Do I need a lawyer to make a road accident claim?
Yes you do! Many insurance companies like to contact the people involved in an accident to try to settle the claim directly. They sometimes do this even after you have instructed your own solicitors. This could be your own insurer or the insurer for the driver of the other vehicle involved.
While this is allowed, there are good reasons why you should not deal with the insurer of the driver who caused your injury directly and why you should instruct a lawyer:
- The lawyer will be able to use the online ‘claims portal’ to deal with your claim. This electronic system speeds up the claim process. Provided that liability is admitted and the claim is worth £25,000 or less, it could be finalised quickly and efficiently through the portal.
- The other drivers’ insurer is likely to make you a lower offer that you are entitled to in the hope that you will settle quickly and the claim can be closed. Our own research shows that claimants receive offers which are at least 42% lower when they are not legally represented. For this reason alone it is in your best interests to instruct a lawyer to represent you.
- The other drivers’ insurer will pay your costs and expenses if you are legally represented and successful with your claim. Dealing with the insurer directly is time consuming and is not straightforward. If you do not instruct a lawyer and deal with the other drivers’ insurer yourself, you are unlikely to be able to claim back the cost of the time and effort you have to put in to settle the claim.
- A lawyer will ensure that you are properly medically examined. While it is tempting to take the first amount offered by the insurance company for a broken bone, there is a risk that this might not be your only injury which requires compensation. For example, long term pain, the risk of developing arthritis in the future, or psychological after-effects may also develop: your lawyer will ensure that the medic is alive to these issues.
If the accident was your fault, you should never make admissions to the injured person’s insurance company. You should seek legal advice to protect your financial and legal position.
No win no fee road accident claims
Previously referred to as no win no fee or CFA, a Conditional Fee Agreement is a written agreement whereby legal fees and expenses only become payable in certain circumstances. Your APIL accredited lawyer will explain to you what those circumstances are as they will depend on the type of agreement entered into.
How much compensation can I claim for a road traffic accident?
The amount of compensation you can claim depends on the type of injury you have suffered, how long it lasts and whether there are any lingering effects. A table of common injuries which people suffer in RTAs are listed below, with the range of compensation which may be payable.
In addition to compensation for your injury, you can also claim what are known as ‘special damages.’ These are usually the expenses you have had to spend as a result of your injury. These can include:
- loss of earnings;
- extra travel expenses;
- car hire;
- prescription charges;
- medical costs;
- the cost of replacing damaged clothing or spectacles, for example.
For more serious injuries, you can also claim for extra aids and equipment to help you get around, adapt your home or car, and for the cost of carers to look after you while you are injured.
|Neck injury: incomplete paraplegia or resulting in permanent spastic quadriparesis or where, despite wearing a collar 24 hours a day for a period of years, injured person still has little or no neck movement and suffers severe, intractable headaches.
||£118,240 - £130,060
|Serious fractures or damage to cervical spine discs, giving rise to disabilities which are of considerable severity. E.g. permanent damage to brachial plexus or substantial loss of movement in neck and loss of function in one or more limbs.
||£52,390 to £114,810
|Injuries causing fractures or dislocations or severe damage to soft tissues and/or ruptured tendons leading to permanent chronic conditions and significant disability. Depends on length of time during which the most serious symptoms are ameliorated, extent of treatment required and prognosis for the future.
||£36,240 to £49,090
|Fractures, dislocations which cause severe immediate symptoms, may need spinal fusion. Includes chronic conditions or serious soft tissue injuries to neck and back combined. Markedly impaired function or vulnerability to further trauma. Activities limited. Can include cases where there are pre-existing degenerative changes or where symptoms have been accelerated.
||£19,920 to £33,750
|soft tissue or wrenching-type injury & more severe type of disc lesion resulting in cervical spondylosis, serious limitation of movement, permanent or recurring pain, stiffness or discomfort and the possible need for further surgery or increased vulnerability to further trauma. Also includes injuries which may have accelerated and/or exacerbated a pre-existing condition over a prolonged period of time, usually by five years or more.
||£10,960 to £21,910
This bracket includes minor soft tissue injuries. While duration is important, other factors such as these below may affect the award:
- the severity of the neck injury;
- the intensity of pain experienced and the consistency of symptoms;
- the extent to which ongoing symptoms are of a minor nature only;
- the presence of additional symptoms in the back and/or shoulder and/or referred headaches;
- the impact of the symptoms on the injured person’s ability to function in everyday life and engage in social/recreational activities;
- the impact of the injuries on the injured person’s ability to work;
- the extent of any treatment required;
- the need to take medication to control symptoms of pain and discomfort.
|Where a full recovery takes place within a period of about one to two years. This bracket will also apply to short-term acceleration and/or exacerbation injuries, usually between one to two years.
||£3,470 to £6,920
|Where a full recovery takes place between three months and a year. This bracket will also apply to very short-term acceleration and/or exacerbation injuries, usually less than one year.
||£1,950 to £3,810
|Where a full recovery is made within three months.
||Up to £1,950 to £2,150
|Often associated with neck injuries and involving damage to the brachial plexus.
||£15,300 - £42,110
|Dislocation of the shoulder and damage to the lower part of the brachial plexus causing pain in shoulder and neck, aching in elbow, sensory symptoms in the forearm and hand, and weakness of grip or a fractured humerus leading to restricted shoulder movement. Cases of rotator cuff injury with persisting symptoms after surgery will usually fall within this bracket, as will cases of soft tissue injury where intrusive symptoms will be permanent.
||£10,180 to £16,830
|Frozen shoulder with limitation of movement and discomfort with symptoms persisting for about two years. Also soft tissue injuries with more than minimal symptoms persisting after two years but not permanent.
||£6,290 to £11,200
|Soft tissue injury to shoulder with considerable pain but almost complete recovery. Starting point will be the duration of symptoms but the severity of the original injury, the degree of pain experienced and the extent to which ongoing symptoms are of a minor nature only may justify an award in a higher or lower bracket.
|in less than two years;
||£3,470 to £6,920
|within a year;
||£1,950 to £3,810
|within three months
||Up to £1,950 to £2,150
|Injuries resulting in complete loss of function in the wrist for example, where an arthrodesis has been performed.
||£37,960 to £52,490
|Injury resulting in significant permanent disability, but where some useful movement remains.
||£19,530 to £34,340
|Less severe injuries where these still result in some permanent disability as, for example, a degree of persisting pain and stiffness.
||£10,040 to £21,480
|Where recovery from fracture or soft tissue injury takes longer but is complete, the award will rarely exceed £8,160 (£8,970 with 10% uplift).
||Rarely exceed £8,160
|An uncomplicated Colles' fracture.
||In the region of £5,920 to £6,510
|Very minor undisplaced or minimally displaced fractures and soft tissue injuries requiring application of plaster or bandage for a matter of weeks, a full or virtual recovery within up to 12 months or so.
||£2,810 to £4,160
How long do I have to claim after a road traffic accident?
Usually court proceedings must be started before the third year anniversary of the road traffic accident.
This does not mean you should wait nearly three years before seeking legal advice, though. A lot of work needs to be done before court proceedings can be issued and the later you leave it to seek advice, the more difficult it will be to find a lawyer willing to take on your claim.
If the road traffic accident happened abroad, then a different time limit will almost certainly apply which could be anything from one year to ten years, depending on location.
There are also different time limits for children, and individuals who lack legal capacity.
It is vital that you seek legal advice as early as possible to avoid running out of time to make a claim.
Can I claim for treatment and care costs following a road accident?
If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence there are a range of benefits available to you, in addition to much-needed medical treatment and financial redress.
APIL lawyers are the gateway to finding the care, financial help and benefits which will speed your recovery. They can help you to obtain the following from the negligent party or their insurers:
- Upfront payments, e.g. taxis to hospitals
- Domestic care
- Equipment and adaptations to make your life easier, while you recover e.g. wheelchair, ramps at home
- Early private medical treatment e.g. physiotherapy
- Arranging flexible return to work
- Retraining, if needed, which will give you access to future employment
Can I claim if a road accident made my existing symptoms worse?
It is possible to claim compensation for accidents which have exacerbated a pre-existing condition.
Provided that liability is admitted for the accident, it is possible to factor in the effect of exacerbated pre-existing conditions, provided that you can prove that the accident did adversely affect them. The key is to ensure that you make your lawyer aware of the pre-existing condition so that your medical evidence can take it into account.
The general rule is that the person causing the injury must ‘take the claimant as he or she finds them.’ So for example, if you have a prolapsed disc in your spine and the road traffic accident causes it to degenerate, then this could be taken this into account when calculating your compensation.
Can I make a road accident claim if it was my fault?
Was it really your fault? Make sure you tell your insurance company and/or solicitor exactly what happened.
If it was your fault, then you cannot make a claim for personal injury, but you may still need legal advice, particularly if the other people involved in the accident make a claim on your insurance if they have been injured.
- Tell your insurance company exactly what happened, and keep a note of what you have told the company;
- Take photographs of the damage to your vehicle, as well as the other vehicles involved in the accident;
- Pass on details of any witnesses
- Seek legal advice, particularly if insurers contact you direct – make no admissions to them until you have been given legal advice.
Many insurance companies like to contact the people involved in an accident to try to settle the claim directly. They sometimes do this even after you have instructed your own solicitors. This could be your own insurer or the insurer for the driver of the other vehicle involved.
While this is allowed, there are good reasons why you should not deal with the insurer directly:
- The insurer will be looking to save money and is likely to make you a low offer in the hope that you will settle quickly and the claim can be closed. Our own research shows that claimants receive offers which are at least 42% lower when they are not legally represented.
- The insurer will only pay your costs and expenses if you are legally represented. Dealing with the insurer directly is time consuming and by no means straightforward. Dealing directly will mean that you are unlikely to be able to claim back the time and effort you have to put in to settle the claim yourself.
- A legal representative will ensure that you are properly medically examined. While it is tempting to take a low amount from the insurer for a broken bone in the early days after an accident, there is a risk that this might not be your only injury which requires compensation. For example, long term pain, the risk of developing arthritis in the future or psychological after effects may also develop: your lawyer will ensure that the medic is alive to these issues.
- If the accident was your fault, you should never make admissions to the injured person’s insurance company direct: seek legal advice to protect your financial and legal liability position.
Will my road accident injury claim to go court?
Very few personal injury claims actually go to a full court hearing or ‘trial’. The majority of cases are settled out of court.
Court proceedings might have to be started, for example where the third year anniversary of the accident date is approaching, or the person who caused the accident does not admit liability or disputes the value of the claim.
Proceedings are started by lodging a claim form with the court. Even after this has been done, most claims will not go to a full trial although there might be some court applications which need to be made, to obtain vital documents, evidence, or to set a costs budget for example.
The claim will go to trial in court if both sides cannot agree either who was responsible for the accident, the extent of the injuries caused or the valuation of the compensation.
You may have to give evidence, possibly along with one or more of your experts. Your lawyer will explain the court procedures should a trial look likely.
If you were a pedestrian who was involved in an accident which involved a motor vehicle of some sort then your claim can also be dealt with through the electronic portal (see low value accident claims above) unless your injuries are sufficiently severe to mean that you are likely to receive more than £25,000 in compensation. Severe cases would include those where you have suffered multiple serious injuries where you are likely to need ongoing care or suffer a loss of earnings in the future as a result of them.
Passengers who are travelling in a vehicle involved in a road traffic accident can claim compensation from the at-fault driver. Even if it was the driver of the car in which they were travelling who caused the accident, the passengers can still claim. This applies unless the passenger contributed to the accident, of course, for example by distracting the driver or interfering with the controls in some way.
If you were a cyclist who was involved in an accident which involved a motor vehicle of some sort then your claim can also be dealt with through the electronic portal unless your injuries are sufficiently severe to mean that you are likely to receive more than £25,000 in compensation. Severe cases would include those where you have suffered multiple serious injuries, where you are likely to need ongoing care or suffer a loss of earnings in the future as a result of them.
Road rage incidents
Individuals who suffer injuries as a result of ‘road rage’ incidents can also claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). The proviso is that the vehicle must have been used intentionally to cause the injury. For example, this could include deliberately clipping a cyclist, driving onto the pavement to target pedestrians or deliberately ramming into another car. Lawyers will tend to advise that you make a CICA claim alongside a personal injury claim against the vehicle’s insurance company. The CICA would usually ask for its damages to be repaid from the personal injury compensation in the event that the claim against the insurer eventually succeeds.
Uninsured driver claims
If you are injured in a road accident and find out that the at-fault driver was uninsured, your lawyer can claim compensation for your injuries from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).
The MIB has its own rules about how the claim must be run and it is vital that you seek legal advice to avoid falling foul of its strict timetables and provisions.
The MIB runs an insurance company-backed scheme which was set up in agreement with the Government back in 1945 to ensure that those injured by an uninsured driver can be compensated for their injuries.
The MIB will cover claims against all classes of vehicle which must carry compulsory road insurance.
There are some organisations which do not need to have RTA insurance and which are not covered by the MIB’s scheme. These include vehicles owned by:
- The Crown
- NHS Trusts
- Ambulances owned by a National Health Service trust
- Education Authorities
- Primary Care Trusts
- Local Councils
- The Army
- Fire Services
- City of London
- Inner London Education Authority
to name but a few. The full list can be found in section 144 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/52/section/144.
In these circumstances, the vehicle’s owner will pay out compensation for the claim, rather than an insurance company.
Why use an APIL road accident lawyer?
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers has over 3,500 members and is an independent, not-for-profit organisation fighting for the rights of injured people. APIL provides accreditation for lawyers who specialise in personal injury law and this accreditation shows that these lawyers have achieved high standards of expertise and competence. Our accredited lawyers are committed to attending legal personal injury training to keep their specialist personal injury skills up-to-date.
Only accredited injury lawyers specialising in road accidents are listed on this page.