A Guide to Claiming Road Traffic Accident (RTA) Injury Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a car accident or road traffic accident, we can help.
This article sets out everything you need to know about making a successful road accident injury compensation claim.
UK road accident statistics
The latest data available in 2019 is data published by the Department of Transport. The data revealed that 26,610 car drivers and other road users in the UK were seriously injured or killed in road accidents in 2018.
Including more minor injuries, a total of 165,100 people suffered some level of injury on Britain's roads last year.
The 2017 National Travel Survey also revealed that 10% of adult road users had been involved in an accident. A third of these people suffered an injury.
Looking for other types of road accident?
If you are looking for more detailed information on the following types of road traffic accident, please see:
What to do after a road accident
If you have just been in a car crash, you are probably in a state of shock.
Ideally, there are some key steps to follow immediately after a car accident that will give your road accident claim the best chance of success.
However, don't worry if you haven’t done everything on the checklist. You should still be able to make a car accident claim.
Checklist - What to do immediately after a road accident:
- Do not accept liability
- Seek medical attention
- Call the police
- Write down what happened
- Take photos of everything
- If a lorry or van was involved, get the company information
- Call your insurance company
Do I have a road accident claim?
If you have been injured in a car or other accident that was not your fault, the law entitles you to claim financial compensation.
Whether you collided with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris or other stationary obstruction, such as a tree or utility pole, you can make a claim if:
- you were injured in the last three years and
- someone else was to blame (even partly).
Even if these two points don't apply to you, you may still be able to make a claim.
To get an impartial answer, speak to a legally trained adviser on 0800 612 7456.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. You will be under no obligation to start a claim with Quittance.
You can also find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker.
What if I was partly to blame?
Even at the scene of an accident, it is not always obvious which driver was responsible for the crash.
In cases where responsibility for an accident or injury is shared by both sides, it should still be possible to claim compensation. These 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 were 25% responsible for your injuries, for example, you would receive 25% less compensation.
What if there is uncertainty as to who is to blame?
There may be uncertainty over who is to blame where:
- Someone else caused the accident or injury, but their identity is unknown, e.g. a hit-and-run accident, or
- The claimant may be partly responsible for the accident or for their injuries, e,g. an injured driver who was not wearing a seatbelt.
What if the road accident was my fault?
Even at the scene of a car accident, it is not always clear who was responsible for the crash.
In these cases, claims are usually settled with a split liability agreement.
The claimant will usually still be awarded some compensation, but the compensation award will be reduced. For example, if the court decides that you were 50% responsible for your injuries, you would receive 50% less compensation.
What if a child was injured?
The 3-year rule does not apply to minors.
A claim can be pursued for anyone under the age of 18 by a parent, guardian or litigation friend. The injured child has up to the age of 21 to start a claim on their own behalf.
What if the other car driver is uninsured or untraceable?
Car accident claims are still possible even in cases where the other driver is uninsured or untraceable.
The Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) was set up to 'compensate victims of uninsured and untraceable drivers fairly and promptly'.
The amount of money you could claim for your road accident will depend on:
- the extent of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your road accident has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.
This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.
General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
What can I claim for after a road accident? (see list)
Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- Travel costs
- Costs of care
- Costs of adapting your home or car
Road accident compensation amounts
The following road accident payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Fourteenth Edition by the Judicial College.These tables are used by solicitors or by the courts as a starting point when calculating your compensation.
|Ankle injury||Minor||Minor injury with full recovery||Up to £10,960|
|Ankle injury||Moderate||Full recovery or with mild ongoing symptoms||£10,960 to £21,200|
|Ankle injury||Severe||Severe injury with permanent symptoms||£24,950 to £39,910|
|Ankle injury||Very severe||Severe and permanent disability||£39,910 to £55,560|
|Arm injury||Less serious||Fractured forearm||£5,280 to £15,300|
|Arm injury||Moderate||Serious injury with long-lasting effects||£15,300 to £31,220|
|Arm injury||Serious||Serious injury with permanent and substantial effects||£31,220 to £47,720|
|Arm injury||Severe||Severe with serious, permanent consequences||£76,650 to £104,370|
|Back injury||Minor||Full recovery within 3 months||Up to £1,950|
|Back injury||Moderate||Full recovery within 2 years||£1,950 to £6,290|
|Back injury||Moderate||Full or nearly full recovery within 5 years||£6,290 to £9,970|
|Back injury||Serious||Less severe disability||£22,130 to £30,910|
|Back injury||Serious||Ligament or disc damage with permanent symptoms||£9,970 to £22,130|
|Back injury||Severe||Chronic permanent symptoms||£30,910 to £55,590|
|Back injury||Severe||Serious injury with permanent symptoms||£59,120 to £70,490|
|Brain injury||Minor||Minimal injury with full or near-complete recovery||£1,760 to £10,180|
|Brain injury||Less severe||Good recovery with a return to work and normal social life||£12,210 to £34,330|
|Brain injury||Moderate||Resulting in a lower degree of dependence||£34,330 to £174,620|
|Brain injury||Serious||Resulting in serious disability and substantial dependence on others||£174,620 to £224,800|
|Brain injury||Severe||Very severe with the need for full-time nursing care||£224,800 to £322,060|
|Chest injury||Minor||Fractured ribs or muscle injury to the rib cage and chest||Up to £3,150|
|Chest injury||Moderate||Some permanent tissue damage but no significant long-term lung problem||£10,040 to £14,320|
|Chest injury||Serious||Damage to the chest and lungs causing some continuing disability||£24,950 to £43,710|
|Chronic pain||Moderate||Moderate pain disorder||£16,800 to £30,690|
|Chronic pain||Moderate||Moderate Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)||£22,340 to £41,860|
|Chronic pain||Serious||Serious, persisting pain disorder||£33,590 to £50,210|
|Chronic pain||Severe||Severe Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)||£41,860 to £66,970|
|Facial injuries||Moderate||Multiple fractures of facial bones||£11,890 to £19,090|
|Facial injuries||Serious||Le Fort fractures of frontal facial bones||£18,980 to £29,290|
|Facial scars||Minor||£3,150 to £10,960|
|Facial scars||Moderate||£7,270 to £23,980|
|Facial scars||Severe||£14,320 to £77,580|
|Foot injury||Minor||Common foot injury with full recovery||Up to £10,960|
|Foot injury||Moderate||Metatarsal fracture with permanent symptoms||£10,960 to £19,920|
|Foot injury||Serious||Serious, permanent injury||£19,920 to £31,250|
|Hand injury||Serious||Serious hand injury||£11,520 to £23,110|
|Hand injury||Very Serious||Very serious hand injuries||£15,620 to £27,910|
|Hand injury||Moderate||Moderate hand injury||£4,640 to £10,580|
|Neck injury||Minor||Full recovery within 3 months||Up to £1,950|
|Neck injury||Minor||Full recovery within 1 year||£1,950 to £3,470|
|Neck injury||Moderate||Full recovery within 2 years||£3,470 to £6,290|
|Neck injury||Serious||Fractures or dislocations or severe soft tissue damage||£36,240 to £44,630|
|Shoulder injury||Moderate||Fracture of clavicle||£6,290 to £10,180|
|Shoulder injury||Serious||Dislocation||£10,180 to £15,300|
|Shoulder injury||Severe||Brachial plexus damage||£15,300 to £38,280|
|Whiplash||Minor||Full recovery within 3 months||£300 to £1,950|
|Whiplash||Moderate||Full recovery within 1 year||£1,950 to £3,470|
|Whiplash||Serious||Full recovery within 2 years||£3,470 to £6,290|
|Wrist injury||Minor||Wrist fracture recovering within one year||£2,810 to £3,790|
|Wrist injury||Moderate||Taking around two years to heal completely||Up to £8,160|
|Wrist injury||Serious||Causing permanent pain and stiffness||£10,040 to £19,530|
How is compensation calculated if I have multiple injuries?
If you have sustained multiple injuries, the compensation amounts are not simply added together.
The upper bracket of the most serious injury may be considered as a starting point, with a reduced amount applied for the other less severe injuries.
General damages for a serious shoulder injury can be £15,000
For a less severe arm injury, in isolation, you would typically receive £4,000.
However, if you have a serious shoulder injury and a less severe arm injury, you would typically receive £15,000 + a reduced percentage of £4,000.
Special damages, such as loss of earnings are not usually increased if you have multiple injuries.Read more about multiple injury claims
What is the average injury compensation for a road accident claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following a road accident will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your road accident compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
See the injury table above for some examples.
I can't find my injury in the table, can I still claim?
