The majority of car accident claims are caused by careless drivers, but that is not the only cause. Car accidents can be caused by bad roads, faulty or absent road signs or driving a poorly maintained vehicle. Whatever the reason, if you were injured in a car accident which was no fault of yours, but was caused because somebody else acted negligently or rashly, you could have the right to claim car accident compensation.
Can You Claim Car Accident Compensation?
There are many different criteria to look at when lodging a claim for car accident compensation but there are three main factors to take into consideration which are:
- Did the car accident occur within three years of lodging your claim for compensation? Under UK law there is a three-year window of opportunity which starts at the time of the accident.
- Was the car accident as a consequence of recklessness/negligence on behalf of a third party? There may be times when the claimant was partially responsible for the incident but this does not impact their legal right to claim compensation – although any award may be reduced if it is proven they were partially negligible.
- You can only claim for injuries which were sustained as a direct result of the car accident in question or where it is possible to prove that the incident made worse an existing medical condition. This particular element of a car accident claim is fairly simple to prove with a medical examination.
If you have received an injury as a consequence of a car accident, and all of the three criteria are met, then you may well have a case for claiming compensation.
Common Causes Of Car Accident Claims
While there is an array of common injuries associated with car accidents, there are many reasons why these accidents may entitle an injured persona to claim car accident compensation. These include:
- Negligence on behalf for the driver.
- Negligence on behalf of a passenger.
- Damaged road surfaces.
- Challenging weather conditions.
- Badly maintained vehicles.
- Pedestrians acting in an inappropriate manner.
- Malfunctioning equipment such as traffic lights or train crossings.
Typical Injuries Seen In Car Accident Claims
The severity of any injuries received as a consequence of a car accident play a vital role in the calculation of any compensation award. However, there are a number of more common injuries people claim compensation for which include:
- Whiplash injury
- Soft tissue injuries
- Head injuries
- Brain damage
- Spinal injuries
- Broken bones
- Fractured bones
- Burn injuries
Recently there has been a rise in the popularity of electric cars which in itself is causing some concern and confusion within the insurance industry. While the electric car insurance market is not necessarily as liquid as it could be at the moment, there is a lot to take into consideration with these specific types of vehicle. Emergency service concerns about potential electric shocks in the event that they are called to an accident involving an electric powered car is just one consideration. It does not impact the validity of a compensation claim if the vehicle was powered by electric, as opposed to diesel or petrol, as any claim will be considered after taking into account the severity of the injuries and the impact on the claimant’s life.
What To Do If You’re Involved In A Car Accident
If you’re involved in a car accident the first port of call must be to receive a medical checkup and treatment where necessary. Where there have been injuries it is also important that the police are informed which ensures that not only is there a record of your medical checkup and treatment, but also a report by the police which will likely contain useful information when pursuing a car accident claim for compensation. It will obviously depend upon the severity of the injuries but other useful actions you can take to strengthen any claim include taking photographs and witness statements. Any dash cam or CCTV footage could also be extremely useful evidence. It is also imperative that you put together a timeline of events because while in theory you have 3 years to pursue car accident compensation, time can fade memories and the events of the day in question can become a little more blurred.
Once you put together your timeline and gather evidence such as medical reports, information from the police, photographs and witness statements, you should then contact a car accident solicitor to review your case.
Proving Negligence In Car Crash Claims
The key to any successful car crash compensation claim is proving negligence by a third party which will result in liability and consideration for a compensation award. Even if a driver involved in your accident denies negligence there are a number of ways to prove this including:
- Use of CCTV
- Witness statements
In the vast majority of cases, negligence is often fairly easy to prove and it is simply a case of agreeing a mutually acceptable compensation award.
Appointing A Car Accident Solicitor To Represent You
As car accident claims are one of the most common personal injury claim types the vast majority of law firms will have experience in this area, as many solicitors will specialise in road traffic accidents and car accident claims. A car accident solicitor will be able to review medical reports and other evidence surrounding your accident and the circumstances and advise you accordingly.
If the solicitor decides you should pursue compensation they will almost certainly advise a No Win No Fee arrangement which removes the liability of paying for the law firm’s legal expenses when pursuing your car accident claim. In the event of a successful claim the solicitors company should have also agreed a success fee with you, payable from any compensation awarded, to reflect the risks they have taken.
Once you have found a car accident solicitor to take on your claim and officially appointed them to represent you, the next action will be for them to lodge the claim. The defendant will receive a copy of the claim and supporting evidence and given the appropriate time to respond. In the event that negligence is challenged, or there may be more than one party involved, bringing into play partial responsibility, the case will probably go before the courts.
In most car accident claims compensation is negotiated and agreed out-of-court which ensures that the claimant receives much-needed finance as soon as possible and the defendant is able to reduce their legal expenses and bring to an end what can be a very challenging situation for all parties.
Using The Motor Insurers Bureau
There will be occasions where the negligent third party escaped capture or they were uninsured and therefore unable to pay out on a compensation award. Thankfully, the insurance industry created the Motor Insurers Bureau which is funded by a relatively small element of all motor insurance premiums paid in the UK. This ensures that those who are eligible for car accident compensation should be paid one way or the other, through the Motors Insurers Bureau or via the defendant’s insurance company. Your car accident solicitor will inform you of the Motor Insurers Bureau and any appropriate actions required to pursue this option.
There will be instances where the claimant may have been partially responsible for a car collision and their resulting injuries. While some people are under the impression that where there is partial responsibility there is no grounds for a car crash claim, this is not true. If any other third party can also be proven to be partially responsible for the car accident then they may be liable to pay out compensation. The level of compensation will be reduced to take into account the partial responsibility but this is likely to be something that the courts will decide upon.
Some of the more common reasons for partial responsibility include:
- A degree of dangerous/reckless driving by the claimant.
- When a pedestrian steps into the road without checking first.
- If the claimant was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the car accident thereby exacerbating their injuries.
While each car crash claim, and potential shared negligence, will be considered on its own merits, if for example the claimant was found to be 20% to blame for the accident and the resulting injuries then any compensation award would be adjusted by this figure.
Car Accident Compensation
There are two main types of compensation in car accident claims which are referred to as general damages and special damages. However, before we look at these different types of compensation in more detail it is worth noting that ongoing changes to the UK regulatory environment may impact future compensation awards. Whereas for example a minor neck or soft tissue injury may attract compensation of up to £6000 pre-2019, this figure would be reduced to a maximum £450 (for soft tissue and whiplash claims only) if the UK government is able to place current pending regulations on the statute books. Therefore, if you do have a legitimate car accident compensation claim you should look to lodge you claim before the new regulations are approved.
General damages in car accident claims relate specifically to the severity of the injuries and impact on a person’s life. These will take in issues such as:
- Pain and suffering from the car accident
- Life changing injuries
- Mental trauma
There is a degree of discretion/variation available to the courts when calculating compensation which will reflect the merits of each individual case. We will cover the current guidelines on compensation awards later in this article with guidance offered by the Judicial College.
The second element of any car accident compensation claim is referred to as special damages. These are simply reimbursement of expenses relating to injuries incurred and any funding required in the future. These will take in specific issues such as:
- Medical expenses resulting from the car accident
- Future medical expenses
- Loss of earnings
- Future loss of earnings
- Additional transport expenses
- Adaptions to the home
This list is by no means exclusive but it does give a general idea of the various elements associated with special damages.
Current Car Accident Compensation Guidelines
As we mentioned above, the UK government is currently in the process of ratifying various changes to personal injury claims regulations. At this moment in time the varying degrees of car accident compensation awarded for various injuries are advised as follows:
• Minor whiplash and soft tissue injuries from £300 to £6,000 (max £450 under incoming regulations).
• Head and brain injuries from £1,675 up to £307,000.
• Back and spinal injuries from £300 up to £122,350.
• Broken bones and fractures anywhere from £300 up to £103,250.
• Burn injuries from £1800 up to potentially in excess of £79,700.
Although these are advised car accident compensation amounts they are only a guideline and typically compensation settlements will vary. If you have suffered injury in a car accident and would like to discuss making a claim for compensation with a car accident solicitor and what amount of compensation you could actually claim please contact us today.
Knock For Knock Settlements
There will be instances where both the claimant and the defendant were liable to a certain extent for a car crash and resulting injuries. In some cases this can result in what is known as a “knock for knock” settlement which means that each of the insurance companies will pay out car crash compensation to their policyholder. This ensures that the claims are settled within a relatively short space of time at minimal cost.