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Road Traffic Accident Claims

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Injuries sustained in a Road Traffic Accident or RTA could lead to a personal injury claim if the accident was caused by somebody else. Normally, you’ll claim against a motor insurance policy but it’s also possible to claim for accidents involving uninsured or hit-and-run drivers.

You may be entitled to begin a road traffic accident claim if:

  • Another road user caused an accident through an act of negligence; and
  • You suffered injuries as a direct result of the accident; and
  • The road traffic accident happened in the last 3 years.

What Are Road Traffic Accident Claims?

A road traffic claim is where somebody who has been injured in an RTA caused by somebody else’s mistake or negligence is compensated for their suffering. Any compensation paid is designed to help you recover physically, emotionally and financially.

Common Road Traffic Accidents

As all road users have a duty of care to protect each other because of the Road Traffic Act 1988, anybody injured due to somebody else’s negligence could start a road traffic accident claim. Most claims relate to:

  • Car accidents.
  • Passenger injuries.
  • Cycling and motorbike accidents.
  • Pedestrian injuries.

Common Road Traffic Injuries

Legally, you might be entitled to claim for any type of personal injury sustained in a no-fault RTA. Amongst other types of injuries, you could therefore claim compensation for:

  • Neck and shoulder injuries including whiplash.
  • Concussions, brain damage and other head injuries.
  • Sprains, strains and tears affecting muscles, ligaments and tendons.
  • Bruising and internal bleeding.
  • Cuts and lacerations.
  • Psychological injuries including PTSD.
  • Broken bones (wrists, arms, legs and pelvis are common in RTA claims).
  • Burns following airbag deployment.

Whiplash Compensation Claims

The government has made changes to try and reduce the impact of whiplash claims on the cost of motor insurance policies. As a result, you now have the option to claim for whiplash injuries valued at less than £5,000 through an online government portal.

You don’t need to use a personal injury solicitor to do so but you might wish to discuss your case with one beforehand in case you might be entitled to more than £5,000.

How Long Do Road Traffic Accident Claims Take?

The time taken to process a road traffic accident claim will depend on several factors including:

  • Whether the defendant’s insurer accepts liability for the accident quickly.
  • Whether you’ve already recovered in full.
  • Whether the extent of your injuries is fully understood and accepted by the defendant’s insurers.

If liability for the accident is accepted quickly and there are your injuries have healed already, you could be compensated fairly quickly (in less than 6 months in some cases).

Claims can take more time (over a year in some cases) if extra negotiation time is needed to prove how the accident happened or to find out the long-term impact of your injuries.

What Time Limit Applies To Road Traffic Accident Claims?

The time limit for a road traffic accident is 3 years.

This will commence on the date of your accident or from when you found out about your injuries (your date of knowledge).

Exceptions to this 3-year rule include:

  • Accidents involving children. The 3 years begin on the child’s 18th birthday if no claim has already been made. Before then, a responsible adult can seek damages on the child’s behalf at any time.
  • Lack of mental capacity. Where a loved one does not have the mental capacity to make a road traffic accident claim alone, you could represent them. There is no time limit for doing so (unless they regain their mental capacity).
  • Accidents abroad. You may find that the time limit for road traffic accident claims relating to incidents abroad have a different time limit. It’s worth checking this before proceeding with a claim.

How Much Compensation Is Paid For Road Traffic Accident Claims?

The amount of compensation awarded in successful road traffic accident claims depends on several factors. It’s important to think about how you’ve suffered and whether you need to claim compensation for:

  • Your pain and suffering (physical and psychological injuries).
  • Support and care needs (this might be a long-term expense).
  • Current and future losses of earnings.
  • Private medical treatment or care costs.
  • Mobility aids and home adaptations.
  • Travel expenses incurred as a result of your accident or injuries.
  • Loss of amenity.

Interim Payments In RTA Claims
If it’s not completely clear how your injuries will affect you in the future, your claim might take a while to be finalised. If this is the case and the defendant has accepted the blame for the accident, you could be awarded interim compensation payments to help you financially. These could help towards the cost of medical or care cost or if you’re struggling on a reduced income.

Uninsured Driver / Hit And Run Road Traffic Accident Claims

You could be entitled to compensation even if the party responsible was uninsured or failed to stop at the accident scene. A scheme operated by the Motor Insurers Bureau and paid for by a levy on insurance premiums can provide compensation in these scenarios.

You can deal with these claims on your own but you could also seek legal advice from a specialist solicitor who may be able to secure a higher compensation settlement for you.

Road Traffic Accident Claims Frequently Asked Questions

Do RTA claims go to court?

Court action in road traffic accident claims is usually a last resort. In general, insurers and personal injury lawyers try to settle claims out of court wherever possible. This can help to reduce the cost of the claim and how long it takes. However, in a small number of cases where an amicable settlement cannot be achieved, a court may need to decide the outcome of your claim.

Will I need a medical assessment?

All personal injury claims must be supported by an independent medical report. This will help both parties in the claim to understand the extent of your injuries and how they might continue to affect you in the future. The report will be used to help determine how much compensation you could be awarded.

When should I begin a road traffic accident claim?

You can begin your claim at any point before the 3-year personal injury claims time limit (beginning from the date of your accident). If you’re taking on legal representation, you should check if your solicitor will have enough time to collect the evidence needed to support your claim.

Do I have to use the lawyers recommended by my insurance provider?

Even if your solicitor has a preferred personal law firm, you’re not necessarily obliged to use them. You can speak to solicitors that specialise in road traffic accident claims to find out how they’ll handle your claim.

How much do road traffic accident claims cost?

Many solicitors offer a No Win No Fee service for road traffic accident claims. That means that you’ll only have to pay legal fees if your claim is won. Usually, this is around 25% of any settlement you receive. If the claim is lost and you’re liable for the defendant’s legal fees, they should be covered by an After The Event (ATE) insurance policy. You should confirm any potential costs and success fees before signing a No Win No Fee contract.

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