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Being injured in a road traffic accident can be a life-changing event. In one instant, your everyday life has been thrown into a confusion of pain, distress, and upheaval – perhaps through no fault of your own.
When others are at fault for the accident, you don’t have to suffer the consequences in silence. You can take action – and Truth Legal is ideally placed to help you.
Our team of expert personal injury solicitors have helped hundreds of clients, injured in road traffic accidents, to claim compensation for the harm they have suffered. We pride ourselves on providing an ethical, honest service to all of our clients. We are based in Harrogate and Leeds with a presence in York, Manchester, and London but we assist clients nationwide.
In difficult times you need support. After an accident, help from family, friends, and specialist personal injury solicitors can make all the difference.
Unlike large ‘factory’ law firms, Truth Legal doesn’t use a ‘one size fits all’ approach to personal injury claims. We treat our clients as individuals. This means we take the time to understand your circumstances, and to work for the benefit of your case. It also means you get:
- The best possible chances of recovering the compensation you deserve
- A personal service with regular updates
- Reassurance that your claim is being handled by specialists in personal injury law.
Don’t just put up with the consequences of a road traffic accident. Contact us today to begin your personal injury claim.
Are My Injuries Serious Enough to Instruct a Solicitor?
On 31st May 2021, the government brought in reforms which dramatically changed the nature of road traffic accident claims.
Most road traffic accidents claims which involve whiplash injuries will now be dealt with via a new online portal system – the Official Injury Claims portal.
If your claim has to go through this process, there are two major implications:
- Compensation for your injuries will be valued according to a fixed tariff. These figures are based on how long your injuries last and, in general, are much lower than valuations for similar injuries sustained in other kinds of accident (to which the tariff does not apply).
- Legal costs cannot be recovered as part of the claim, meaning that Truth Legal (and many other personal injury solicitors) will be unable to provide you with legal support.
Claims must be made through the Official Injury Claims portal if all of these conditions are met:
- You are over 18
- The accident occurred on or after 31st May 2021
- Your injuries were sustained in a road traffic accident and you were a driver or passenger of a motor vehicle (not including motorbikes and scooters)
- The injuries you sustained were whiplash injuries – i.e. soft-tissue injuries of the neck, shoulders or back
- Your injuries are worth less than £5,000 and the total value of your claim is less than £10,000
The last condition can be difficult to assess, especially soon after the accident. To give you an idea of the tariff values, the basic compensation amount for whiplash injuries which last between 18 months and 2 years is £4,215. Whiplash injuries which resolve sooner than that will be worth less. This means that the vast majority of whiplash injuries will fall into the ‘under £5,000 category’ and therefore will have to be claimed through the portal.
To find out more about the 2021 whiplash reforms, read our dedicated guide and FAQ here.
Alternatively, if you would prefer a more candid overview of these ridiculous changes to the law, have a look at Andrew Gray’s rant on the 2021 whiplash reforms and why they are so bad for injured claimants.
Not every road traffic accident will have to go through the Official Injury Claims portal. You can still claim and receive legal support from Truth Legal if you were injured as a:
- Motorcyclist (or whilst riding a scooter)
- Pedestrian (or whilst on a mobility scooter or in a wheelchair)
And/or you sustained severe injuries beyond soft-tissue injuries, such as:
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Catastrophic injuries
- Development of chronic pain
The rest of the guide is aimed primarily at people whose circumstances mean that their claims will not fall into the new Official Injury Claims process. However, much of the information about the background law and general flow of a road traffic accident claim holds true, and will hopefully provide you with useful guidance.
Different Kinds of Road Traffic Accident
The UK has some of the safest roads in the world, however, there is no escaping the fact that roads are dangerous places and all road-users are at some risk of an accident.
See our road traffic accident infographic below:
The Department for Transport estimates that an all-time high of 327.1 billion vehicle miles were driven in 2017. This huge volume of traffic inevitably creates the circumstances for all sorts of different road traffic accidents to take place.
Whilst most of the information on this page can apply to any kind of road traffic accident, it may be helpful to look at some more specific types of incident.
Cars make up the vast majority of traffic on the roads. Of the 327.1 billion vehicle miles mentioned above, 78% of those were travelled by cars. It is perhaps unsurprising then that collisions involving cars are the most common kind of road traffic accident. Between July and September 2017, 57% of all casualties in road traffic accidents were car occupants.
If you were travelling in a car and you were injured in an accident, you may be able to make a claim, irrespective of whether you were the driver or a passenger. Common kinds of accident may involve another vehicle: cutting you up on a roundabout, changing lanes into your car, or reversing into your car in a car park.
If you were the driver of the car, you will be required to show that another party was at fault for the accident. If you were a car passenger instead, it is near-impossible for you to be responsible for the accident. For more information on the requirements of a claim, see ‘What does my claim need to be successful?’ below.
Accidents involving more vulnerable road-users
Although accidents involving car occupants may be most common, accidents involving more ‘vulnerable’ kinds of road-user have the potential to be more serious. You may have been involved in a road traffic accident as:
- A cyclist
- A pedestrian
- A biker, on a motorbike or scooter
If so, the lower levels of protection you have mean you are at a greater risk of suffering much more severe injuries, such as brain injuries or head injuries.
The courts recognise the increased vulnerability of these kinds of road-user. Other motorists are often expected to take more care to avoid injuring them. This may make certain aspects of your claim a bit easier to establish if you fall into one of these more vulnerable categories. More specific information on each category can be found by following the links above.
Other kinds of road traffic accident
A road traffic accident doesn’t have to involve a collision between two vehicles. They can result from a wide range of other causes, such as:
- Badly-maintained roads or hazards on the road surface (e.g. spillages).
- Defective parts of your vehicle.
- Defective safety equipment, which ordinarily would have protected you from injuries or would have reduced the severity of those injuries.
These are generally more unusual accidents than two or more vehicles colliding. They will often involve claiming against more obscure parties, such as the Highways Agency, manufacturers, or the people responsible for a spillage or obstacle to be on the road.
Why Should I Make a Personal Injury Claim?
Aren’t personal injury claims just for money-grabbers and malingerers? Absolutely not!
Personal injury claims may get bad press from some quarters but they are not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. They are intended to ‘undo’ – as far as is possible – the negative effects of your accident. You have suffered a wrong so you are legally entitled to compensation as a way of righting that wrong.
Negative effects from a road traffic accident can take many forms. Whilst the most obvious are the physical injuries which you sustained in the collision, other effects can lead to just as much harm. These include psychological symptoms, changes to your quality of life, or loss of income.
Clearly money alone cannot reverse all of the effects of an accident, but claiming personal injury compensation can be a great help in a difficult situation.
Some good reasons to make a claim after a road traffic accident include:
- Helping your recovery. For certain kinds of injury, early access to treatment can make all the difference to your recovery. However, the quickest way to obtain treatment is usually to pay for it privately, avoiding NHS waiting lists. This may be difficult, especially if money is already tight in the wake of the accident. When making a personal injury claim, funding can often be arranged through a medical agency or from the other party’s insurance company. This allows you access to treatment as quickly as possible without the financial burden.
- Financial assistance – A road traffic accident can affect many aspects of your life, including your income. If you are unable to work due to your injuries, money can be a huge source of worry and stress. Compensation can help to alleviate these worries. In certain circumstances, compensation can even be obtained before a claim is ended through ‘interim payments’.
- Making right an injustice – You didn’t ask to be injured, but through another’s poor driving or carelessness you have been forced to endure pain, suffering and other negative effects on your life. This should not go unresolved. By claiming, you can receive recognition of your ordeal and compensation for it.
- A good move in a bad situation – The unfortunate truth is that the accident has happened and that cannot be changed. You will have suffered harm from the accident whether you claim compensation or not. Claiming the compensation to which you are legally entitled will at least allow you to receive redress for your losses.
If you are unsure whether claiming compensation is morally right, our blog post may be able to set your mind at ease.
What Should I Do If I Have Been Involved In A Road Traffic Accident?
In the wake of an accident, there are several steps you can take to help your situation and lay the foundations of making a claim. It is important to avoid making some of the more common errors personal injury clients can make.
- Your health is your top priority – Getting better, and preventing your injuries from getting worse, should be your main concern in the aftermath of any accident. This means seeking medical attention and treatment where appropriate. Anything focused on a possible claim should only be done once you are sure your wellbeing is secured.
- Seeking medical attention also helps your claim – Going to your doctor or the hospital ensures you are getting the medical attention you need. However, it also helps to document the injuries you have suffered in the accident. Your GP and hospital records can then provide a good basis for supporting your claim.
- Speak to a specialist personal injury solicitor you trust – It is advisable to speak to a solicitor as early as possible. This will provide you with expert advice from the outset, something which is helpful when preparing to make a claim. The aftermath of an accident can be a very confusing time and instructing a trusted solicitor can help you in this respect too. You will often be contacted by many different organisations: your insurance company, the other driver’s insurance company, hire car companies, garages, claims management companies etc. If you appoint a solicitor at an early stage, it gives you a trusted point of contact – someone acting in your best interests – who can communicate with all of these different people on your behalf if necessary.
- Gather and keep as much evidence as you can – If you are thinking of making a claim, then evidence in these early stages is crucial. Evidence is a key part of any personal injury claim and securing it as soon as possible after the accident can greatly improve your chances of success. You may not have gathered evidence directly after the accident (something which is understandable given the situation) but there are things you can do even after some time has passed:
- Revisit the scene to take photographs if possible and it is safe to do so.
- Keep a ‘pain diary’ recording the progress of your injuries.
- Keep records, receipts and evidence of any expenses you pay, treatment you undertake, care you receive etc. See ‘What can I claim for following a road traffic accident?’ below for more information on the kinds of losses to record.
Watch out for scam callers saying that ‘their records show you have been involved in an accident’ or something similar. Nine times out of ten, their call will just be a coincidence – a blanket statement to every person at every random number they call. But it can be unnerving if you have just had an accident and a mystery caller seems to know all about it. If you are unsure whether someone contacting you is legitimately connected to your accident, you can refer them to your solicitor. Where there is a genuine reason for their call, they can discuss this with your solicitor. Otherwise you probably won’t hear from them again. This is a good way of ‘weeding out’ the time-wasters!
Our founder, Andrew Gray, ranted about receiving such a call here.
Can I Make a Claim?
The basic requirement for making a claim is that you must do so within 3 years of the date of the accident. Many different factors can affect this, however. For more detail, see: ‘What is the time limit on a claim after a road traffic accident?’ below.
But there are situations which may cause you to doubt whether you can make a claim. Here are some of the more common concerns:
I think the accident was my fault
If the accident was genuinely your fault then you will be unable to claim compensation. However, it is still worthwhile speaking to a solicitor to explore your circumstances. You might be assessing your conduct too harshly.
Also, liability for an accident can be resolved on a ‘split liability’ basis. This means that ‘fault’ for the accident is divided between the parties, usually in terms of percentages. If the two parties to an accident are both considered to be equally at fault then liability would be split 50/50 between them. If either of those parties is making a personal injury claim, they would still be able to claim compensation, but the final compensation award would be reduced by 50%. This takes into account their own share of the blame.
Naturally, this is still a compensation award. It can still help you financially with the injury and losses you have suffered. So even if you share some of the blame for a road traffic accident, making a personal injury claim may still be worthwhile.
I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt
If you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident, this does not affect your ability to claim compensation, but it may affect the amount of compensation you receive.
Wearing a seatbelt would not have stopped the accident from happening but it may have prevented or reduced the severity of your injuries. Failing to wear a seatbelt may be considered what’s called ‘contributory negligence’ on your part.
Contributory negligence essentially means your own conduct contributed to the harm you suffered in the accident. By not wearing a seatbelt, you failed to take reasonable precautions to ensure your own safety.
Just because you didn’t wear a seatbelt, however, does not mean there will be a finding of contributory negligence. A lot will depend on the kind of injuries you have suffered and the opinion of a medical expert. The expert may believe that wearing a seatbelt would have made no difference to your injuries. If so, there will be no reduction to your compensation.
Where a seatbelt would have made a difference, compensation will be reduced. This can be as much as 25% for situations where a seatbelt would have prevented your injuries altogether. There will be a lesser reduction (usually around 15%) if your injuries would only have been less severe had you been wearing a seatbelt.
The other driver drove off without leaving their details
Drivers involved in road traffic accidents are legally obliged to stop and provide their details at the scene. Failing to do so is a criminal offence. However, this does not stop it from happening.
If you were able to take the other driver’s vehicle registration, this can be used to find their insurance details (if any exist). Clearly, this is not easy to do if you just been in an accident and the other driver is leaving the scene.
You still have the possibility of bringing a claim, however. Your claim will be directed through an organisation called the Motor Insurers’ Bureau. They will attempt to track down the hit and run driver but, if they can’t trace them, they will deal with your claim in much the same way as an insurance company would – paying your compensation on a successful claim.
These kinds of claims are usually referred to as untraced driver claims.
The other driver did not have insurance or gave me false or incorrect details
You can still make a personal injury claim even if the other driver is not insured. Incorrect insurance details are not usually a problem if you have the vehicle registration as this allows the insurers of the vehicle to be tracked down.
If the vehicle is insured, but the driver was not personally insured to drive it, often the insurers of the vehicle will step in to deal with your claim anyway.
Where there is no valid insurance in place, you can make a claim through the Motor Insurers’ Bureau. They will act in a similar way to an insurance company and pay your compensation if you successfully establish your claim.
I was involved in a road traffic accident with a foreign-registered vehicle
This is another situation in which the Motor Insurers’ Bureau may become involved. If you were in the UK and a vehicle registered in a foreign country – such as a lorry – caused your accident, you may still be able to claim. The Motor Insurers’ Bureau participates what is known as a ‘green card’ system. This helps them to locate and contact the relevant insurer of the foreign vehicle.
Unlike uninsured or untraced claims, however, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau will not usually step in to deal with the claim. Instead, your claim will often be dealt with by UK-based representatives nominated by the foreign insurer.
If you would like more information on these kinds of claims, please contact us.
I was abroad when the accident happened
Road traffic accidents which occurred whilst you were abroad can also be claimed for in certain circumstances. A lot will depend on the country in which it happened.
If you are able to make a claim, it is likely to be the Motor Insurers’ Bureau or a UK-based representative of a foreign insurance company who will consider your claim.
Because these situations can be complicated, if you have been involved in a road traffic accident abroad, it is best to contact us to discuss your case.
I was in Scotland when my road traffic accident occurred.
If your road traffic accident occurred in Scotland, it is likely you will need to contact a Scottish solicitor to deal with your claim. This is because Scotland is actually a separate jurisdiction from England and Wales and has its own laws and court system.
The Scottish Law Society website can help you to find a Scottish solicitor. Remember to always make sure that the firm of solicitors in question specialise in personal injury law.
How Do I Go About Making A Personal Injury Claim Following A Road Traffic Accident?
Unless your claim falls within the scope of the Official Injury Claims process, the first step is to contact a specialist firm of personal injury solicitors to discuss your circumstances. It is important to choose the solicitors which are right for you when making a personal injury claim.
You must be assured of their experience and expertise, but your solicitors must also be people you can trust. It is not a decision to be taken lightly.
At Truth Legal, our personal injury specialists devote their skill and expertise to make every part of your claim as smooth a journey as possible. We pride ourselves on being open and fair with our clients, maintaining the highest standards of integrity.
If you would like to discuss your situation, contact us today to arrange a free initial consultation – with no obligation for you to proceed any further.
Can I Switch The Solicitors On My Case To Truth Legal?
If you are already pursuing a road traffic accident claim, it is important to remember that you can switch the solicitors on your case if you wish.
Many insurance companies – and all claims management companies – will assign your case to a law firm when you begin a claim. However, if you have not chosen your legal representatives for yourself, it is easy to feel like your case has just been placed with a firm due to business deals behind the scenes.
Your legal representatives will have a huge impact on how your case progresses – and its prospects of success – do you really want others deciding who should act for you? Often firms appointed by insurance companies and claims management companies are better equipped to process high volumes of cases than provide a specialist service to their clients.
If your legal representatives are not providing you with the service you deserve, or you are concerned that the people running your case do not have the experience or specialist knowledge to conduct your claim properly, then you should seriously consider switching your solicitors to Truth Legal.
If you have already settled your claim, it is not possible to reopen it with another law firm. However, if you are worried that your claim may not have been handled correctly – perhaps because you were advised to settle your claim too soon, or your injuries were not properly investigated – you may be able to bring a claim against your former legal representatives for professional negligence
What Happens In A Road Traffic Accident Claim?
Making a personal injury claim can feel like stepping into the unknown. What can happen in a claim changes from case to case, but the following general points will hopefully give you an overview of the process:
- Much of the claims process will involve gathering evidence to show:
- The other party was responsible for the accident; and
- The extent of the harm which the accident caused you.
- The stance taken by the other party will have a huge effect on your claim. The other party might dispute your whole claim or only certain parts of it and this can change how much evidence is needed. For example, they might accept fault for the accident but argue that some or all of your injuries were not caused by it.
- Gathering evidence means several things in reality:
- Attending independent medical examinations to support your injuries. The medical experts’ opinions will be crucial to documenting your symptoms, confirming what was caused by the accident, and detailing your prospects of recovery.
- Retaining evidence to support your other losses, such as receipts, invoices, details of care, quotes, payslips and other records of what was incurred and how much it was.
- Supporting your version of events to prove fault for the accident. This may require many different pieces of evidence, such as engineer’s reports, photographs of the vehicles, photographs of the accident scene, witness statements, reports detailing the accident location, any police reports, anything which can independently support your version of events over the other party’s.
- Most solicitors will generally recommend waiting until you have fully recovered from your injuries before settling your claim. Once you have settled a claim, you are unable to claim any more compensation for any injuries or losses caused by that accident. Therefore, you must have enough evidence to prove the full extent of the injuries and losses you have suffered. Often this can only be completed once your injuries have resolved. Our blog post: ‘When should i settle my personal injury claim?’ has more information.
- Not all cases will go to court. Most cases – probably 98% – are settled by an agreement between the parties well before a case will be heard by a judge. However, there are several reasons why it may become necessary to start court proceedings – for example, to break a deadlock between you and the other party, or to protect your right to claim when legal time limits are approaching. Even then, claims may still be resolved before an actual court hearing takes place.
What Does My Claim Need To Be Successful?
It is sometimes helpful to think of claims as being made up of various building blocks. To establish a personal injury claim successfully, all of the building blocks need to be in place.
As you are making the claim, it is up to you and your legal representatives to place the blocks. The party you are claiming against can put forward their own version of events but, either way, if you have not established the different elements of your claim, then it will not succeed.
