Car Accident Compensation Claims

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a car accident we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a car accident and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

In our guide to claiming car accident compensation:

Car accident statistics

According to the latest 2021 Department for Transport (DoT) data, there were over 150,000 road casualties, including 25,945 serious injuries, and around 1,752 fatalities in 2019.

These figures represent a very small decline (2%) since 2018. The data shows that, after decades of steady improvement, Britain's roads have not become much safer in recent years.

See also: Making a road traffic accident claim

Do I have a car accident claim?

As a basic rule, you will be eligible to make a car accident claim if your injury happened:

  • in the last three years, and;
  • someone else was to blame, and;
  • that person owed you a duty of care.
Check my claim

Do I have a claim? - Common questions

What if the road accident was my fault?

If you think you were partly responsible for the road accident or for your injury, it should still be possible to make a claim.

In these cases, claims are usually settled with a split liability agreement.

For example, if you were 50% responsible for your injuries, you would receive 50% less compensation.

Read more about when there is uncertainty as to who is to blame.

What if the driver was uninsured or untraceable?

If the driver responsible for the injury is either uninsured or untraceable, a claim can be pursued through the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB).

The MIB is an independent body that pays road accident compensation to the victims of uninsured or untraced (unidentified) drivers.

Read more

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 car accident claim on their own behalf.

Read more about claiming injury compensation on behalf of a child.

Can I claim if the car accident made an existing injury worse?

Yes, although demonstrating this can be more difficult than proving a straightforward car accident injury, so legal and medical advice should be sought as early as possible.

Can I claim if I was partly responsible for my accident?

'Contributory negligence' describes situations where the driver injured in an accident was partly responsible for ('contributed to') their injuries.

Even at the scene of an accident, it is not always obvious which driver was responsible for the crash.

Examples of contributory negligence include:

  • Where the claimant's injuries are more severe because they were not wearing a seat belt
  • Where a pedestrian crosses the road without looking and is hit by a vehicle travelling over the speed limit

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?

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 claim.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

Can I make a claim as a passenger?

Yes. From the point of view of making a claim, whether you were driving or were a passenger is immaterial. What matters is that you were injured, and that it was not your fault.

Can injured car or vehicle passengers get compensation?

How much compensation can I claim for a car accident?

The amount of money you could claim for your car 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 car 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

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

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

What can I claim for after a car accident? (see list)

Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

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.

For example:

General damages for a serious shoulder injury can be £15,000

For a less severe ankle injury, in isolation, you would typically receive £8,000.

However, if you have a serious shoulder injury and a less severe ankle injury, you would typically receive £15,000 + a reduced percentage of £8,000.

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 car 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 car accident will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your car accident compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life and your ability to work, and on the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

Can I see the complete judicial college tables?

The table above (excerpted from the Judicial College Tables) shows the most common car accident claims. To see the complete list see: Judicial College Injury Tables.

Low value car accident claims - Updated June 2021

The regulations for making a lower-value road accident claim (sometimes called 'small claims') have changed.

From 31 May 2021, some lower-value car accident claims should be made using the Ministry of Justice’s new Official Injury Claim Service online portal.

If you were injured in a vehicle, and the general damages for your injuries are likely to be under £5,000, the Official portal will be used to make your claim. The portal should also be used if the total value (general damages and special damages) for your claim is less than £10,000.

Claims for cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians and children are not affected by the new regulations.

The new process can be daunting, and we are here to help. You can still use a solicitor to calculate the value of your compensation and to help you make a low value claim through the portal.

No Win, No Fee compensation for low value car accident claims

Some solicitors are no longer assisting with lower-value claims, but we can still help you make a No Win, No Fee compensation claim for a lower-value road accident claim.

Read more:

Claiming compensation through the small claims process.

How to use the Official Injury Claim portal to claim compensation

Calculate my car accident compensation

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a car 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 car accident claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does a car injury claim take?

The length of time needed to get compensation for a car accident can vary significantly.

For example, a straightforward liability accepted road accident claim might be concluded in a matter of weeks. However, if liability is denied a claim can take significantly longer. Usually, a road accident claim takes 4 to 9 months. For more information on how long your claim could take, read: How long will my claim take?

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your car 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.

What type of injuries has Quittance assisted with?

Due to the nature of car accidents, the types of injuries suffered can range from minor scrapes and bruises to serious, lifelong disabilities.

Quittance's panel of personal injury solicitors have recovered compensation for people with injuries including:including:

  • whiplash and soft-tissue injuries
  • head injuries
  • shoulder injuries
  • arm injuries
  • leg injuries

How are fatal car accidents handled?

When a very serious road accident has caused a fatal injury, compensation may be sought by the dependants of the person who was killed in the crash.

If another driver, cyclist or pedestrian's negligent behaviour led to the fatal accident, a claim can be started within three years of the injured party's death. It is possible to make a claim even if some time has elapsed between the accident and the person's death, provided that the injuries sustained in the collision were the cause.

Although court awards for 'general damages' in respect of a fatal injury are relatively low, compared to the compensation paid for serious, life-changing harm such as paralysis or brain injury, dependants can also claim for

  • lost future earnings
  • additional costs such as for care and treatment and funeral expenses.

How long do I have to claim?

If you were an adult driver or passenger at the time of the car accident, you have three years to file a formal claim. However, solicitors recommend that you seek medical attention and legal advice as soon as possible after the crash.

Starting your claim as soon as possible ensures that evidence and witness statements can be more easily gathered, and ensures that the parties involved have plenty of time to investigate the claim.

A claim can be made on behalf of a passenger under 18 years old at any point until their 18th birthday. The child then has another three years (until their 21st birthday) to start a claim themselves.

Sometimes there are exceptional circumstances that can affect the claim limitation date. To calculate your exact limitation date see our Claim limitation date calculator.

Read more:

Making a claim on behalf of a child?

How to start a claim

Speaking to a specialist road traffic accident solicitor at an early stage should help to reduce your stress and financial burden after an accident, so you can focus on your recovery.

Starting a claim is a straightforward process. A short, no-obligation phone conversation with one of our expert road accident solicitors will let you know where you stand and answer any questions you may have.

If you decide that you would like to pursue a claim, the solicitor will send you an information pack. The pack will contain everything you need to know including details of how no win no fee works.

No win, no fee

With a no win, no fee agreement, your solicitor agrees that you will have no legal fees to pay if you do not winn your claim .

Our no win, no fee promise

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is absolutely no financial risk in making a car accident claim - even if you don't win your claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

What do I pay if I win my car 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%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my car accident claim?

If your car accident claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees . Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

How do personal injury solicitors get paid?

If your car accident claim is successful, the defendant, or their insurer, will pay the compensation and your solicitors fees.

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and 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 376 1001 or arrange a callback:

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Car accident injury FAQ's

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by Quittance’s solicitor panel are settled out of 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.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

Can I make a claim if there was no damage to the car?

Yes. Injuries can be sustained in a low-speed collision where there is no 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 still possible to make a claim if you were 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.

Read more about claims for road accident compensation without a seatbelt.

What should I do if my insurer wants me to claim through them?

Some insurance companies have tried to deter genuine road traffic accident claimants 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 your road accident 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 the road condition caused my accident?

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a pothole, poorly maintained road or defective road furniture like a speed bump or level crossing, you may be able to claim compensation against the highways authority or local council responsible for the maintenance of the road.

The key issue with defects like potholes or ice on the road is the question of whether the authority negligently failed to act in good time to rectify the problem. In some cases, it may be possible to claim for an accident caused by oil on the road, if you can identify the party responsible for the spill.

Proving negligence will often depend on the facts of the case, and road condition-related claims can sometimes be difficult to win. A solicitor will be able to advise further as to whether you have a strong case.

Can I still claim if the other driver denies liability?

If the driver, pedestrian or cyclist that you believe caused the accident does not accept blame, you can still usually make a claim. In these circumstances, the claims process could take longer to resolve.

A driver will sometimes admit fault at the scene of an accident but change their story later. Your solicitor will work with you to gather the necessary evidence to prove your account of events, including photos, CCTV footage and physical evidence, police reports, and witness statements.

Faced with the evidence, the other side's insurance company is likely to accept liability and negotiate a settlement. Court action is rarely necessary, as insurance companies generally prefer to avoid the higher legal costs of fighting a case in court.

What if the accident involved multiple vehicles?

In situations where there are numerous cars involved (sometimes referred to as 'concertina collisions'), it can often be difficult to apportion blame.

In heavy traffic, it is entirely possible that the person responsible, such as a driver braking unexpectedly, may not even be involved in the accident itself.

It may be that the negligent driver's actions caused the driver behind them to break suddenly too, triggering the pile-up.

Calculating blame and compensation payouts for a multi-car accident

Compensation is dependent on the circumstances of the accident and the involvement of the claimant.

For example, if a claimant is hit from behind and forced into the car in front, through no fault of their own, they would receive a larger compensation sum than they would get if they were partly responsible.

If a claimant sees an accident ahead and is unable to stop their vehicle in time to prevent a collision with the car in front, because they were driving to close to the vehicle ahead, then the claimant's compensation may be reduced. They would be considered partly responsible for the pile up and for their own injuries.

Legal advice should always be sought to assess the chances of the claim being successful under such relatively complex circumstances.

Can I claim if the accident was caused by a vehicle fault?

Over half of all road accidents are caused by driver error. In some cases, however, a vehicle fault can either cause or contribute to a road accident.

Road users have a duty to keep their vehicles in good working order, but it may be possible to claim if a mechanical malfunction is the result of the negligence of a car manufacturer or garage.

Injuries caused by faulty airbags, for example, may result in a successful claim against a car manufacturer. A garage may be responsible if they negligently fitted a damaged replacement part.

If you believe a fault may have caused a road collision, your solicitor may recommend that an independent, qualified mechanic inspect the vehicle.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher