Road accident compensation claims

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Mark Lampkin

Panel Road Accident Solicitor

A guide to making a No Win, No Fee road traffic accident claim

According to the Department for Transport, 22,137 people were seriously injured on Britain's roads in 2015. Many accidents not reported to the police, however, and the National Travel Survey estimates that between up to 800 thousand road users are injured annually.

If you have been injured in a road accident, whether you were a driver, passenger or pedestrian, you may be eligible to make a claim.

Drivers investigate damage after a rear-impact collision

What is a "road traffic accident"?

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;"

What does the law actually mean for you?

The Road Traffic Act 1999 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.

The law protects you whether you are 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.

Can you claim compensation for a road traffic accident (RTA)?

If you have been injured in an RTA, 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 all “road users” owe a duty of care to each other by default. 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 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.

Types of road accident claim

Car accident

The most common road traffic accidents include those where both the claimant and defendant were driving cars. As both vehicles must carry motor insurance, the two sides' insurance companies would usually prefer to negotiate a settlement between them. It is strongly recommended that a claimant seek formal legal advice from a solicitor before accepting any such offer.

Read more about car accident injury compensation claims here.

Passenger injury

It is possible to claim as a passenger in a road accident. An innocent passenger is generally entitled to claim for their injuries regardless of whether they were travelling in the car that caused the accident or another vehicle.

Read more about passenger injury compensation claims here.

Whiplash injury

Whiplash injuries are common following even relatively minor car accidents. Compensation for whiplash is often needed by an injured driver or passenger in order to pay for necessary physiotherapy. Left untreated, soft tissue injuries like whiplash can result in long-term and permanent symptoms.

Read more about whiplash injury compensation claims here.

Cycling accidents

Although cycling accidents are less common than car accidents, the injuries sustained by a cyclist injured on the road can be much more serious and varied. Proving liability can also be more complex, but it may still be possible to claim even if an injured cyclist was cycling illegally

Read more about cycling accident compensation claims here.

Motorbike accidents

Like bicycle accident claims, motorcycle injury claims are rarer but often much more serious. Motorcycle-related injuries can often be catastrophic, requiring significant and ongoing care. A specialist solicitor will work to ensure compensation is an accurate reflection of past, current and future care costs, in addition to an award for general damages.

Read more about motorcycle accident compensation claims here.

Pedestrian accidents

Pedestrians are frequently the victim of hit-a-run accidents, and this can make claiming compensation more complex. Injuries are often much more severe than those of a car driver or passenger.

Read more about pedestrian injury compensation claims here.

What if the driver is uninsured or untraceable?

Motor Insurers Bureau

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 the full compensation to which they are entitled. Insurance companies do not want you to make a claim and will try to minimise the compensation paid out if you do claim.

If you 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 for the harm that has been done.

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 is recommended by the Judicial College. These damages are based on the nature and seriousness of an injury and are laid out in the form of maximum and minimum awards. Use of the guidelines is usually adopted in Court and the majority of insurance companies will refer to them before making an offer.

Examples of road accident injury compensation awards

Head and face injuries

Facial injuries


Cheekbone fracture

£1,775 to £12,000

Jaw fracture

£4,900 to £34,600

Nose fracture

£1,300 to £17,575

Loss or damage to front teeth

£1,675 to £8,675

Multiple facial fractures

£11,300 to £18,200

Eye injuries


Minor eye injury

£3,000 to £6,650

Minor permanent damage to vision in one or both eyes

£6,925 to £15,950

Serious loss of vision in one eye

£18,000 to £30,000

Complete loss of sight in one eye

£37,450 to £41,675

Head and brain injuries


Minor brain or head injury

£1,675 to £9,700

Post-traumatic stress disorder

£3,000 to £76,500


Neck, back and shoulder injuries

Back injuries


Back injury healing in a few months

Up to £1,860

Back injury healing in up to 2 years

£1,860 to £6,000

Back injury healing in 2-5 years

£6,000 to £9,500

Serious back injury with permanent symptoms

£56,375 to £67,200

Neck injuries


Neck injury recovering completely in up to a year

£1,860 to £3,300

Neck injury recovering completely in 1-2 years

£3,300 to £6,000

Neck injury with spinal cord damage

£69,200 to £122,350

Other neck injuries

£300 to £112,750

Whiplash injuries

Read more about whiplash compensation awards here.

