Car accident compensation claims

If you have been injured in a car accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

The following guide sets out what you need to know about making a car accident compensation claim.

If you have just had an accident see: Critical things to do after a road accident - checklist

How much can I claim?

Car accident statistics

According to UK Department for Transport data there were over 181,384 road casualties, including 24,101 seriously injuries, and around 1,792 fatalities in 2016.

These figures represent an increase of 4% since 2015, indicating that Britain's roads are not getting any safer.

Do I have a claim?

Do I have a claim?

If you have suffered an injury in a car accident in the last three years (longer in the case of children) and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.

Can I claim if I was partly responsible for the 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?    

How much car accident compensation can I claim?

How much can I claim?

The amount of compensation you will receive will depend on:

  • How long the injury will last
  • How serious injuries are, and,
  • Any other financial losses you have suffered, including lost wages and treatment costs

In legal terms, car accident compensation is broken down into two categories:

General Damages

General damages are awarded for “pain, suffering and loss of amenity”.

This means the general damages you get will be calculated based on the seriousness of your injury, and the specific impact that your car injury symptoms have had on your life.

Special Damages

Special damages vary depending on individual circumstances, and could include lost wages, the cost of care and physiotherapy, and any financial losses or expenses incurred.

"What can I claim for in a personal injury claim?"

Typical injuries

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

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

Fatal car accidents

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 about claiming on behalf of a child.

Unknown or uninsured driver claims

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a 'hit and run' untraceable driver, or the driver responsible for the accident did not have insurance, you may still be able to apply for compensation.

Unidentified or uninsured driver claims are handled by the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) .

The MIB scheme will pay out compensation provided that the unknown or uninsured party can still be proven to have caused the accident. You can apply directly to the MIB yourself, or with the assistance of a lawyer.

The MIB may also pay damages for accidents caused by foreign-registered drivers, under the Bureau's 'Green Card' scheme.

Read more about claimoing comensation through the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB)

No win no fee car accident claims

Legal Aid is usually not available to personal injury claimants. Solicitors now work on a No Win, No Fee basis.

No Win No Fee is an agreement (technically known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') which is entered into between a claimant and the solicitor.

Making a No Win, No Fee injury claim following a road collision ensures that you will have nothing to pay if your claim is unsuccessful.

You can start a claim without needing to worry about upfront legal fees, with no risk that you will be out of pocket, and no hidden charges.

Compensation can be awarded to the driver or passenger of the car or any other party injured in the accident including pedestrians, motorcycle riders and cyclists.

You may also be able to make a claim if you were an innocent passenger in the car, van, bus or coach that caused the road accident.

If your case is successful, a success fee will be paid to your solicitor.  This success fee is deducted from the compensation award.

Why do most solicitors charge a 25% success fee?

Read more about how No Win, No Fee CFA works

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.

To speak to us about your claim, without obligation, call 0800 612 7456.

Meet the team

Quittance's national network of solicitors handle all types of road accident claims and have a wealth of experience in short-term, serious and life-changing injury claims. Our solicitors are chosen on the basis of their level of specialist experience and their track record in winning claims.

Click here to meet more of the Quittance Legal Services team.

Kevin Walker Serious Injury Panel Solicitor
Rakhi Chauhan Road Accident Panel Solicitor
Shahida Chaudery Complex Injury Claims Panel Solicitor

FAQ's

What impact will the impending personal injury reforms have on my clam?

The Ministry of Justice recently announced major changes to the way claims for shorter-term injuries are handled. The most significant change likely to affect road users is the significant reduction of compensation awards for whiplash and other soft tissue injuries.

For example, under the current guidelines you could claim between £2,050 and £3,630 for a neck or back soft tissue injury lasting between 4 and 6 months. Once the new injury tariffs are in place, this amount will reduce to just £450.

The small claims limit for road accident (RTA) claims is to be raised from £1,000 to £5,000. In practice, this means that most claimants whose injuries are valued at less than £5,000 will no longer be able to pursue a No Win, No Fee claim under a Conditional Fee Agreement. You will still be able to make a claim through the small claims courts, and may do so with the help of a solicitor, but you would have to pay their costs out of any compensation you received.

If you are considering claiming for a soft tissue injury, you may wish to do so before the changes come into force. Starting a claim as soon as possible also helps your solicitor gather the evidence they need to prove you claim, and can improve the chances of your claim being successful.

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 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.

What is the claims process for a car accident?

Making a car accident claim is different (and in many ways easier) than most other types of personal injury claim. The majority of road accident claims are processed using an online portal, and according to a strict timetable.

Can I claim compensation for an accident in a car park?

If a driver suddenly pulls out of a parking space without checking and collides with your car, you could be entitled to claim compensation for whiplash and other injuries.

The Highway Code states that 'before moving off you should: use all mirrors to check the road is clear, look around to check the blind spots, signal if necessary and look round for a final check' (Gov.uk).

A failure to follow these instructions before setting off is strong evidence that of a driver's negligence for the purposes of making a claim.

Can I claim for an injury from a parking incident

At the scene of the accident, it is advisable to take photographs of the incident and collect the names and addresses of any witnesses. CCTV footage from surrounding buildings could be requested from the property owner as it may have recorded the accident.

What if the injury was from a deliberate low velocity crashes?

Low-velocity car accident claims are subjected to considerable scrutiny by insurance companies. If you believe you were unknowingly involved in a 'cash for crash' accident, you may still be able to claim compensation. A solicitor will be able to give you clearer direction on the likelihood of making a successful claim.

What is a “Knock for knock” road accident?

'Knock-for-knock' refers to cases where both drivers involved in a car accident have sustained injury or other losses. The two insurance companies representing the two drivers may come to a 'knock for knock' agreement, meaning that they each pay out the losses incurred by their own policy-holder, rather than claiming those losses from the other side. The insurers may decide this regardless of who was actually responsible.

A knock-for-knock claim can seem unfair to the driver who wasn't responsible for the accident. The innocent driver may have a claim recorded against their policy, which could in turn raise their premium. Insurers often prefer settling on this basis as it avoids extra legal costs.

Read more about the difference between knock for knock and 50:50 claims.

What is the Claims Portal?

In 2010, the Government rolled out an initiative aimed at reducing the time and costs involved in running lower-value road traffic injury claims. The initiative was called the 'Road Traffic Accident Personal Injury Scheme' but it is more commonly referred to as the 'Claims Portal'.

The Claims Portal makes it easy for solicitors to enter all the information needed by the defendant's insurers and the courts to consider the case. The Portal also tracks key dates in the process, to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays.

The Claims Portal is used for claims where the value is estimated to be below £25,000. The process is designed to get qualifying claims settled in under six months.

If your car accident claim is valued at below £25,000 there is a good chance that you will receive a compensation settlement far sooner than you would have before the introduction of the portal.

How long does the road accident claims portal take?

There are three key stages when processing a claim through the Portal:

  • Investigating the claim - Your solicitor fills out a Claim Notification Form (CNF) and sends this to the defendant (the road user responsible for the accident). The defendant (or usually their insurers) must acknowledge receipt within 1 working day. The defendant then has 40 days to respond, and either admit or deny liability.

    If the defendant admits they were fully responsible for the collision, the claim proceeds to stage 2.
  • Negotiating a settlement - Independent medical evidence is used to help calculate an appropriate amount of compensation. Your solicitor sends this figure to the other side, and they then have 35 more days to negotiate this amount with you, and agree a final settlement.
  • Litigation - If the two sides cannot agree on a settlement figure, the defendant pays their final offer to you. You can then start court proceedings to recover the higher amount.

If the defendant or their insurer denies liability, or only accepts that they were partly responsible, the claim leaves the Portal time frame. Negotiations to reach a settlement may continue, or the claim may ultimately go to court.

Can I still claim if the other driver denies fault?

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 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.

What if the accident was caused by a family member?

The Courts now recognise that the emotional impact of a road accident can often be as disruptive as the physical injuries. This post-traumatic stress can be aggravated in cases where a family member was responsible for the accident.

Making a claim against a parent, sibling or partner in order to receive this compensation can be a difficult decision.

If a family member is responsible for your injury, a solicitor should understand the sensitivities. The process itself should involve the family member's insurance company and solicitor, rather than the family member personally.

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 vehicle 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.

Ask an expert

If you have any questions about the claims process or any aspect of injury compensation, let us know: