With nearly 33 million vehicles registered for use on UK roads including cars, vans, taxis, buses and lorries, it is unsurprising that road traffic accidents (RTAs) are one of the most common causes of personal injury. If you need to make a road traffic accident claim we can help.
Whether you were the driver or passenger of a car, a motorcyclist or pillion passenger, a cyclist or a pedestrian, if you have been involved in an RTA, you will no doubt have suffered from an injury. If so, you may be able to make a road traffic accident claim for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity (General Damages) and also any financial losses (Special Damages) which you have incurred as a result of your injury.
What is the procedure for a Road Traffic Accident Claim?
Once you have instructed us to proceed with your road traffic accident claim, we will send a detailed letter of claim to the Defendant and/or their motor insurers. According to the Civil Procedure Rules Pre-Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims, they will have a period of 21 days within which to acknowledge receipt of the letter of claim and then a further three months within which to complete their investigations into liability for your accident.
In order to maximise your damages, we will obtain full copies of your medical records from your treatment providers and we will instruct an independent, suitably qualified medical expert (as near to your home as possible) to examine you and to prepare a report or reports dealing with your injuries. If your road traffic accident claim is not capable of being settled straight away, we will obtain an interim payment to be offset against any future award of damages and we will ask the Defendant insurers to arrange and/or fund any treatment which you may require as a result of your injuries.
What can you claim for?
We will also work to get compensation for the following:-
- Damage to your car, motorcycle or bicycle, or your insurance policy excess if your own insurers have dealt with the repairs;
- Hire car charges;
- Past and future loss of earnings;
- Smith V Manchester awards where you are currently still working but would be at a disadvantage on the open labour market if you were to look for a new job, whether or not this was as a result of your injuries;
- Loss of pension entitlement;
- Cost of medical treatments and aids;
- Care and assistance provided by friends and family members;
- Travelling expenses;
- Damage to personal items, such as electronic equipment which is in your vehicle or pockets;
- Damage to clothing, such as expensive motorcycle helmets and leathers; and
- Physiotherapy and rehabilitation
Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) – No Win No Fee Agreement
If we feel that your road traffic accident claim has more than a 50% prospect of success we will be able to offer you a CFA.
If your claim is ultimately successful, most, if not all, of your legal costs will be recoverable from the Defendant insurers.
If, however, your road traffic accident claim is not successful, we will have taken your claim at our own risk and we will write our costs off, unless there is a policy of Legal Expenses Insurance in place which insures you against the cost of losing your claim (please see below).
Legal Expenses Insurance
This is a policy of insurance which supplements the CFA and protects you against the cost of losing your claim if, for any reason, your road traffic accident claim is unsuccessful.
At our first meeting we will ask you to check whether you have the benefit of ‘Before the Event Legal Expenses Insurance’. If you were the driver of your vehicle, you may have the benefit of legal expenses insurance attached to your motor insurance policy or, if you were an innocent passenger in a vehicle, you may be able to utilise the driver’s legal expenses insurance, such as home insurance; with bank accounts; or through your membership of a Trade Union.
If you do have the benefit of legal expenses insurance we should be able to deal with your claim under that policy and, even if your insurers try to compel you to use their panel solicitors before court proceedings are issued, they have to allow you freedom of choice of your legal representative when court proceedings are issued.
If you do not have the benefit of legal expenses insurance we can take out a policy of After the Event Legal Expenses Insurance to protect you against the risk of losing your claim. The policy premium is deferred and self-insuring. If your claim is ultimately successful we will recover this as part of your claim for legal costs from the Defendant insurers. If your claim is unsuccessful and costs are awarded against you then the insurance will cover you for these costs up to a maximum of £100,000.
Even if you believe that you were partly to blame for your accident you may still be able to claim some compensation from the insurers of the other vehicle.
If you were an innocent passenger in a vehicle which has been involved in an accident and the accident was someone else’s fault you are entitled to make a road traffic accident claim for compensation.
If the driver of the vehicle in which you were a passenger was either partly or wholly at fault for the accident your compensation will be paid by their insurers, not them personally. So, even if the driver is a friend or family member, you should not avoid claiming out of loyalty – you are entitled to compensation and they will want you to receive the compensation you deserve.
Although pedestrians do have a duty to take reasonable care for their own safety accidents do happen and in many cases the pedestrian is not at fault in any way. Unfortunately, children are particularly vulnerable.
Whether you cycle for pleasure or as a mode of transport, you will often have to ride on the road which leaves you vulnerable to accidents caused by other road users or, indeed, the poor condition of the road.
Uninsured / Untraced Drivers
The Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) is a body set up to meet the compensation for victims of uninsured or untraced drivers. Unfortunately, it is honest motorists who have to pay increased premiums to cover the costs.
If you have the misfortune to be hit by an uninsured or untraced motorist we will be happy to submit a road traffic accident claim to the MIB on your behalf.
Please note that, whilst the MIB will pay your legal costs in pursuing a claim under the Uninsured Drivers Agreement, they will not pay your legal costs in pursuing a claim under the Untraced Drivers Agreement and, therefore, we must pursue such a claim under a different funding arrangement which we will discuss with you at our initial meeting.
One of the most important things you can do following an accident is to preserve the evidence of what happened in case of any dispute over liability, even if the other party admits liability for the accident at the scene:-
- Make a note of the contact and insurance details of the other party;
- Make a note of the vehicle make, model and registration number;
- Make a note of the contact details of any witnesses to the accident;
- Report the accident to the Police, especially if anyone was injured in the accident, if you suspect that the other party has provided you with false details or if the other party fails to stop at the scene of the accident;
- Take photos of the accident scene, preferably before any vehicles are moved;
- Take photos of the damage to the vehicles involved in the accident;
- Inform your motor insurers of what has happened, even if you do not intend to make a claim on your insurance; and
- If you are injured, it is vital that you attend Accident and Emergency or your GP as soon as possible after the accident as a formal, contemporaneous medical record of your injuries may be invaluable.
All of the above information will help you with your road traffic accident claim.
You should also:-
- Keep a ‘pain diary’ recording any symptoms which you suffer from following your accident and how this affects you at home/work/school;
- Keep a record of any financial losses which you incur as a result of your accident and, wherever possible, keep receipts or documentary evidence;
- Obtain several estimates for the repairs to your vehicle.
Please remember that you are under a duty to mitigate any losses which you suffer as a result of your accident, whether that is by obtaining the treatment you need to aid your recovery or by not incurring unreasonable financial expenses.