Traffic accidents (or road traffic accidents) are unfortunately frequent despite the increase in road safety awareness and the safety features in modern day cars. This is because most traffic accidents are due to human error or negligence and because of this most people are familiar with the fact that if you have suffered an injury following a traffic accident that was not your fault then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
The reason why those who have suffered in traffic accidents can make a claim for compensation is that road users have a duty of care towards each other’s health and safety. This is a legal duty of care and is one of the reasons why road users are required to have insurance so that they can afford to pay out for compensation claims.
Who Can Make A Claim?
Anyone involved in a traffic accident can make a claim regardless of whether they are drivers or passengers and whether they are in a car, van, lorry, truck, bus, motorbike or on a bicycle. The most common of all traffic accidents claims are for whiplash, which is an injury to the neck, caused by the neck being strained and stretched, following a sudden impact from behind. Other common injuries sustained in traffic accidents include: cuts and scrapes, bruises, broken bones and in some cases fatalities.
To strengthen your claim following a traffic accident you should do the following:
- Take pictures of the traffic accident
- Inform the police
- Inform your insurance company
- Seek medical advice
- Note the details of any witnesses
You should bear in mind that if you are found to be even partially to blame for the traffic accident then the court could reduce the amount of damages you receive.
The amount of compensation you can receive for a traffic accident will depend on the seriousness of your injuries, known as general damages and on the amount of subsequent loss you have suffered known as special damages. You can claim compensation for anything that is a direct result of the traffic accident. Common examples include: damage to personal property, medical expenses, travel expenses, care costs and so on.
Traffic accident compensation is negotiated between personal injury solicitors and insurance companies. If you have suffered a traffic accident then you should appoint a personal injury or specialist traffic accident solicitor to deal with your claim within three years of the date of the accident otherwise you may be unable to do so without special permission from the court. If you are claiming on behalf of a child then the claim has to be brought within three years of the child’s 18th birthday (i.e. by the time they are 21).
Appointing a personal injury solicitor is simple and as you are probably already aware is free! Personal injury solicitors work on a no win no fee basis, so if your claim is successful your legal fees will be paid by the negligent party’s insurance company and if your claim is unsuccessful then your legal fees will be waived. Personal injury solicitors work on this basis for two reasons; firstly because it allows those who would otherwise not be able to afford access to justice and secondly because the solicitor can charge a success fee on the successful cases to offset their losses on the unsuccessful cases.
Although please note, if the matter goes to trial rather than being settled you will need insurance (called After the Event Insurance or ATE) to pay for the other party’s legal fees if you lose as well as your additional costs such as barrister’s fees and court fees. Your personal injury solicitor will be able to advise you on obtaining ATE insurance.