A Guide to Claiming No-Seatbelt 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.

Introduction

If an injured driver or passenger was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of an accident, making a road traffic accident claim can be complex.

It is usually still possible to make a claim, but the amount of compensation that the claimant receives may be reduced.

The outcome of the claim and the calculation of the compensation amount rests on a key question: would the injuries have been the same if a seatbelt had been worn?

Driving without a seatbelt

What is the law regarding seatbelt use?

In the UK, drivers and passengers are required by law to wear seatbelts? although there are exceptions, such as when reversing. A driver also has responsibility for ensuring any passenger under the age of 14 is wearing a seatbelt.

How is liability apportioned?

Deciding who is liable in these types of cases is not clear cut. Both parties, the claimant and the defendant, may have been negligent to an extent.

Under common law, all drivers have a duty to exercise due care towards other road users. If another driver has breached this duty of care, and caused an accident, they are likely to be negligent.

The negligent driver would therefore be liable to pay compensation to other parties injured in the accident. This liability exists regardless of whether the other parties were wearing a seatbelt.

Contributory negligence

If the claimant was not wearing a seatbelt, the defendant could argue contributory negligence'.

A defence of contributory negligence alleges that the claimant contributed to either the accident or the severity of their injuries.

In this case specifically, the defendant is not arguing that the claimant helped to cause the accident. Instead, the defendant is arguing that, by not wearing a seatbelt, the claimant caused their injuries to be more severe.This applies to any type of injury, from whiplash to spinal damage.

According to the Road Safety Observatory, seatbelts are 45% effective at preventing serious injuries and 25% effective at preventing minor injuries in drivers.

These figures support a defendant's argument for contributory negligence'. Using a range of medical and other expert opinion, the defendant's solicitor will argue that if the claimant had worn a seatbelt, they would have suffered less serious injuries.

How is the amount of compensation decided?

If it is decided that not wearing a seatbelt had no impact on the extent of the claimant's injuries, the claimant should receive the full compensation amount for those injuries.

However, if it is demonstrated that not wearing a seatbelt did impact of the extent of the claimant's injuries, the claimant will be held partly responsible under contributory negligence'. A percentage of the total compensation amount will then be deducted.

As set out in the case of Froom v Butcher (1975), the amount deducted will depend on how significant a role the seatbelt would have played in preventing the injuries sustained, as follows:

  • If no, or virtually no, injuries would have been sustained if a seatbelt had been worn, 25 per cent will be deducted
  • If the injuries would have been less severe if a seatbelt had been worn, 15 per cent will be deducted

Do I have a no-seatbelt road accident claim?

As a basic rule, you can make a no-seatbelt road accident claim if you were injured:

  • within the last three years, and;
  • another person 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:

Check my claim

Are there any exceptions?

Even if these two points don't apply to you, you may still be able to make a claim.

It only takes a minute to find out - you can speak to a no-seatbelt road accident claim expert on 0800 612 7456.

A short call will confirm whether you have a claim. You will never be pressured into making 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.

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 no-seatbelt road accident claim on their own behalf.

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

Can I still make a no-seatbelt road accident claim after three years?

In general, a no-seatbelt road accident claim can only be made outside of the three-year limit if you were injured as a child and are still under 21, you were diagnosed within the last three years with a health condition that was caused by historic exposure, or you were fundamentally unable to make a claim within the three-year window, due to incapacity.

What if I want to make a multi-party or group claim?

A multi-party claim (sometimes referred to as a 'group claim' or a 'class action') brought by a group of people who have sustained the same or similar injuries due to the negligence of the same defendant. How you start a multi-party claim will depend on the circumstances and we recommend you speak to a solicitor for more information.

How much compensation can I claim for a no-seatbelt road accident?

The amount of money you could claim for your no-seatbelt 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 no-seatbelt 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.

What can I claim for after a no-seatbelt road 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 no-seatbelt road accident 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 head injury can be £30,000

For a more minor hand injury, in isolation, you would typically receive £3,000.

However, if you have a serious head injury and a more minor hand injury, you would typically receive £30,000 + a reduced percentage of £3,000.

Special damages, such as loss of earnings are not usually increased if you have multiple injuries.

What is the average injury compensation for a no-seatbelt 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 no-seatbelt road accident will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your no-seatbelt 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.

Is it worth claiming for multiple minor injuries?

Yes. even relatively minor injuries can result in reasonable compensation settlements, especially if you have incurred expenses or taken time off work as a result of the accident.

No-seatbelt road accident compensation calculator

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a no-seatbelt 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 no-seatbelt road accident claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long do I have to make a no-seatbelt road accident claim?

In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the no-seatbelt 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 no-seatbelt road accident claim becomes 'statute barred'.

Can I claim for a no-seatbelt 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 no-seatbelt 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 still be able to claim for a no-seatbelt road accident after the law changes in April 2020?

The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.

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 no-seatbelt 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.

How does no win, no fee work?

Under a no win, no fee agreement (known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') you can make a no-seatbelt road accident claim without having to worry about upfront legal fees. If your no-seatbelt road accident claim is unsuccessful you won't have to pay any money to your solicitor.

Our no win, no fee promise

If you have been injured and it wasn't your fault, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of making a no-seatbelt road accident injury compensation claim.

What do I pay if I win my no-seatbelt road accident claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, only 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 no-seatbelt road accident claim?

If your no-seatbelt road accident claim is not successful then you won't have to pay your solicitor any fees.

Read more about No win, no fee

Is there a penalty if I withdraw?

Under a No Win, No Fee Agreement (CFA), fees may apply if a claimant refuses to cooperate, or abandons their claim after the legal work has started, or if the claim is fraudulent.

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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No-seatbelt 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 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.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

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