What happens when claims fall out of the RTA protocol?

194,477 people were injured in road traffic accidents (RTAs) in the UK in 2014, according to government figures. There is a formal protocol that sets out the procedures covering the processing of the majority of RTA personal injury claims.

This protocol is known as the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents.

The purpose of the protocol is to facilitate the efficient processing and resolution of RTA personal injury claims. The protocol imposes strict time-limits on both the person making the claim ('the claimant') and the person against whom the claim has been made ('the defendant').

This means that some claims which are commenced under the protocol are subsequently excluded from it.

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Claims excluded from the protocol

Paragraph 6.15 of the protocol sets out 4 circumstances in which claims will be excluded from the protocol. These circumstances occur where:

  1. the defendant admits liability for the accident but alleges that the claimant was contributorily negligent; or
  2. the defendant does not respond to the Claim Notification Form ('CNF') in time; or
  3. the defendant denies liability; or
  4. the defendant informs the claimant that the defendant considers that there is either insufficient information in the CNF or the claim is worth less than £1000.

As legal terminology can be confusing, it would be helpful to explain the circumstances covered by paragraph 6.15 in plain language.

Contributory negligence

If a defendant alleges that a claimant has been contributorily negligent, the defendant is saying the claimant is partly to blame for the accident and, consequently, they are to blame injury sustained by the claimant.

Claims involving allegations of contributory negligence are more difficult to deal with and take longer to resolve than claims where liability is admitted by the defendant. These claims are not suitable to proceed under the protocol.

Failure to respond to the CNF

The CNF is the document which initiates the claim on behalf of the claimant. When a defendant receives a CNF, the protocol requires that they issue a formal response to it within a specified time-limit.

Time-limits are set out in the protocol and must be adhered to by claimants and defendants if the protocol is to fulfil its intended purpose.

The defendant denies liability

When a defendant denies liability, they are stating that they are not to blame for the accident. As with cases involving alleged contributory negligence, the protocol is not suitable for this type of case.

Lack of information in the CNF

A CNF sets out the basis on which a claim is being made.

A CNF which contains inadequate information can make it very difficult or even impossible for a defendant to investigate the claim properly or comply with the time-limits laid down in the protocol.

Claims made on the basis of inadequate CNFs are excluded from the protocol.

Claims worth under £1000

Cases proceeding under the protocol must have a monetary value of at least £1000.

What happens when a claim is excluded from the protocol?

A claim which has been excluded from the protocol under rule 6.15 is not invalidated, but will instead proceed under the Pre-Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims.

This protocol has less stringent time-limits and is designed to handle claims in which liability is denied or contributory negligence is alleged.

No matter which protocol a claim proceeds under, the value of the claim will be the same.

How did your injury happen?

The claims process for a road traffic injury will depend on where and how the accident happened. Click the icons below for more information:

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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher