A Guide to Claiming Low-Velocity Road Accident Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a road accident we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a road accident and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
Low-velocity or low speed road traffic accidents occur when two cars collide at a speed generally around 5mph. Low velocity accidents often occur when a stationery vehicle is rear-ended by another vehicle that has failed to stop in time, for example in queuing traffic.
If you have been involved in a non-fault low-velocity impact (LVI) collision, and suffered an injury as a result, you are likely to be entitled to make a claim. However, due to the contentious nature of low-velocity accidents, proving liability for an injury is not always straightforward.
What is a "low-velocity" collision claim?
Low-velocity road accident claims have long been an difficult issue for the Courts. One of the main areas of dispute is in proving that the accident was sufficient enough to cause injury. This is a key factor in apportioning liability.
Reluctance to acknowledge an injury
In crashes at moderate or high speeds, the damage to vehicles and injury to those involved is often immediately evident. By comparison, vehicle damage in collisions at low speeds tends to be minimal or non-existent, and soft-tissue injuries, such as whiplash, are unlikely to appear until after both parties have left the scene of the accident.
When a low-velocity claim is made, the defendant and their insurers are often reluctant to agree that the claimant has suffered an injury. This should be stated in their response to the Letter of Claim. Their defence is often based on the Delta Velocity (or Delta V) principle which measures the severity of a road traffic collision.
Arguments using the Delta V principle
Using engineer reports based on the Delta V principle, a defendants solicitor can argue that the speed of the collision was not significant to exert enough force to cause the injury in question. For example arguing that whiplash can only be sustained at speeds over 10mph.
However, this scientific data is not conclusive. Other research shows that the body, in particular the head and neck, sustains more g-force than the car in low-speed impacts. Therefore, as it is not impossible for injuries to occur at lower speeds, the Courts do not rely on such evidence.
As set out in the case of Armstrong and OConnor v First York (2005), the decision often rests on the credibility of the claimant in validating their injuries.
Validating your injuries
It has been shown that impacts of as little as 5mph can cause significant injury. However, if you have suffered an injury in a low-velocity road accident your symptoms may not be immediately apparent. In the case of whiplash, for example, pain in the neck, back and arms may only manifest a few days later.
Because of this, a defendant and their insurers will often use this delay in symptoms to argue that the claim is false. To ensure this argument is not accepted by the Courts, you must have evidence to prove your injuries exist and that they were the result of the accident in question.
To assist this, a solicitor can arrange a medical assessment to confirm your injuries. This should be done as soon as possible after the accident to confirm authenticity. From this the doctor can also:
- confirm whether the symptoms are likely to have been the result of the accident
- offer a prognosis for recovery which will help in decisions over the final compensation settlement
It is essential that you also divulge any previous accidents or other injuries at this point, so that the defence cannot use these to weaken your case. In addition, it is important that your version of events is consistent and not embellished in order to prove your injuries.
If it is proven that your injuries were caused by the accident, then the at-fault driver will be liable for failing to meet their road users legal duty of care.
Do I have a low-velocity road accident claim?
It should be possible to make a low-velocity road accident claim if you sustained an injury:
- in the last three years, and;
- someone else was to blame, and;
- that person owed you a duty of care.
Find out whether you may have a claim with our Online Claim Checker:
Are there any exceptions?
Even if these two points don't apply to you, you may still be able to make a claim.
To find out for sure, speak to a legally trained adviser on 0800 612 7456.
A brief phone consultation will confirm whether you have a claim. We will never put you under pressure to start a claim.
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.
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.
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 low-velocity road accident claim on their own behalf.
Can I still claim if I didn't report the low-velocity road accident?
If you did not report the accident it can make it more difficult to pursue a low-velocity road accident claim, but a claim may still be possible. This will depend on the circumstances of your case and on the other evidence available.
Making a successful low-velocity claim
Although the process for low-velocity claims is not as straightforward as in other road traffic accident claims, seeking the advice of an experienced solicitor can offer the best possible chance of success for genuine claimants.
The compensation amount awarded in low-velocity claims should reflect the extent of the injuries, covering any physical and financial losses.
The amount of money you could claim for your low-velocity 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 low-velocity 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 low-velocity 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
What is the average injury compensation for a low-velocity 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 low-velocity road accident will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your low-velocity 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.
Will I have to pay tax on my low-velocity road accident compensation?
If you receive financial compensation following a low-velocity road accident injury, specific legislation ensures that you do not have to pay tax on it. This is the case no matter whether the compensation is received as a lump sum or as staggered payments.
Low-velocity road accident compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a low-velocity 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 low-velocity road accident claim could be worth now:
How long does a road injury compensation claim take?
How long it can take to process a road accident claim can vary significantly.
For instance, a simple liability accepted road accident claim might be concluded in a matter of weeks. If the defendant denies liability, it could take longer. Typically, a road accident claim should take 4 to 9 months. Read more:How long will my claim take?
Will I still be able to claim for a low-velocity road accident after the law changes in April 2021?
The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2021.
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.
Caring and sensitive support
Your solicitor will handle your low-velocity 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 financial advice?
Your solicitor will be able to advise you on whether to accept a financial settlement for your low-velocity road accident claim. If you require tax planning or trust advice, the solicitor will recommend and work closely with a financial adviser.
No win, no fee
No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you any fees if your low-velocity road accident claim is unsuccessful. 'No win, no fee' is also known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA'.
No win, no fee promise
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is zero financial risk in making a low-velocity road accident claim - even if you don't win your claim.
What do I pay if I win my low-velocity 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%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my low-velocity road accident claim?
If your low-velocity road 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.
Why do most solicitors charge 25%?
25% success fees are charged by most law firms as this is the maximum fee that the Ministry of Justice allows them to charge. low-velocity road accident claims can take a solicitor hundreds of hours work and they receive nothing if the case is lost. The success fee will be subject to your individual circumstances and the actual fee may vary. Call us for more information.
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
Low-velocity road accident 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 claim.
Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?
You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.
However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.
How long do I have to make a low-velocity road accident claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the low-velocity road accident to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your low-velocity road accident claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for a low-velocity road accident after 3 years?
Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.
However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.
If you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.
There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 612 7456 to find out if you are still able to claim low-velocity road accident compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a car accident claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the 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.
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.
Can I get an early compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.
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