How do I Claim after a Car Accident? A Q&A Guide
Introduction to Car Accident Injury Compensation
Hundreds of people receive personal injuries in car accidents daily, following which many may ask “How do I claim after a car accident?” Regardless of whether you are a driver, passenger or pedestrian, if you are not entirely accountable for the accident in which your injury occurred, you may be entitled to claim car accident injury compensation.
The most common form of car accident in which somebody has been injured is when at least two vehicles have collided. However the blame for injuries sustained in car accidents can also lay with the local council for inadequate maintenance of the roads, or with a car mechanic who has shown a lack of care when servicing your vehicle.
Granted that another party was responsible for the accident in which you were injured, a personal injury solicitor should be contacted if you wish to claim car accident injury compensation and get a legal expert´s answer to the question “How do I claim after a car accident?”
How can I Determine if I am Eligible to Claim Car Accident Compensation?
An Injury Must Have Occurred
Before you make a claim for car accident compensation, a record of the injury you are claiming for must exist in your medical history. Following most car accidents, sensible action will be undertaken and all those involved in the accident will receive professional medical attention.
However, if you were only received first aid at the scene of the accident, or you took care of your injuries upon returning home, your medical history will not contain any note of your injuries following your accident and, as a result, any potential car accident injury claim is not likely to be successful.
You will not necessarily be disqualified from receiving compensation for injuries in a car accident if you visit a doctor after a significant period of time has elapsed following an accident. Nevertheless the defence may argue that by not seeking immediate medical attention your injuries worsened, and consequently your compensation settlement may be decreased due to your negligence.
Negligence must have Taken Place
In order to protect passengers, pedestrians and other road users, every driver has a duty of care. This means they drive safely and do not put other road users in danger. Following a car accident, the circumstances of the accident will be analysed by a car accident compensation solicitor to see if a driver – or other party – had neglected to take care and is consequently responsible for your injuries.
A claim for car accident injury compensation will be made on your behalf by your solicitor using evidence provided by witnesses, police reports, CCTV and your own testimony. A claim may have to be proven even if the negligent party admits responsibility for the accident, to show the insurance company that their policyholder is completely liable for your injuries.
Even when the hazard which resulted in your accident and injury is something other than a negligent driver or pedestrian, great care will need to be taken to assemble evidence to support your car accident injury claim. When an “absolute” duty of care is not necessarily present – such as with a claim against a town council or your garage – getting compensation can be complex and therefore an experienced car accident compensation solicitor should be engaged to act on your behalf.
How do I Claim After a Car Accident?
When making a car accident injury claim, your solicitor – upon gathering sufficient evidence of the negligent party´s liability – will send the his or her insurers a Letter of Claim informing them that a claim for compensation claim for injuries in a car accident will be made against their policyholder.
Upon receipt of the letter, the company will have twenty-one days to confirm they have received it, after which they have ninety days to carry out their own examination into your car accident injury and contact your solicitor to let him or her know if they accept or reject the liability of their policyholder due to his/her lack of care.
Car accident compensation amounts will be discussed only when liability is agreed upon. This is because the full extent of injuries sustained in the car accident may not yet be known and long-term health problems may not yet have arisen. Furthermore, your injuries may have an effect upon your livelihood and when – or if – you will be able to return to work.
Once liability has been acknowledged, your solicitor will begin negotiating with the insurance company in order to determine how much compensation for injuries in a car accident you should be entitled to. In the event that an agreement cannot be reached, or the insurance company is not willing to accept liability, court proceedings will be issued by your solicitor in order to find a resolution for your car accident injury claim in court.
How Much Compensation for Injuries in a Car Accident?
After asking “how do I claim after a car accident”, the next question will naturally be how much compensation for injuries in a car accident is likely to be received. The seriousness and nature of your injuries will determine the preliminary amount of compensation you will receive In accordance with the Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages. Thereafter, your car accident injury compensation settlement will be appropriately adjusted based on your age, gender and your general health prior to the accident.
You may also be entitled to compensation for “loss of amenity”. This element of your claim for compensation for injuries in a car accident accounts for the deterioration you have suffered in your quality of life since your accident. If your injuries have left you incapacitated and your ability to perform household tasks, partake in leisure activities or enjoy social abilities has been compromised, this will be covered under loss of amenity.
Emotional trauma damages may also be issued if a psychological issue has been diagnosed. This can occur if the car accident is traumatic for the victim, or if the victim suffers from anxiety of depression during their recovery. Compensation for emotional trauma will always be considered in a claim for car accident compensation if a child passenger has witnessed the injury of a parent or a sibling in a car accident.
You can also be compensated for any financial costs which you may have experienced due to the car accident, which includes lost income if you are unable to work. It is important to remember that certain State benefits you may have received while out of work will be have to be repaid from your final settlement.
An Insurance Company has Offered me a Settlement. Should I Accept it?
As part of the terms and conditions of their car insurance policy, the person responsible for causing the car accident may be obligated to contact their insurance company regarding the accident. When the insurance company realise the liability of their policyholder, they may approach you with an offer of car accident injury compensation.
While you are in a potentially vulnerable position following an accident, the insurance company is likely to offer you a minimal amount in the hope of saving money on a more appropriate settlement and on possible legal fees later. The offer usually is accompanied by the promise of an immediate payment but, even if you are in a desperate financial situation, these unsolicited offers of compensation for a car accident should never be accepted without first consulting with a solicitor..
The number of claimants who accept inadequate offers of compensation for injuries in a car accident do so because they have never asked a solicitor “how do I claim after a car accident” and, if they were to do so, would be advised that once liability for their injuries has been admitted, interim payments of car accident compensation can be applied for until their claim is satisfactorily resolved.
How do I Claim after a Car Accident if the Negligent Driver is Unknown or Uninsured?
The answer to “how do I claim after a car accident” is more complex if the negligent driver is unknown or uninsured.. When the driver is unknown – for instance in a hit and run accident – a car accident injury claim can be made against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB). Before your claim is accepted, the MIB will seek to ensure that every attempt possible has been made by the police to identify the driver, or if the driver is known they will wish to determine that he/she is uninsured. When dealing with the MIB, you are again advised to consult a solicitor.
As UK vehicle insurance companies fund the MIB, they will wish to keep the compensation that is paid to a minimum. So although the MIB will be governed by the Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages, the other factors of a car accident injury claim may not necessarily be considered.
Even when injuries are similar, no two car accident injury claims are the same. Therefore compensation claims should be assessed by an experienced car accident compensation solicitor who is accustomed with dealing with all variations of car accident injury compensation claims.
I was the Passenger in a Car Accident. Am I Entitled to Make a Car Accident Injury Claim?
If you were the passenger in a car accident in which you were injured, you are entitled to claim compensation for an injury. This even applies for situations in which you were a passenger in the car driven by the negligent party.
Sometimes the passenger in a car accident is entitled to more compensation than the vehicle’s driver. This is due to the fact that while the driver of the vehicle has been focusing on the road and has more time to brace for the impact of an accident, the passenger often has less time and consequently may suffer more serious injuries.
In cases where a family member or friend was the negligent party, a compensation claim for a passenger can be difficult. In these situations it is worth remembering by both parties that the claim is being pursued against the insurance company of the driver, and is not a personal claim against the individual.
My Child was Injured in an Accident. How do I Claim Car Accident Compensation on their Behalf?
The question of “how do I claim after a car accident” is dealt with slightly differently when the claim involves a child. By law, children are unable to initiate a car accident injury claim – or instruct a solicitor to do so on their behalf – until they reach the age of eighteen. For this reason injury compensation claims for children are initiated through a “litigation friend” who acts on their behalf.
In order to act as a litigation friend, a person must first be approved by the court. They also cannot have a conflict of interest – for instance, if they were the negligent party in the accident in which the child was injured – and must also be willing to accept the financial consequences in the event that the car accident injury claim is unsuccessful.
Once a settlement of car accident injury compensation has been reached, it has to receive approval from the court. The court will receive the funds from the settlement, which will be kept in an interest bearing account until the child’s eighteenth birthday. Funds may be needed in the meantime in order to provide for educational and medical requirements and, upon approval by the court, can be accessed when necessary.
Can I Receive Assistance to Fund my Claim?
Should there be a high likelihood that your car accident compensation claim will be successful, you may be offered legal representation by your solicitor under a “No Win, No Fee” agreement. In this scenario, you will not be responsible for your solicitor’s legal fees should your claim be unsuccessful.
It should be remembered that even if your claim fails, you can be responsible for expenses which your solicitor has acquired while preparing your claim. You may also be responsible for paying the legal costs of the defendant(s) whom you made the claim against.
Due to the possibility of a financial liability, you will be advised by your solicitor to examine whether you have legal fee insurance through home contents or car insurance policy, membership of a motoring organisation or your credit card. If not, in order to protect against potential costs, your solicitor will arrange insurance cover on your behalf.
Where Can I Receive Further Legal Advice for Car Injury Compensation?
Any potential claim will have questions beyond “how do I claim after a car accident”, and in order to analyse your case in detail you should speak with a solicitor. Before calling a solicitor you are advised to compile a list of any questions you may have and keep a notepad handy when you first call the solicitor in case he or she raises points which you may want to refer to later.
The time limit for making a claim for car accident injury compensation in the UK is three years according to The Statute of Limitations. While this may seem like plentiful time, due to the evidence that may have to be gathered and prolonged negotiations which may occur, you are advised to consult with a solicitor at the earliest opportunity.