Introduction to road traffic accidents
Whether you are driving, walking, cycling or taking a trip as a passenger on the local bus, using the roads is a daily occurrence for the majority of people living here in the UK. Fortunately, road safety is better than it has ever been due to better education for drivers, improved car safety features such as airbags and effective road safety awareness campaigns. However, even when taking all the necessary steps and precautions to keep yourself safe on the road, it is not possible to control the behaviour of others or the hazards that can be caused by a dangerous or unmaintained road surface.
Government statistics released in 2014 revealed that over the previous year, 183,670 people were injured in reported road traffic accidents. Of these accidents, 1,713 were fatal and 21,657 involved serious injuries. Of course, not all road traffic accidents are reported to the police – it was estimated that 710,000 people may have been injured if we were to include unreported incidents, many of whom may never have realised that they might be eligible for compensation.
If you have been injured as a result of a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault, you may well have a valid personal injury claim. Even if the injuries you have sustained appear to be relatively minor, they can still have an adverse affect on your life, from causing an annoying inconvenience to serious psychological distress.
We can provide expert advice and information for people involved in road traffic accidents whether you are:
• The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident that was caused by another party.
• The passenger of a vehicle involved in an accident, such as a bus or taxi, or even if you were a passenger in a friend’s car.
• The rider or passenger involved in a motorbike accident.
• A pedestrian or cyclist involved in a road traffic accident.
Our expert team can offer a free initial consultation to discuss your situation and assess whether you may have a claim before proceeding on a no win no fee basis.
What do I do after a road traffic accident?
The immediate aftermath of a road traffic accident can be a confusing and frightening time. You may be in shock or perhaps badly injured and unable to take stock of what has happened. However, it is important that as soon as you are able, you take steps to record the incident and gather evidence to prove that another party was at fault. This is integral to making any kind of successful personal injury claim.
If possible, you need to collect contact details such as names, addresses and phone numbers from not only the other party that was involved in the accident, but also of any eye-witnesses who might be able to support your claim. Additionally, taking some photographs of any damage caused or the environment and location of the accident can also be helpful.
Even if you feel that your injuries are relatively minor, it is still essential to ensure you receive medical treatment as soon as possible. Some injuries such as a concussion or internal bleeding might not be immediately noticeable so it is always better to be on the safe side and get checked out. Medical reports recording the extent of your injuries and proving that you experienced these as a result of your accident could also be crucial to winning your claim. If you are hoping for financial remuneration, ensure you keep all receipts for any costs incurred as a result of your accident.
It is important to report the accident to the police as soon as possible in order to support your claim, particularly if:
• Someone has been injured.
• The accident was a hit and run i.e. the other driver did not stop.
• The other party abandoned the scene without leaving contact details.
The law specifies strict time limits to make your claim after your road traffic accident – these can vary but it is advisable to move as quickly as possible in these situations.
Who is the claim against?
Generally, the claim will be made to the insurance company of the party responsible for the road traffic accident. However, if the other driver did not stop or left the scene without leaving their details and the police are unable to locate them, you may still be able to claim compensation.
The Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB) offer an untraced driver scheme which could help you make a claim. Criteria includes:
• An excess of £300 to be made payable for any property damage.
• A claim to be registered within nine months of the incident.
• A police report to be filed within 5 days of the incident.
In some situations, even if you are not at fault, it can be unclear as to who the claim might need to be made against. For example, if a stationary object is involved or if the road surface created dangerous driving conditions that led to the accident.
If you are involved in this sort of road accident, consider whether the object in question was adequately marked with lights or signs to allow drivers enough time to see it and stop – a claim may be made against the person or company responsible for leaving it there without the appropriate warning signs. If it was a parked car, the responsibility would lie with the owner.
Pot holes or uneven road surfaces can cause road accidents; the responsibility for this would fall to the local authority. The local authority have a duty to maintain and repair roads – they must be alerted as quickly as possible following an accident to ensure the situation can be rectified. Photographs documenting the scene and cause of the accident are very useful when making this sort of claim. If a company managing road-works leaves a road damaged or dangerous due to negligence, the claim will most likely be made against them.