RTAs (or RTIs – Road Traffic Incidents – as they are now known by the emergency services), are every motorist’s worst nightmare. Whether you are travelling on two wheels or four, a pedestrian or a professional driver, having an accident on the road can affect both your health and your livelihood.
Whilst most RTAs are fairly minor, others can be far more serious, resulting in life-changing injuries.
So if you are involved in an RTA, what are your options when it comes to claiming personal injury compensation?
Why can you claim compensation after an accident?
The Road Traffic Act 1988 provides that every road user has a duty of care to drive in a manner that is safe and does not cause harm to other people, regardless of the location or conditions. If a driver breaches that duty of care by being responsible for what would otherwise be an avoidable incident, then you may hold them responsible and claim compensation. This financial payout can compensate any injury whether whiplash or more serious injuries that may require a lifetime of care.
If you do decide to make a personal injury compensation claim after an RTA, you’ll need to be able to prove that the accident was caused by the other driver’s negligence. Even if you are partly to blame for the accident you can still pursue a claim, although there may be some reduction in your damages to reflect contributory negligence. You will also need to prove that any injuries sustained were a direct cause of the RTA.
Obtaining the evidence
To prove your case, you will need evidence – and as much as possible. The best evidence is that collected at the time of the accident, so if possible (and as long as it’s safe to do so), take pictures of the scene and the position and any damage to vehicles before they are moved. Make sure you take the details of any witnesses to the incident as well, and ask them if they will provide you with copies of any dash-cam footage that may have captured the incident. And while it may seem obvious, do make sure that you get the other driver’s details. It is also worthwhile noting any CCTV cameras that may have recorded the accident.
Anyone injured in the collision will need medical attention. GP and Hospital records are important evidence as they will detail the nature of your injuries as well as treatment provided. They will also be useful in establishing that the injuries were a direct result of the accident, and not caused by any other event or action.
What level of compensation can you expect?
If your claim is successful, the amount of compensation you receive will entirely depend on the severity of the injuries. No two cases will ever be the same. Victim’s financial losses will differ with each claim. There are guidelines laid out by the Judicial College that provide parameters for levels of compensation based on the severity of injuries. However, the case-by-case nature of compensation claims means that even these are only ‘guidelines’ and not definitive.
RTA compensation claims are usually divided into two categories – general damages and special damages. General damages compensate for pain, loss of earnings, loss of enjoyment of life and physical or psychological injuries that are a direct result of the accident. Special damages compensate for any financial costs associated with the incident, including non-NHS treatments, loss of income and care and accommodation costs (including any modifications to your property if the accident has left you disabled).
We will often arrange with insurers for an Immediate Needs Assessment to be undertaken to identify urgent care and treatment needs and negotiate interim compensation payments to cover the cost.
The clock is ticking!
Just like any other personal injury compensation claim, there is a time limit. Claims need to be lodged for issuing with the Court within three years of the date of the accident unless the limitation period has been extended. Things are slightly different if the injured person is a child. If the injured party is a minor, the three-year time limit only kicks in once the child reaches 18, and parents or guardians can claim on behalf of a child at any point up to their 18th birthday.
Get professional help
Making a personal injury compensation claim after a road traffic accident can be a complicated process, especially if the claim is contested by either the other driver or their insurance provider, or evidence is not clear-cut. It’s important, therefore, to ensure that you get professional help as quickly as possible. Personal injury claim specialists have extensive experience in the claims process and understand exactly what is needed to get the best outcome. They will guide you through the process, helping you to gather the evidence you need.
If you have been involved in an RTA and want to make a personal injury compensation claim, talk to a specialist advisor today. You can call email us or phone 020 8349 0321.