In legal terms, the building blocks are these:
We will look at each one in turn, but to successfully establish these building blocks in your claim, you must prove your version of events (surrounding each one) as being ‘more likely than not’. This is sometimes called the ‘burden’, or ‘standard’, of proof.
This is the matter of fault for the accident. Fault and liability are not necessarily the same thing. For example, someone might be liable for an accident even if what they did might not be considered as blameworthy. But in most situations, fault and liability are very similar.
Proving liability means establishing that the party whom you hold responsible for the accident is legally responsible for it. This other party could be another road-user, the Highways Agency, or anyone else who could plausibly have caused the accident.
You must prove two things for the other party to be liable:
- That the other party owed you a ‘duty of care’
- That they breached, or failed in, this duty of care
The duty of care
The idea of a duty of care may sound a bit strange. Basically, the law imposes a duty of care on people whose actions (or failure to take appropriate action) may impact on the rights or wellbeing of someone else. Some situations which involve a duty of care are fairly obvious – a doctor owes a duty of care to their patient, for example.
With road traffic accidents, establishing a duty of care is often a lot more simple than it sounds. Road-users owe all other road-users a duty of care. A motorist’s action or inaction clearly has the potential to injure others, or to damage other people’s property.
Breach of the duty of care
The more difficult part of establishing liability is proving that there was a breach of the duty of care. This involves showing that the other party failed in their duty – that their conduct fell below the standards that the law requires of them.
For a motorist, the standard is that of the reasonably competent, average driver. This standard applies to everyone, whether they have been driving for 30 years or they are still learning to drive. If the skill and care displayed by the motorist falls below the standard then they will have breached their duty of care.
In reality, the Highway Code is often a good way of demonstrating what a reasonably competent driver would do in a given situation. For example, if a driver fails to look carefully before pulling out of a junction onto a main road, they could be said to have breached their duty of care – a reasonably competent driver would have looked carefully before making their manoeuvre. However, whether this causes an accident is another matter.
For some kinds of road-user, liability will very rarely be an issue. If you were involved in a road traffic accident as a car passenger, for example, it would take exceptional circumstances for you to be at all liable for an accident taking place. Furthermore, if the driver of the vehicle in which you were travelling was liable for the accident, you have the option of claiming against them.
Causation is the next building block of a personal injury claim, and is concerned with the consequences which were caused by breaching the duty of care. Liability may determine who was legally responsible for an incident but if no ‘harm’ can be shown to have come from it, no compensation can be claimed.
For example, pulling out onto a main road without looking is likely to be a breach of your duty of care – a reasonably competent driver would not have done it. But unless this actually causes harm to anyone, there would be no basis for a claim against you.
There is another side to causation in a personal injury claim. The accident or breach of duty must also have caused the particular harm for which you are claiming compensation (i.e. your injuries and other losses).
To illustrate, say that Steve, a passenger in a vehicle, is involved in a car crash. He suffers a back injury due to the impact. However, Steve had also broken his arm playing rugby the week before. In his personal injury claim for the accident, Steve would not be able to claim for the broken arm as the accident did not cause it. He would be able to claim for the back injury.
As an aside, if medical evidence demonstrated that Steve’s broken arm had been negatively affected by the accident in some way, perhaps by setting back his recovery time, he would be able to claim for the effect the accident had caused.
This overlaps with the final building block: damage.
You must be able to prove the extent of the harm you have suffered, in terms of your injuries and any other losses. For injuries, this will involve obtaining medical evidence.
In addition, you must be able to establish that the amount of compensation you are claiming is reasonable. With injuries, this means that you and your solicitors must be able to provide a fair valuation of your injuries. For more information on how injuries are valued, see ‘How much compensation will I get for a road traffic accident claim?’ below.
How difficult is this?
Each case has its own unique challenges. One or more of these building blocks may not be an issue in your case – for example if the other party admits liability. In another case, everything may be in dispute, requiring each element to be proved.
The requirements for establishing these building blocks may sound daunting but this is where the quality of your legal representation can make all the difference. At lot must be done to successfully bring a personal injury claim, but with experienced specialist solicitors acting for you, the chances of securing the right compensation are much greater.
How Long Do Claims Take?
Unfortunately this is difficult to answer, especially without full details of your case.
The injuries involved and the areas of dispute in a claim will vary greatly from case to case. If you have suffered severe injuries, it may take a long time for you to recover or to get enough medical evidence to allow your injuries to be accurately valued. Similarly, the other party may dispute none, some, or all of your case, affecting whether a quick settlement is possible or whether the matter has to be resolved at court.
Our Solicitor’s Advice
“Many clients ask me this question at the outset of their claim. Unfortunately, my answer always has to be the same: it is impossible to say.
At Truth Legal, we always deal with claims as quickly as possible. But the fact is that the length of your claim is almost completely determined by matters which cannot be controlled, such as your recovery time, and whether all parts of your claim are disputed or not by the other side.
If liability is admitted, it will generally make your claim quicker and smoother but, even then, timescales will be greatly affected by your injuries. Not even medical professionals can say exactly when your injuries will resolve. There could be delays in your recovery, unforeseen complications, or a medical expert may wish to review your injuries after a certain period of time.
For some very rough guidelines I would say a claim will take a minimum of 6 to 9 months. But some claims can take in excess of 2 to 3 years to fully conclude.”
What Is The Time Limit On A Claim After A Road Traffic Accident?
If you are thinking of making a personal injury claim, it is vital that you do not delay too long before starting it. This is because the law imposes time limits on all personal injury claims and if you have not settled your claim – or commenced court proceedings – within this time limit, you will be legally prevented from bringing your claim.
In general, you have 3 years in which to make a personal injury compensation claim, starting from the date of the accident. This may sound like a long time, but in reality it can run out quickly.
There are some exceptions to the general rules which may affect the actual time limit in your case, such as children would have until they are 21 to have settled their claim or issued court proceedings. Also, the courts can grant permission to allow claims which are out of time, but this is rare.
You should consult a solicitor as soon as possible if you are considering a personal injury claim. Even if you are worried that you have run out of time, it is best to seek advice on your situation. Contact Truth Legal right away to discuss your circumstances.
How Much Compensation Will I Get For A Road Traffic Accident Claim?
Compensation is meant to replace or ‘make good’ a loss you have suffered. So the greater the harm or the more losses you have suffered, the more you should receive in compensation.
Most losses can be calculated mathematically. For example, there are definite values that can be placed on the price of a physiotherapy session, or a week’s worth of lost earnings.
But what kind of value do you put on, say, a back injury? And how is the severity of the injury taken into account? After all, a head injury could cover anything from concussion to skull fractures and brain damage.
As long as your injury claim is not subject to the Official Injury Claim fixed whiplash tariff, valuing a personal injury involves looking at two general aspects of it:
- The pain and suffering which the injury has caused you.
- The effect the injury has had on your enjoyment of life.
When your solicitor looks at these factors, they have to consider what a judge might award for your injuries if your claim went to a hearing. If they cannot justify their valuations to a judge or an opposing lawyer it is very unlikely the final compensation award will match that valuation.
Our Head of Personal Injury’s Advice:
“A lot of clients that I speak to are naturally curious about what they might receive from a claim. But, unfortunately, a meaningful valuation is only possible later in the case when evidence has been gathered.
Compensation is based upon what you have lost and suffered, and evidence has to be collected to show the extent of these things. Only then can we give you an idea of the kind of compensation award you could expect.
But this is how it should be. No two cases are the same, and every client is entitled to have their injuries and losses accurately valued – taking into account the actual harm they have suffered.”
Most injury valuations have their basis in the Judicial College Guidelines. This is a useful tool, employed by solicitors and judges, to give a rough indication of how much an injury may be worth.
|Neck Injury||Description and Factors Considered||Compensation|
|Severe||At the very top of this scale will be injuries which involve paralysis of the neck and or other parts of the body, with severe headaches.
Lower down the scale will be injuries involving serious fractures with damage to the spinal discs in the neck and causing considerable disability.
At the bottom end of this bracket are cases which involve permanent, significant disability and chronic conditions caused by fractures or dislocations.
|c. £130,060 to £39,780|
|Moderate||At the upper end of the scale in this bracket, injuries may involve severe dislocations or fractures; chronic conditions with referred symptoms to other parts of the body; and very severe soft-tissue injuries. The injuries will be characterised by clearly impaired movement or function or a vulnerability to any further damage.
Cases towards the lower end of this bracket may feature moderate soft-tissue injuries where recovery has been protracted, where permanent nuisance symptoms remain, or where an ongoing vulnerability to further damage exists. Acceleration injuries of less than 5 years may also fall into this category.
|£33,750 to £6,920|
|Minor||This bracket covers cases with mainly soft-tissue injuries. At the top end will be cases where a recovery takes place within 1 to 2 years. This can also include injuries which the accident has made worse or ‘accelerated’ by 1 to 2 years.
Cases at the lower end will usually involve injuries which have resolved within a few months.
|Up to £6,920|
As an example, here are the figures for neck injuries contained within in the current guidelines (14th edition) with a description of the kinds of injuries they relate to.
However, the guidelines are only intended to be used as a starting point; any rough figure should be refined by considering:
- Compensation awards made in previous cases for similar injuries
- The unique circumstances of your injury, such as:
- How long your injury has lasted
- Periods of intense pain and how long these periods lasted
- The treatment you required
- Additional, related injuries, such as back pain connected with a neck injury
As mentioned above, the impact of the injury on your daily life should be taken into account. This includes consideration of what the injury has stopped you from doing and how your life has been altered by the injury.
Many factors are assessed in a proper injury valuation. A lot of the information considered will be unique to your circumstances. This is why Truth Legal do not bother with gimmicky claims calculators on our site.
With so much information required to make an accurate valuation, putting a figure on your injuries at an early stage of the claim, or whilst you are still suffering from symptoms, can be very difficult. Often the question of how much your injuries are worth can only be answered when you have recovered, or enough medical evidence has been gathered to support exactly what injuries the accident has caused.
Our Solicitor’s Advice:
“No amount of compensation will ever make up for suffering injuries in an accident. Sure, receiving a sizeable amount of compensation is likely to make your life easier, but I can assure you that compensation is not a lottery, not a windfall – you’re getting what you deserve. In the US, compensation payments tend to be higher than here in England and Wales.
It’s scandalous that some law firms and claims management companies use compensation calculators as clickbait. Valuing a complex personal injury claim is skilled work, requiring a great deal of time and thought. Sometimes we need to obtain the opinion of a barrister to assist with the valuing of a claim. We want to get it right, to maximise the value of a claim.”
What Can I Claim For Following A Road Traffic Accident?
Aside from your injuries, a road traffic accident will almost certainly cause you to incur other losses. These could be losses from the accident itself, such as damage to your vehicle, your clothing, or to the vehicle’s contents. More frequently, however, they will be losses which arise in the aftermath of the accident due to the effects of your injuries.
As a general rule, any losses can be included in your claim if they were caused by the accident, or they were a direct consequence of your injuries. Common categories of loss include:
- Travel expenses – for journeys made as a result of the accident.
- Medical expenses and treatment costs – you incurred in treating your injuries or helping to ease your symptoms.
- Lost earnings – you incurred as a result of being unable to work as normal.
- Care and assistance – you received to help you cope with your injuries. Even if this was provided for free by friends or relatives, you can often claim for care after a personal injury.
These are only a few examples from a wide range of potential losses. You can find out more about the different kinds of loss, by downloading our free ebook: The Ultimate Personal Injury Compensation Guide. You may be surprised at some of the types of loss an accident can cause, and which you may be able to include in your claim. For example:
- Losses due to being unable to do a job you love
- Losses from ruined career prospects or missed future opportunities
- Pension losses
- Losses to your benefits
- Ruined holidays, weddings and other events
There are some losses which you might anticipate happening in future, but which you have not actually incurred yet. In certain circumstances, you may be able to include these future losses in your claim. Just as with past losses, they must be supported with evidence and you must also prove that they will be incurred because of your accident and/or your injuries.
Including losses in a claim is a matter of gathering the evidence for them and then detailing the amounts you are claiming in a document called a ‘Schedule of Loss’. This should clearly set out how your losses have been calculated. For an example, have a look at the personal injury claim Schedule of Loss in our Legal Library.
Who Will Pay My Compensation?
Most claims arising from road traffic accidents will be dealt with by insurance companies. Motor insurance is a legal requirement for drivers in the UK so, in the majority of road traffic collisions and other incidents, there will be an insurance company in place to meet the financial and compensatory costs of the incident.
This may sound like the other driver ‘gets away with it’. And, besides increased insurance premiums, maybe they do, unless there is a separate criminal prosecution. However, claiming compensation is not about exacting revenge. It is there to right an injustice but only insofar as it helps you recover from the harm you have suffered.
Where there is no such insurer, for example in uninsured driver claims or untraced driver claims, you will be compensated by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau upon a successful claim. The Motor Insurers’ Bureau is a body which is funded through insurance premiums by all motor insurance companies operating in the UK.
When Will I Receive My Compensation?
In a successful personal injury claim, you will usually receive compensation as a single ‘lump-sum’ payment at the end. This might be after a court judgment or after a settlement has been agreed between you and the other party.
This arrangement can cause difficulties if you are struggling for money in the short-term because of the accident. A potentially large compensation payment at the end of the claim doesn’t help you to pay the bills that are due now!
Fortunately, it may be possible for you to receive smaller compensation payments whilst the case is still ongoing. These are called interim payments.
Interim payments are effectively like an advance from your final compensation. It is important to remember, however, that it is not extra compensation. If, for example, you receive an interim payment of £1,000, and then settle your claim for £4,000 in total, you will receive the remaining balance of £3,000 at the end of your claim.
Usually, interim payments will be around £1,000, although you may be able to ask for higher amounts if you have suffered severe injuries, or you are incurring significant losses.
You can request interim payments from the other party, or they may offer one themselves, but either way, they will usually only be possible in claims where liability (or fault) for the accident is not being disputed. This is because, in these cases, the other party know they will have to pay something for your compensation, and if an interim payment means you incur fewer losses in the long-run, it is often in their interests to make one.
The other party is not obliged to make interim payments, however, so even if you request one, they may not be willing to pay it. The court has the power to order an interim payment to be made – this means you may be able to apply to the court to request an interim payment, in certain situations.
Equally, you are not obliged to accept any interim payments which the other party has offered. However, you should bear in mind that rejecting an interim payment will make it difficult to claim any losses which have arisen solely due to a lack of cash flow caused by the accident.
Other kinds of compensation payment
In rare, high value cases, it is possible to be awarded periodical payments or provisional damages, rather than a lump-sum award.
More information on these kinds of compensation, as well as interim payments, can be found in our ebook: ‘The Ultimate Personal Injury Compensation Guide’, which is free to download.
Can I Make A Road Traffic Accident Claim On Someone Else’s Behalf?
In some very specific situations, it is possible for you to make a claim for someone else. It is not something which can be done for the sake of convenience, however. For example, you cannot claim on behalf of someone else just because that person does not have the time to spare.
The most common circumstances are:
- A child under the age of 18 was injured in the road traffic accident.
- The injured person lacks the mental capacity to bring the claim themselves – whether this is because of injuries suffered in the accident or not.
- The victim of the accident has died.
Making a claim on behalf of a child
A child under the age of 18 must have someone to act on their behalf to bring a claim. If you act for them, you will be known as their ‘Litigation Friend’.
Parents, or guardians, in daily contact with the child will often make the best Litigation Friends. This is so the progress of their injuries and losses can be easily tracked.
However, where a child was injured as a result of being a passenger in a vehicle that you were driving, it is better for someone else to act as their Litigation Friend. This is to prevent any ‘conflicts of interest’. As a passenger, they will have the option to claim against the insurance company of the driver of their vehicle. If you are also acting for them, this could lead to a conflict between your own interests (of avoiding a claim against your own insurance) and the best interests of the child.
You may also be able to act for someone as their Litigation Friend if that person lacks the mental capacity to claim by themselves.
Mental capacity is a complicated legal concept but, generally speaking, someone will lack mental capacity if some impairment in brain function prevents them understanding or processing information relevant to their claim. If they are unable to communicate their wishes, in whatever form, they may also be said to lack the required mental capacity.
If you are unsure about whether a loved one with a possible right to claim for a road traffic accident lacks mental capacity, contact us to discuss matters further.
Fatal road traffic accidents
No amount of compensation can make up for losing a loved one in a road traffic accident. Nor is it meant to. But compensation can help you with any financial difficulties you may face.
If your loved one was already making a personal injury claim at the time of their death, it is possible to continue it. This remains true whether your loved one’s death was connected to the accident or not.
Even if your loved one had not started a claim before they died, it may be possible for their estate to make a claim. However, to begin a claim in this way, your loved one’s death must have been caused by the road traffic accident.
In either situation, any compensation recovered will go into your loved one’s estate, so it will be up to the personal representatives (i.e. the people dealing with the estate, for example: the executors) to decide whether to begin or continue the claim. If you are acting as your loved one’s personal representative, beginning or continuing a claim will effectively put you and any other personal representatives in the role of the ‘claimant’.
A dependency claim seeks compensation in respect of the financial support which your loved one provided for you in their lifetime.
If you were financially dependent on your loved one, and they were killed as a result of a road traffic accident, you may be able to bring a dependency claim in your own name against the party responsible for the accident. This can be done in addition to any of the other possibilities described above.
Our ebook, ‘The Ultimate Personal Injury Compensation Guide’, has more detail on these different kinds of claim. Download it for free and have a look at the chapter on ‘Making or Continuing a Claim when Someone has Died’.
‘No Win, No Fee’ Road Traffic Accident Claims
When money is tight, the idea of funding a personal injury claim may put you off making one altogether. This is why Truth Legal conducts matters on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis wherever possible. When a road traffic accident was not your fault, we can offer a ‘No Win, No Fee’ Agreement in most cases, although this will not be possible for claims which have to be made through the Official Injury Claim process.
‘No Win, No Fee’ Agreements remove a potential obstacle to claiming by ensuring that, in almost all situations, you do not have to pay our fees if we are unsuccessful in your compensation claim.
With successful claims, usually but not always, a portion of your compensation award will go towards our fees. This is the normal way in which ‘No Win, No Fee’ Agreements operate. The majority of our fees are then paid by the other party’s insurance company.
Funding your claim is always explained in more detail before you start your case with us. However, you can read more about ‘No Win, No Fee’ Agreements here.
Contact Truth Legal
If you would like any more information, or you would like to discuss your circumstances in more detail, please contact us.
Truth Legal offer free initial consultation sessions. These give you time to speak to us about your case without any cost or obligation to proceed further.
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