the other party. If at all practicable, you will also want to take photographs of the scene of the accident, the positioning of the impacted vehicles, and anything else that can help give an accurate picture of the surrounding circumstances. You will also want to ensure to independently note the license plate numbers of the vehicles involved. Even if your accident is minor, it must still be reported to the police, as a copy of your report will serve to support your claim for road accident compensation.
Road Accident Injury Compensation – General Damages and Special Damages
When you seek road accident injury compensation, the main form of award you may be entitled to receive comes in the form of general damages. General damages compensates for the “pain and suffering” experienced due to your injury and, if applicable, any “loss of amenity” which considers the injury’s detrimental impact on your quality of life.
Beyond general damages, you may also be eligible to pursue special damages – addressing quantifiable financial losses resulting from your accident. These costs can be for a wide range of elements, such as treatment, rehabilitation, prescription drugs, specialised equipment, hiring a caretaker, and any other expenses directly associated with the injury. The special damages element of road accident injury compensation also compensates you for any loss of income, if you are unable to work due to your injuries, and any costs associated with making a road accident injury compensation claim
Car Insurance Companies and Road Accident Injury Compensation Claims
Once a negligent driver acknowledges his liability for your injuries, you may be approached directly by his car insurance company with an offer of early settlement in lieu of a road accident compensation claim. Frequently these offers are inappropriate to the level of car accident injury compensation you could expect to receive if your claim was negotiated by a solicitor or litigated in court. Inasmuch as it is always advisable to seek professional legal advice when you have been injured in a road accident for which you were not wholly to blame, it is vital that you do not agree to settle directly with a car insurance company without first consulting a solicitor.