Whatever their severity, car accidents very rarely make for a pleasant experience, so if you ever find yourself involved in one (whether that be as a passenger or the driver), then it’s important you know exactly what you can claim for – and how. For more info on making a claim – https://smithjonessolicitors.co.uk/road-traffic-accidents/car-accident-claims
Of course, the amount of your claim will very largely depend on the individual circumstances surrounding it and, more specifically, who’s at fault. If you can prove that a third party was to blame, then you should be able to claim the entirety of your losses back, together with any associated compensation in respect of other losses you might well suffer.
If, on the other hand, you were partly to blame (either by your own admission or based on evidence submitted by a third party) then your entitlement is likely to be reduced on a split liability basis (or ‘contributory negligence’ as it’s more often referred to in legal terms).
In this article, we take a brief look at what you might be able to claim after a car accident and how best to do it.
What can I claim for?
Put simply; the law states that if you have an accident that wasn’t your fault, then you’re entitled to be put back into exactly the same position as you would have been in had the accident not occurred.
Quite what this might entail will naturally depend on the circumstances surrounding your accident, but typically, heads of claim can include personal injury, damage to your vehicle and other associated losses such as medical expenses, prescription charges and loss of earnings etc. Of course, this list certainly isn’t extensive and for the best advice, potential claimants are advised to speak to a legal professional, such as a solicitor or reputable claims management company.
The usual heads of claim, then, will typically include some, or all, of the following:
Personal injury can be defined as either a physical injury, disease illness or psychological illness (which can often occur some considerable time after an accident as taken place).
If you suffer any type of personal injury as a result of a car accident, then you’ll need to obtain medical evidence in order to support any claim you might want to make. This usually includes notes from your own GP, any hospital admission notes (particularly if you were taken into A&E following the accident) and any specialist reports, which are usually prepared by a consultant, often on the request of the third party’s insurer. Of course, personal injury can be extremely difficult to quantify, especially if the symptoms have the potential to become long-term. In cases such as these then it’s likely you’ll be referred for periodical assessments and this, of course, means that your claim may not be settled for quite some time. That said, some insurance companies are prepared to make periodical payments in respect of ongoing medical conditions, so it’s always advisable to look into this possibility – especially if you find yourself having to take time off work and resultantly receive a much lower income or have to claim statutory sick pay. At the time of writing (February 2018) the standard rate for this is £89.35 a week and is payable for up to 28 weeks.
Specific financial losses
As stated above, these can include any type of financial loss you might incur as a direct result of the accident, such as travel expenses, any time you might have to take off work (either on sick leave, or to attend medical appointments) and the replacement of any items which were damaged in the accident (such as glasses, clothing or other personal equipment). Whilst these are usually much easier to quantify than the personal injury aspect, you’ll still need proof of your specific loss – such as receipts for any replacement items, parking tickets and taxi receipts etc.
Damage to your vehicle
Vehicle damage is usually quite straightforward to quantify and is often done by obtaining two or more independent quotes. Most insurance companies will insist that any repairs are done by an approved body shop, so it’s important not to get any work done until such time as they’ve been pre-approved. You may also have to pay an excess.
If your insurer takes the decision that it isn’t economical to repair your vehicle, then they’ll usually offer you the vehicle’s market value (and this might well be substantially less than what you’d hoped for – or what you might previously have been able to sell it for). This procedure is known as the “write-off” procedure, i.e. the insurer will simply pay what they consider to be its ultimate value. In some cases, you might be able to keep the vehicle, or effectively ‘buy it back’ from salvage. However, this can have certain implications – such as not being able to retain the original number plate and/or substantially increasing your insurance premiums.
How do I go about making a claim?
In the first instance, you’ll need to notify your insurer of any potential claim since this not only affects the claim itself but might also affect any future ‘no-claims’ bonus on your policy.
Whilst each insurance company has its own procedure for making a claim the general principles are fairly straightforward. You need to collect as much evidence as possible in support of your claim and then submit it at the soonest opportunity. Evidence typically includes things such as witness statements, police reports, garage estimates and GP or hospital notes if you’re looking to claim for personal injury.
Where can I get advice on how to make a claim?
Most high street law firms will be able to offer advice on how to make a claim and many of these now offer a “no win, no fee” scheme which means that you won’t have to pay upfront for any legal fees (other than standard disbursements, such as Court issue fees, medical reports and so on). Naturally, options like these will vary massively between each firm so be sure to shop around for the best deal and remember that the cheapest option isn’t always the best.
You can also seek initial advice from organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Seek Professional Advice from a Law Firm
Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is never something that anyone wants to deal with, but sadly, they’re often unavoidable. In fact, according to the UK’s road safety charity, Brake, there were some 22,144 people seriously injured and a further 186,189 casualties on the UK’s roads during 2015 alone. Consequently, whether you’re to blame or not, there are many things you need to consider if you find yourself having to make a claim.
Fortunately, there are a wealth of online resources to assist should you need any clarification regarding what you can (and can’t) claim and of course, Smith Jones Solicitors will soon point you in the right direction when it comes to making a claim. The key thing to remember, however, is that the law is only there to put you back into the position you would have been in had the accident not occurred and not to provide you with a windfall pay-out! Consequently, should any element of the claim be exaggerated then this will quickly undermine your credibility and could even result in you paying costs to the other side? The best advice, then, is to keep to the facts and simply claim back what you’re rightfully due.