Shoulder injuries


Minor to severe shoulder injury

£6,000 to £36,5000

Arm and hand injuries

Elbow injuries


Serious elbow injuries

£9,575 to £41,675

Fracture of one finger

Up to £3,600

Fractured index finger with permanent symptoms

£6,925 to £9,300

Severe finger fractures

Up to £27,925

Hand injury


Minor hand injuries

£700 to £3,300

Serious hand injuries that heal completely

£4,100 to £10,100

Serious hand injuries with permanent loss of function

£22,050 to £47,050

Thumb injury


Thumb injuries healing within 6 months

Up to £3,000

More serious thumb injuries

£7,350 to £26,600

Other arm injuries


Forearm fractures

£5,000 to £14,600

More serious arm injuries with permanent symptoms

£14,600 to £99,500

Wrist injury


Wrist injury healing within 2 years

Up to £7,800

Wrist fractures and other injuries healing within 1 year

£2,675 to £3,600

Wrist injury causing permanent pain, stiffness and loss of function

£9,575 to £29,800

Leg and foot injuries

Achilles tendon


Minor achilles tendon injury

£5,525 to £9,575

Rupture, significant tendon damage or severed tendon

£9,575 to £29,200

Ankle injury


Ankle injury healing completely

Up to £10,450

Ankle injury with permanent symptoms

£10,450 to £38,050

Foot injury


Less severe foot injury with no permanent symptoms

Up to £10,450

Foot fractures with permanent symptoms

£10,450 to £19,000

Serious injury to one or both feet

£19,000 to £83,325

Knee injury


Knee injuries with no ongoing symptoms

Up to £10,450

Knee injury with mild long-term symptoms

£11,275 to £19,900

Knee injury with serious long-term symptoms

£19,900 to £33,000

Leg and knee fractures

£39,625 to £53,000

Leg injuries


Fractured femur

£6,925 to £10,700

Fractured tibia or fibula

Up to £9,000

Leg fractures or muscle injury with permanent symptoms

£13,650 to £64,275

Severe crushing injury or complicated leg fractures

£21,100 to £29,800

Toe injuries


Short-term toe injuries

Up to £7,300

Severe toe injury (such as an amputation)

£10,450 to £16,000

Traumatic loss of one or more toes

£22,800 to £42,600

Other injuries

Chest injury


Chest and lungs causing permanent symptoms

£23,800 to £41,675

Fractured ribs or muscle injury to the rib cage

Up to £3,000

Injury causing lungs to collapse

£1,675 to £4,050

Traumatic injury to the chest, lungs or heart with permanent damage and reduced life expectancy

£50,000 to £76,500


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. This is particularly true of difficult-to-diagnose injuries like whiplash, which could last anything from a few weeks to years.

What are my chances of winning a road accident injury claim?

Where the Defendant driver has acknowledged that they are responsible for the road accident, 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 a crash 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 worth trying even if some time has passed.

How does No Win, No Fee work for road traffic accident claims?

A No Win, No Fee claim starts with the injured Claimant instructing their lawyer and signing up to a CFA (or Conditional Fee Agreement). A CFA is, in essence, the terms and conditions between the solicitor and you.

The CFA 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.

Road traffic accident compensation FAQs

Can I claim if a road accident made my existing symptoms worse?

You may be able to start a claim for existing injuries or medical conditions if they have worsened due to the accident or illness. Claims for existing neck injuries worsened by a sudden collision are a common example of this.

Can I claim for treatment and care costs following a road accident?

In addition to the “general damages” award recommended for the pain and suffering you have experienced, it is also possible to claim for “special damages”. These special damages can include costs you have incurred during treatment, such as prescriptions and whiplash physiotherapy, and for ongoing care costs.

Do I need a lawyer to make an RTA claim?

Unlike most types of personal injury claim (where the claimant's decision to claim is usually the start of the process), road accident claims are often initiated by insurance companies. This is because the insurance company for the driver who caused the accident will have been quickly notified, and will want to settle the matter quickly and cheaply.

It is possible to accept an insurer's offer without consulting a lawyer, but the Law Society strongly recommend that you do work with a lawyer to handle your claim. In addition to providing critical support and advice throughout the process, a solicitor will help to negotiate a settlement that accurately reflects the severity of your injury.

Will my road accident injury claim go to court?

Liability is often readily admitted by the driver who caused the accident, and for this reason there is usually no need for a claim to go to court in order to find who was responsible for the harm. In addition, insurance companies prefer not to go to court, as this will significantly increase their costs.

Cases will rarely go to court, and usually only if the claim involves serious liability and complex factors such as split liability.

Does there have to be damage to the car to make a claim?

Vehicle damage is clear evidence that a collision took place, and may also support the claimant's version of events. There does not need to be damage to a car, however, in order to make or win a claim for personal injury.

It is possible to claim for injuries sustained even if a crash did not occur. Whiplash caused when a faultless driver has to brake suddenly to avoid a collision is a common example.

What to do next

Find out how much your road accident claim could be worth here.

When you are ready to start your compensation claim here or contact us on 0800 612 7456. If you would prefer, you can arrange a callback for a free, no-obligation consultation about your possible road accident compensation claim.