A Guide to Claiming Low-Velocity Road Accident Compensation

The following article sets out what you should know about making a successful "low speed" road accident compensation claim.

Introduction

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 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.

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.

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.

Alternatively you can try our Online Claim Checker.

What if I was partly to blame?

If you think you were partly responsible for the 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 low-velocity road accident claim on their own behalf.

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

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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.

How much compensation can I claim for a low-velocity road accident?

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

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.

See a list of what you can claim for:

Examples of special damages include:

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

Find out what your claim could be worth now

Assessing a claim's value at the outset can be complicated.

If you would like a FREE claim estimate with no obligation to start a claim, call 0800 612 7456.

Alternatively, our compensation calculator will give you an instant estimate of what your claim is worth.

Calculate my injury claim

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your low-velocity road accident case 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.

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 .

Read more about how no win, no fee works

How can Quittance help?

Our highly experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning road accident claims. Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.

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:

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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.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

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.

Read more about claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long will my claim take?

The length of time needed to secure compensation can vary considerably.

For example, straightforward car accident claims can settle in a matter of weeks, whereas complex medical negligence cases can take years.

Injury claims can also take longer if it is not clear who is responsible for your injury, or if liability is denied by the defendant.

Taken from average case times, this table sets out approximately how long personal injury claims take to settle:

Personal injury claim type

Estimated claim duration*

Road accident claims

4 to 9 months

Work accident claims

6 to 9 months

Medical negligence claims

12 to 36 months

Industrial disease claims

12 to 18 months

Public place or occupiers’ liability claims

6 to 9 months

MIB claims (uninsured drivers)

3 to 4 months**

CICA claims (criminal assault)

12 to 18 months**

*RTA and other claims processed through the Ministry of Justice portal can settle faster.
**Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.

Read more about how long personal injury claims take.

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?

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.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Can I get an interim compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim interim compensation payments.

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.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert