Road accident compensation claims

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Jenny Jones

Panel Senior Litigator

A guide to making a No Win No Fee low velocity road accident claim

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.

Understanding low-velocity collision claims

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 the 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.

Successful low-velocity claims

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.

For more information, or to start a claim, contact our team on 0800 612 7456 or request a callback for a more convenient time.