A road accident claim has been made against me - What should I do?

Two drivers in a confrontation after a car accident

If you were involved in a road traffic collision that another driver claims was your fault, you may find yourself facing legal action. Assuming that you hold valid insurance cover, your insurance company would handle the legal claim on your behalf.

See also:

Make a road accident injury claim

How will you find out if a claim is made against you?

You will usually be notified of a claim against you by post in the form of a notification of claim, a writ or a summons. Occasionally, the Sheriff Officer or Messenger at Arms will serve court papers directly to you.

This paperwork will usually inform you that you have 21 days to notify the court of how you intend to respond to the claim. You will need to decide whether to admit liability or to defend the action.

What happens if someone makes a personal injury claim against me?

If another road user is making a claim against you, in almost all cases you are not expected to fight the claim yourself. Your insurance company will assess the claim and is responsible for paying out any compensation to the claimant if the claim has merit.

Your insurer will handle the claim

If you have received a notice of legal action, you should contact your insurance company and send them a copy of the paperwork. The Road Traffic Act requires claimants to notify the defendant's insurer of a claim relating to a vehicle collision, so your insurer will probably already be aware of the claim.

Your insurer will handle the claim from this point forward. You do not need to appoint a solicitor or try to defend the claim yourself, but you should be ready to co-operate with your insurers and their solicitors as the claim progresses.

Your insurer may have already started negotiations with the claimant. The claimant may have started the claim against you to increase their negotiating leverage, perhaps because the claimant feels that your insurance company is not moving fast enough.

Will I have to go to court?

It is unlikely that you will need to go to court. If you were genuinely responsible for the accident, your insurer may simply settle the claim. Alternatively, they may dispute the amount of damage and injuries being claimed for.

Your insurance company may feel, for example, that the other driver's car was not damaged as extensively as is claimed. The claimant may be exaggerating the level of damage or injury in order to get more compensation. In this scenario, your insurance company may instruct independent third parties to further investigate the circumstances of the accident, injury, or damage to property.

Regardless of the nature of the accident, it is likely that the two insurance companies will continue to thrash out the details between them. You may not hear anything further until your insurance company notifies you that the claim is settled.

Read more:

How often do injury claims go to court and what if they do?

What if the insurance company cannot settle the claim?

On rare occasions, insurance companies might not be able to agree on a settlement and a claim could progress to court. Even if the court finds you liable for the accident, your insurance company should still cover the full value of the claim.

Complications may occur if you did not have valid insurance at the time of the accident. In this situation, you may wish to consult a solicitor directly about your options.

Does a personal injury claim affect car insurance?

Whether your car insurance premiums will rise if a personal injury claim is made against you may depend on whether the claim has merit and you were at fault.

Claiming compensation for injuries you sustained in an accident that was not your fault should not increase your premium. In practice, insurance companies will ask you "Were you in an accident in the last X years?", not "Did you make a claim within the last X years?", so any adjustment to your premium is unlikely be affected by your decision to claim. You should check your policy for more details regarding this point.

What happened?

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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Chris Salmon, Director

Author:
Chris Salmon, Director