Posted On / 03.02.2021

FAQ - Road traffic accident claims

Head of Battens' personal injury and industrial disease teamKate Golding, talks through how a solicitor can help someone make a road traffic accident claim.

What is the process of making a road traffic accident claim?

If you are ever unfortunate enough to be involved in a road traffic accident you should, if you can, exchange details with the other drivers involved before you leave the scene.  It can also be very helpful if photographs are taken of the positions of the vehicles involved, of the damage to all vehicles involved and if contact details can be taken from anyone not directly involved who might have witnessed the accident.  

If the accident is serious, then the police will probably attend and do a lot of this for you and should then be able to provide you with any information that you require in order to start your claim.  

Any dash cam footage of the accident should also be saved, as this is becoming increasingly useful in road traffic accident claims, particularly where the parties are unable to agree exactly how the accident happened.  

If you have been injured and are not taken to hospital (where your injuries and the fact you have been in a road traffic accident will be recorded), then you should also ensure that you advise your GP about the accident and the injuries you believe you have suffered, even if you do not end up needing medical treatment or advice, so that there is a record made at or very close to the time of the accident that can be relied on should the fact of you being injured in the accident be questioned or disputed.  

Once you have as much of that information as possible (or even if you cannot obtain it), you should contact a solicitor to discuss the possibility of making a claim as soon as you feel fit enough to do so.  Whilst you would normally have 3 years from the accident date to make a claim, it is preferable if claims are started as early as possible before memories of what happened fade and when there is plenty of time to try and resolve things with the driver at fault before there is any need to involve the court.  

When you speak to a solicitor, they will be able to advise you of the options for funding your claim, which could include a no win, no fee arrangement or funding via a legal expenses insurance policy (it is useful if you check any instance policies you have for such cover before making initial contact so that as much ground can be covered at the initial meeting with your solicitor as possible), which will need to be agreed before any claim can be started.  

They will then advise you of the procedure for bringing your claim, which will initially involve telling the insurer of the driver you feel to have been responsible about your claim and the injuries and losses for which you wish to be recompensed, and then seeing whether they are willing to agree to compensate you or not.  If they are, the process will then move to obtaining independent medical expert evidence to confirm the nature, extent and cause of your injuries and financial losses.  Once that process has been completed, it is often possible to negotiate a settlement with the insurer for the negligent driver without the need for you to have to go to Court.  

What information does someone need to provide to their solicitor when making a Road Traffic Accident claim?

As above, when you initially contact a solicitor to discuss a claim, it would be useful for you to be able to provide:-  

· Your full details, a summary of the accident circumstances and the injuries and financial losses you have suffered – we will complete a questionnaire with you when you call, which will ask for all of this information.

· Details of all other drivers involved in the accident, including, if possible, names, addresses, vehicle registration numbers and insurance details

· Details of any witnesses that were not involved in the accident, but saw it happen

· Any photographs or video footage you have been able to obtain

· Details of hospitals attended and copies of any letters or medical documents you have received already relating to your injuries

· Information about any legal expenses insurance or trade union cover you may have, so that we can investigate funding options before your claim is started.

Do you have to be the driver of a car to make a road traffic accident claim?  

No – passengers in cars involved in road traffic accidents can also make claims against drivers they feel to have been at fault, even if the driver at fault was the driver of the car they were travelling in at the time.  Cyclists and pedestrians involved in collisions with cars can also make road traffic accident claims.  It is also possible to make a claim even if you know that the driver responsible was uninsured or you do not know who the responsible driver was (i.e. in a hit and run situation).  In these circumstances, it is often crucial for the accident to have been reported to the police as soon as possible after it has happened, which should therefore be done before legal advice is sought.

Are there any time limits on making a road traffic accident claim?  

A road traffic claim must have been started before the expiry of 3 years from the date of the accident in most cases (although there are some exceptions to this general rule).  However, it is never advisable to leave it right until the last minute to start your claim, but usually best if you seek legal advice as soon as you can after the accident so that evidence can be obtained and statements taken before memories fade and things are lost.

How can a solicitor help a client access medical rehabilitation?  

When a road traffic accident claim is started, a solicitor will usually invite the other driver’s insurer to consider providing rehabilitation, which is usually agreeable if that insurer admits that the accident was caused by the person it insures and often also where very serious injuries have been suffered, the need for rehabilitation is very obvious and there is every likelihood that early access to rehabilitation will improve the injured person’s long-term position such that their claim may be less expensive to settle.  If the other insurer is not so willing, but there is a clear need for early intervention, then a solicitor can make arrangements for the need to be independently assessed and will then work with the other insurer to ensure that anything identified as being necessary is accessed as early as possible.

For more information and advice on road traffic accident claims or any other personal injury claims, contact Kate Golding on 01935 846072 or email kate.golding@battens.co.uk 

Find more personal injury articles here.