A guide to making a No Win No Fee road traffic accident claim
21,657 people were seriously injured on Britain's roads in 2013 according to Department for Transport figures. The National Travel Survey estimates that between 630 and 800 thousand casualties are injured annually, including many accidents not reported to the police.
Seeking to protect road users, the law continues to evolve. A road traffic accident is defined in the Road Traffic Act 1999 as:
"an accident resulting in bodily injury to any person caused by, or arising out of, the use of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place in England and Wales unless the injury was caused wholly or in part by a breach by the defendant of one or more of the relevant statutory provisions 1 as defined by section 53 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974;"
Find specific car accident injury compensation advice here.
What does this actually mean for you?
The act entitles you to claim compensation for your injuries if you have been a victim of an accident involving a collision with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris or other stationary obstruction, such as a tree or utility pole.
This covers you if you were a passenger, driver or pedestrian.
The law entitles you to claim for financial losses you have suffered or may suffer in the future. You can claim for loss of wages if you have had to take time off work, the cost of medical treatment and any other costs or expenses, including vehicle repairs.
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Can you claim compensation for a road traffic accident (RTA)?
If you have been injured in a road traffic accident, or 'RTA', whether you were a driver, passenger or pedestrian, you may be eligible to claim compensation.
If you have been injured, it must be established that your injury was caused by the accident. It must also be shown that the other side, the Defendant, can be held accountable for the accident.
The Courts recognise that road users owe a duty of care to each other. This includes drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. As such, it is very likely that the Defendant in a road traffic accident claim can be held responsible for your injuries.
What kinds of injury can be claimed for?
Road traffic accident injuries vary significantly in type and severity.
Quittance's panel of solicitors have helped clients claim for injuries including wrist and ankle pains, cuts and bruises from broken glass, shoulder, spleen, kidney, liver and serious back, neck and eye injuries. Whiplash is the most common road traffic accident injury.
What if you were partly responsible?
If you have been injured in an accident which you believe you were partly responsible for, you can often still make a claim for compensation.
You may also be able to claim if your injuries were made worse because of your own actions, such as not wearing a seatbelt.
In cases where responsibility for an accident or injury is shared by both sides, compensation claims are usually resolved with a split liability agreement. You will likely still be awarded some compensation, but the final amount will be reduced. If the Court decides that you are 25% responsible for your injuries, for example, you will receive 25% less compensation.
Time limits for road traffic accident claims
If the accident occurred within the last three years, you could be eligible to claim. This time limit may be waived by the Courts but only in rare circumstances.
It is recommended that you start your claim early. More evidence may be available to support your claim, such as CCTV footage and witness statements, and your solicitor will have more time to negotiate a larger settlement where possible.
Road accidents on motorways
Road safety rules are set out in the Highway Code that specifically apply to motorways. These rules are intended to reduce accidents on motorways and govern aspects of motorway use including speed limits, safe distances between vehicles, breaking down on the motorway, slow-moving traffic, poor weather conditions, overtaking and emergencies.
The Courts will consider the Defendant's conduct with respect to these rules. Evidence such as witness statements may be more difficult to obtain following a motorway accident. In the case of motorway accidents involving trucks, a device called a tachogram will have been installed on the truck to record speed, distance travelled against time and breaks.
You solicitor will be able to advise further regarding the collection of appropriate evidence for a motorway accident claim.
What if the driver is uninsured or untraceable?
Latest estimates from the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) reveal that the annual cost of uninsured driving is estimated to be £400 million per year.
It is possible to pursue a claim even if the other driver is uninsured or untraceable.
The Motor Insurers Bureau was set up to 'compensate victims of uninsured and untraced drivers fairly and promptly'. Cases put through the MIB can sometimes take a little longer and awards may be marginally less, but you can still pursue a claim if involved in an accident with an uninsured or unidentified driver.
What to do if you have you been contacted by an insurance company
Some insurance companies have tried to deter genuine victims of road traffic accidents from claiming for injuries. Insurance companies do not want you to make a claim and will try to minimise the compensation paid out if you do.
If you may have already been contacted by an insurance company offering to deal directly with the claim, remember that most insurance companies are responsible to their shareholders, not to you as the injured person.
Instructing a personal injury solicitor gives you the peace of mind that you have an independent expert on your side. A solicitor has a duty of care to you, their client, and will seek to obtain the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to.
If you pursue your claim through a solicitor you have the added reassurance of being represented by a professional regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
How could compensation help you?
Courts in England and Wales acknowledge that road traffic accidents can have a life-altering impact on an injured person and their family.
The Courts do aim, wherever possible, to return someone to the position they were in before an accident. In some cases this may be impossible, making financial compensation for treatment and ongoing care all the more important.
When calculating compensation awarded for a road traffic accident, insurance companies, solicitors and the Courts will consider:
- medical treatment and care costs
- anticipated future treatment and care
- other expenses including travel costs and property damage
- loss or reduction of mental or physical capacity
- general pain and suffering
- lost earnings during recovery
- loss of earnings if unable to return to work
How Quittance will help your road traffic accident claim
Before deciding to make a claim, an expert injury lawyer can discuss your circumstances and will run through your choices. Quittance's solicitors will be sensitive to the importance of your treatment and recovery. Subject to your wishes, they will advise you and guide the progress of your claim.
Compensation awards have been negotiated for injuries including:
- Drivers injured in collisions with other vehicles
- Passengers injured in collisions
- Cycling accidents involving buses, cars and other traffic
- Accidents involving pedestrians
- Road accidents occurring in poor weather conditions
- Accidents caused by defective brakes and poor maintenance
Road traffic accident claims advice
Your solicitor will focus on the legal work, enabling you to put your energy into recovery, and will offer clear advice throughout the claims process. If you have any concerns or questions before, during and after your road traffic accident claim, they will be able to assist.
How much compensation will you get for a road traffic accident?
Compensation for general damages are proposed by the Judicial College (formerly the Judicial Studies Board). These are updated on a frequent basis and published in the College's guidelines for personal injury awards. Compensation is based on the nature and seriousness of an injury and are laid out in the form of maximum and minimum awards.
Neck injury claims are not uncommon, but claims can also be made where an accident has 'brought forward' a health issue which would likely have happened at some point in the future.
For example, where an accident has accelerated the symptoms of problems such as arthritis, the guidelines recommend an award of general damages between £6,380 and £11,110.
Use of the guidelines is usually adopted in Court and the majority of insurance companies will refer to them before making an offer.
You may also be able to start a claim for existing injuries or medical conditions if they have worsened due to the accident or illness.
In addition to the general damages figure recommended in the Judicial College guidelines, it is possible to claim special damages for costs you have incurred during treatment and ongoing care.
How long does it take to get compensation for a road accident?
Many injury claims for road traffic accidents are relatively straightforward. Compensation is often quickly agreed without long delays.
More complicated claims, or those involving more serious injury, are likely to take longer to reach a settlement.
The greater majority of claims do not require formal Court action, meaning the Claimant is unlikely to ever need to go to Court.
It is difficult to predict exactly how long it will take to reach a final settlement, but it is not always a case of 'the sooner, the better'. In some cases it can benefit the Claimant to negotiate for longer as this can result in a higher compensation payout.
You can get a clearer idea of how long your claim should take to complete, talk to a solicitor on 0800 612 7456 or by obtaining a Compensation Report.
What are the chances of a claim being successful?
Where the Defendant has acknowledged that they are responsible, the chances of winning are high.
If liability is not accepted, or only partly admitted, it can be harder to negotiate a settlement.
In some cases, a driver may accept responsibility at the scene of an accident and then deny they caused the accident when contacted later.
You should take whatever steps you can, as soon as possible, to give your claim the best chance of success:
- report the incident to the police
- get photographic evidence of the scene and check for any CCTV footage (e.g. with local businesses)
- take photos of damage to your vehicle before it is repaired
- collect statements of any witnesses (and their names and addresses)
These steps are still worth taking even if some time has passed.
How does No Win, No Fee work for road traffic accident claims?
A No Win, No Fee claim is begun with the injured Claimant agreeing, with their injury lawyer, a CFA (or Conditional Fee Agreement).
A CFA is, in essence, the terms and conditions between the solicitor and you.
The document sets out the service the solicitor handling your case provides, and importantly, the success fee to be taken from your compensation award when your claim is successful.
Working with a Quittance personal injury solicitor, you are able to focus on your rest and recovery, knowing that you will never be out of pocket.
Get a Road Traffic Accident Compensation Claim Report
We have combined the JSB Guidelines with our solicitor panel's years of experience in order to develop the 'Compensation Claim Report' or 'CCR'. The CCR will consider your specific circumstances and give you a detailed insight into:
how much your claim may be worth
the probability of you winning your claim
how long it will take before you receive your compensation.
Obtaining a CCR is completely free and takes around 5 minutes.
Alternatively call Quittance on 0800 612 7456 for a free no obligation consultation about your claim.
Quittance is aware that potential Claimants will have specific questions when considering if you should begin a claim for compensation.
For general answers to questions concerning how injury compensation claims work, such as "How likely am I to win an injury compensation claim ", see our FAQ page.
What to do next
Your free Compensation Claim Report (CCR) considers a number of issues, including how long it could take to reach a settlement, the likelihood of the claim succeeding and how much compensation you could be awarded.