The table is a list of the most common injuries associated with a road accident claim. You can see the full list of injury awards here: Judicial College Injury Tables.
Road accident compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a road accident injury can be complicated.
Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.
Find out what your road accident claim could be worth now:
How long does a road traffic injury claim take?
The length of time needed to secure compensation for a road traffic accident can vary considerably.
For example, a simple liability accepted injury claim could be settled in a matter of weeks. However, if liability is denied a claim can take substantially longer. Normally an injury claim takes 4 to 9 months. See:How long will my claim take?
Will I still be able to claim for a road accident after the law changes in April 2020?
The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.
You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).
In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.
What is the road accident claim process?
Once you have found a car accident solicitor to help you with your claim, your solicitor will:
- Agree the terms under which the solicitor will represent you
- Draw up a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee)
- Gather information and evidence about your accident
- Arrange a medical examination
- Review the medical report outlining your injuries
- Submit the claim notification to the defendant’s insurer via the Claims Portal
- Send a Costs and Losses form for you to list all úspecial damages
What if liability is accepted?
If the insurer accepts liability, your claim will continue in the Claims Portal according to a tight deadline protocol set by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). If required, your solicitor will try to get the insurance company to agree to fund treatment to aid your recovery.
The total claim value (general damages + special damages) is calculated. Your solicitor will use this total as the basis for the settlement negotiation.
Once a settlement figure is agreed, the insurance company has two weeks to pay your compensation.
What if liability is denied?
If liability is denied, the claim ‘falls out of the portal’. This means further investigation will need to be carried out by your solicitor.
Further correspondence will occur between your solicitor and insurance company.
If liability is subsequently accepted, the total claim value is used as the basis for the settlement negotiation.
If liability is still denied, court proceedings can begin. Only a very small percentage of claims reach this stage. Of those claims that do, most will still settle before going anywhere near a courtroom.
What if the other driver is untraceable or uninsured?
If you have been injured in a car crash or other road accident in the following situations, the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) may pay your road accident compensation:
- The driver who caused the car accident doesn't have insurance.
- The other driver left the scene before you could get their details.
The MIB is also responsible for paying compensation if you have been injured in a car accident involving a foreign vehicle.
You can claim compensation directly from the Motor Insurers Bureau, or with the help of a road accident solicitor.
If you would like to speak to a road accident specialist about your options, or are unsure as to whether you qualify for MIB road accident compensation, call us on 0800 612 7456.
Types of road accident
Road accidents can happen in many different situations. If you have been injured in a car crash or other road accident that wasn’t your fault, you should be able to make a car accident compensation claim in circumstances including:
- A rear-end collision or shunt
- An accident caused by merging traffic
- A head-on collision
Can I claim if another driver didn't cause the accident?
Car accident injury claims are commonly caused by a negligent road user's behaviour. While reckless or drunk driving causes many accidents, you can also claim compensation in cases where the accident was not caused by another road user.
You may be able to claim car accident compensation if you have been injured because the local council or transport authority failed to maintain the road condition properly. Examples include:
- A road accident caused by a pothole
- An accident caused by dangerous road conditions, like a failure to grit icy roads
- Confusing road signs or missing road signs
Whether you are an injured cyclist, motorcyclist, driver or pedestrian, if you are unsure if you are eligible to make a car accident personal injury claim, call us on 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback.
No win, no fee
No win, no fee removes the risk from making a road accident claim. If you don't win your claim, you won't have to pay your solicitor any legal fees.
Our no win, no fee guarantee
If you have been injured and someone else was to blame (even partially), our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of claiming compensation for your road accident injury.
What do I pay if I win my road accident claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your compensation is awarded. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. Your solicitor will agree a success fee with you before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my road accident claim?
If your road accident claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
How do personal injury solicitors get paid?
If your road accident claim is successful, the defendant, or their insurer, will pay the compensation and your solicitors fees.
Will my solicitor charge a success fee if I win?
Working on a No Win, No Fee basis, your solicitor will charge a success fee only if they win your claim.
You agree a success fee with your solicitor before starting your claim, and the fee is deducted from your compensation settlement. You are never out of pocket.
Caring and sensitive support
Your solicitor will handle your road accident claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:
- Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
- Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
- Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
- Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.
Will I get advice on treatment options?
As part of the road accident claims process, your solicitor can arrange a thorough and independent needs assessment. The assessment may offer advice on treatment, access to treatments and therapies not always available on the NHS and co-ordination with rehabilitation providers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists etc
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning road accident claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:
if you can claim
to start a claim
Road accident claim FAQ's
Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the car accident compensation claim.
Can I make a claim as a car passenger?
Yes. From the point of view of making a claim, whether you were driving or were a passenger does not matter.
What matters is that you were injured, and that it was not your fault.
Will my road traffic accident claim go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of road traffic accident claims are settled by law firms and insurers before going to court.
Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.
Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
Who pays the compensation for a road accident?
Car crash compensation payouts are usually settled by the defendant's insurance company. If the defendant does not have insurance (or is untraceable), compensation is paid by the Motor Insurers Bureau' (MIB).
Can I make a claim if there was no damage to the car?
Yes. Injuries such as lower back pain and whiplash can easily be sustained in a low-speed collision where there is no obvious vehicle damage. It is even possible to sustain injuries where there is no collision at all, e.g. when a driver is forced to brake suddenly.
For example, a negligent driver's conduct may cause another road user to perform an emergency stop. A collision may be avoided, but the abrupt braking could well cause a whiplash injury, particularly if your vehicle was travelling at speed.
Can I make a claim if I wasn't wearing a seatbelt?
Yes. It is usually possible to make No Win, No Fee car accident claims even in cases where the driver or passenger was not wearing a seat belt.
However, it would likely be assumed that you contributed to the seriousness of your injuries. This is known as contributory negligence. Your compensation award will be reduced (often by around 25%). This is to reflect the amount of compensation you would have got, if you had worn a seat belt and, therefore, received less serious injuries.
What should I do if my car insurer wants me to claim through them?
Some insurance companies have tried to deter genuine road traffic accident claimants from claiming the full car accident compensation payouts 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 your car accident injury claim, remember that most insurance companies are responsible to their shareholders, not to you as the injured person.
Instructing an expert road accident solicitor gives you the peace of mind that you have an independent specialist 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).
Can I claim if I had no insurance?
Maybe. As a car passenger, you can make a claim without car insurance. This is because, in most cases,car accident claim payouts are paid by the negligent car driver's insurance company, not your own insurer.
If you are a driver involved in an accident that was not your fault and you do not have insurance, the situation is more complicated. Driving without valid insurance is an offence. Whether you can still make a claim will depend on the facts of the case.
What if I didn't get the other driver's details?
If the other driver drove off without leaving their insurance details after a car accident, you may still be able to claim compensation.
Although you will be unable to make a claim against the unknown driver’s insurance company, you can claim through the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB).
What if I had a crash with a foreign-registered vehicle?
If you were injured in a car crash with a vehicle registered in another country, you may still be able to make a road accident claim.
You can submit a claim under the Motor Insurers Bureau’s (MIB) Green Card scheme. This scheme enables you to claim compensation from the MIB directly, or from the UK agent of a foreign insurance company.
What if the other driver did not have insurance or gave me false or incorrect details?
If you were injured in a car accident caused by an uninsured driver, or if the driver gave false details, you should still be able to claim for road accident compensation.
The Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) exists to provide compensation to drivers injured by an uninsured or unidentified driver.
Will a personal injury claim affect my car insurance?
If you have had an accident, even if you were not to blame, you will be obliged to report it to your insurer. Your insurer will take the accident into account when you renew your premium.
If the accident was not your fault it may still affect your premium, albeit to a lesser degree, as the insurer may see you as a higher risk than before.
If the injury claim includes a claim for repairs to your car, motorbike or other vehicle, it may also affect your renewal premium.
Making an insurance claim through your own insurance company is not advised. Claiming through an independent solicitor means that the claim will be made directly from the at-fault driver's insurance company. This approach is less likely to affect your premium.
What if the accident occurred in Scotland?
If your road traffic accident occurred in Scotland we could still help. Our expert panel includes car accident solicitors that specialise in Scottish claims.
What if I was abroad when the accident happened?
If you have been injured in a road accident whilst abroad, it will usually still be possible to make a compensation claim. However, there are a number of potential complexities that your solicitor will advise you on. These include looking into your holiday and/or car insurance cover, whether the country is an EU member state, whether you were in a packaged holiday at the time etc.
The best way to find out if you will be able to make a claim is to call us on 0800 612 7456. A solicitor will let you know where you stand. There will be no obligation to start a claim with Quittance.
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert