Anybody injured in a road traffic accident has the right to be compensated for their injuries and this includes drivers, cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. Claims can also be made by passengers injured in cars, buses or taxis. If a claim is being made for a child a Litigation Friend will be required to act on their behalf. It is important to note that you have three years from the date of the accident in which to start court proceedings for a personal injury claim. If you are acting as a Litigation Friend for a minor the limitation period will be three years from the child’s eighteenth birthday.
Whatever your circumstances, your compensation lawyer is there to advise you and talk you through the process. In this guide we share what you need to know about car accident claims in order to protect yourself and your loved ones.
What should I do after a road traffic accident?
After a road traffic accident you are required by law to stop no matter how minor the collision. Stay calm and make sure everybody is safe, calling an ambulance if needed.
If there are severe injuries, damage to public property, the road is blocked, you believe drink or drugs are involved, or you suspect the collision was on purpose you must call the police. Under the Road Traffic Act 1988 you must also call the police if you hit certain animals (dogs, goats, horses, cattle, donkeys, mules, sheep and pigs). In other circumstances you do not need to report the accident to the police but it is a good idea to have the accident on record to avoid the possibility of being accused of committing an offence.
Gather essential information
It is a criminal offence to leave the scene of an accident without giving your details to anybody who has been injured or suffered damage to their vehicle or property. Your details are your name and address, the name and address of the owner of the vehicle (if this isn’t you) and the insurance details for the vehicle.
If there is nobody to give your details to then you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours in circumstances where:
- Somebody else has been injured.
- A vehicle or trailer has been damaged.
- A certain kind of animal has been injured (see above).
When talking to other people involved in the accident stay calm and polite and avoid discussing who is to blame whether or not you feel you were at fault. For the purposes of a compensation claim, and to guard against possible insurance claims against you it is sensible to gather the following evidence at the scene:
- Names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses.
- Car registration and insurance details of the parties involved
- Photographs of damaged vehicles.
- Photographs of your own injuries.
As soon as you can, make notes about the accident including details however insignificant they may seem.
Speak to your insurers
Even if you aren’t planning to make an insurance claim you must always report a road traffic accident to your insurer as this will almost certainly be a requirement of your policy. If you fail to do so and your insurance company find out about the accident, your insurance could become invalid.
Never agree to ‘cash-in-hand’ settlements with other drivers because if you later find you have suffered a personal injury as a result of the car crash you will not be able to make a car accident claim. The symptoms of some injuries, such as back injuries, may not appear for several days.
Seek legal advice
If you have been injured as a result of a car crash, expert legal advice will ensure you receive fair compensation which can often be above what the insurance company has offered you.
Depending upon how severe your injury is you will receive monetary compensation to cover the emotional and physical pain and suffering incurred (general damages) and also any expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident (special damages). A lawyer may also be able to help you if your insurance company does not pay out in a timely manner or provide the coverage they promised.
Usually one driver will assume fault for a road traffic accident, but that isn’t always the case. If it isn’t clear who is at fault or the driver at fault refuses to take responsibility then it is important to seek immediate legal advice. Insurance companies always require evidence of who is at fault if nobody takes responsibility and such situations can become legally complicated.
A lawyer can increase your chance of a successful claim, and they will also advise you on the likelihood of success. There are strict time limits for submitting personal injury claims and related documents, and a lawyer can insure all the paperwork is collated and submitted on time. They can also relieve you of some stress by helping you to understand the paperwork by deciphering legal jargon.
What do I do next?
How long do I have to claim after a car accident?
After a car accident as stated previously you normally have three years from the date of the accident to submit a personal injury claim. However there are exceptions:
- Accidents abroad. In other countries time limits can be shorter than in the UK. In some circumstances, car accident claims can still be made under UK law.
- Children. Claims can be made at any time until a child is 18 years old. The three year limitation period will run from their 18th birthday.
- Criminal injuries. Where injuries are deliberately caused by somebody else there may be a separate right to claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). The time limit to claim through the CICA is two years from the incident.
- Mental capacity. When there is a lack of mental capacity to make a claim there is no time limit. If mental capacity is regained then the three year limitation period will run from that point.
What type of accidents can I claim for?
You can make a car accident claim for any accident that is the fault of another person or caused by the condition of the road which may be the fault of the local authority or highways agency. The other party’s insurance company will pay your compensation.
If your injury was caused by a hit-and-run or by an uninsured driver then your accident compensation would be paid by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).
Can I claim if I was at fault?
You may be able to claim for a road traffic accident if you were ‘partially at fault’, for example if you hit another car as a result of the condition of the road. The compensation awarded to you will reflect your partial responsibility.
Serious or life changing car accident injuries
These are road traffic accidents that have a major impact on someone’s life by causing a permanent disability, ongoing health problems or reduced life expectancy. The impact of such accidents is devastating to the person and to their close family and friends whose lives will never be the same again.
If you have suffered a serious or life changing injury a compensation lawyer will support you by taking steps including:
- Investigating the cause of the accident and establishing who is to blame.
- Gathering witness statements and police reports.
- Considering prosecution by liaising with the police and Health & Safety Executive.
- Carrying out medical investigations.
- Obtaining advice from experts including medical practitioners and engineers.
- Support with personal care and rehabilitation.
- Arranging interim compensation to pay for any bills, expenses and medical equipment needed before final compensation is received.
What can you claim for?
Depending upon the severity and consequences of your injury, including emotional and mental repercussions, you may be able to claim:
- Loss of income and potential future income.
- Out of pocket expenses. These could include transportation costs, extra living costs and other incidentals as a direct result of the injury.
- Services compensation. This pays for any professional care needed such as a home help or mental health support.
- Medical care, advice and operations.
- Equipment and aids.
- Re-housing costs. This applies if the existing home is no longer suitable due to accessibility issues.
- Vehicle adaptations.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but it is an example of how compensation can help to make life a little bit more comfortable.
It is important to keep evidence of all expenses incurred as a result of an injury including prescription forms, visits to physiotherapists, taxi receipts, cancelled holiday tickets, letters from an employer confirming lost working hours and so on. It is also a good idea to keep a diary of your emotional state, any pain and discomfort you are going through, what treatment you have received and how long each treatment session lasted. This evidence with strengthen your case and ensure you receive a fair level of compensation.
No win, no fee
Compensation lawyers often work on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis which means that there is nothing to pay if your personal injury claim is not successful and there are no upfront costs to meet.
Most of your legal fees will be paid by the person who has admitted fault for the accident with the remainder deducted from your compensation. It is important that you are kept fully updated throughout the car accident claim process so you know the likely amount of compensation you will receive in advance.
Why use QualitySolicitors Hopleys GMA for your compensation claim?
Our experienced compensation lawyers have an outstanding record in helping innocent parties to obtain maximum compensation for road traffic accidents. Whilst we know that monetary compensation cannot reverse emotional scarring, improve physical health or bring back a loved one, it can help to relieve the additional financial stress.
If you need to make a car accident claim, we will work tirelessly for you to ensure the best possible outcome. We will guide you throughout the process, explaining costs, timescales and legal jargon in plain English. When we start working for you, we promise to be available to answer all your queries and questions.
To find out how we can help, call our personal injury lawyers today on 01978 880 276
 Department for Transport, Reported road casualties in Great Britain: provisional estimates year ending June 2019, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/848485/road-casualties-year-ending-june-2019.pdf
 Insure the Box, Guide: what to do if you hit an animal, https://www.insurethebox.com/guide-what-do-if-you-hit-animal-while-driving