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Road Traffic Accident FAQs

What should I do following a road traffic accident?

In the event of an accident, try to make a note of:

Names, addresses and telephone numbers of all persons who were involved in or witnessed the accident

The make, model and registration number of all vehicles involved, including the extent of damage and whether the vehicles were still drivable The time, date and location of the accident

What happened, including witness and other drivers' versions of events If any person involved was physically injured or is complaining of pain and discomfort

Additionally, if you can draw a diagram of the accident scene showing the road layout, position of vehicles, other relevant features and witness locations, this will help proceedings, as will taking photographs of the vehicle positions and the damage done.

What if I am injured in a road traffic accident and the other driver cannot be traced?

If the responsible driver flees the scene and you have not been able to take down any of his/her details, you can still pursue a claim for compensation through the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB). However, it will be dealt with slightly differently to a normal claim, as it would be dealt with under the Untraced Drivers' Agreement.

Upon receipt of a claim, the MIB will investigate the claim to determine liability. Once this has been resolved, the next step would be to value your claim. Under the Untraced Drivers' Agreement, the MIB make the arrangements for a medical examination.

You should provide us with a list of expenses also, as these could be recoverable from the MIB. However, it should be noted that if the MIB does not make any award for property damage (i.e. vehicle damage), then there is an excess of £300.

If your claim is successful, you would be compensated by the MIB through the Untraced Drivers Agreement. On top of your compensation, only a contribution will be made towards your legal costs because there is no responsible driver to recover those costs from. In these circumstances, any costs over and above those paid for by the MIB would have to be deducted from your compensation. However, Grieves would ensure these costs are kept to an absolute minimum.

What if I am injured in a road traffic accident and the other driver is not insured?

When the driver responsible for a road accident is not insured, the claim could be submitted to a government funded body known as the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB). The MIB would deal with the compensation claim under the Uninsured Drivers' Agreement.

A claim form would have to be completed and lodged with the MIB and, upon receipt, they would investigate the claim for compensation and, once the issue of liability was resolved, Grieves would then look into valuing your claim in the same way as œWhat does the law entitle me to claim for?.

Your legal costs would be paid by the MIB on top of your compensation, and those costs would be recoverable from the responsible driver directly. It should be noted that an excess of £300 is payable, so when you are claiming for property damage - i.e. vehicle damage - the MIB would not be responsible for the first £300.

Can I Claim for Whiplash Caused by a Low Impact Collision?

Can I claim if I suffer personal injury in a road traffic accident such as whiplash but my car is not damaged?

When injuries like whiplash occur because of crash between cars at high speed, once the person who caused the accident has admitted it was their fault the next issue is how much money you should receive for your accident related injuries.

However if the person who caused the crash was not going very fast and in addition there is little or no damage to your car the issue quickly turns to how your injuries cannot have been cause by such as low speed impact crash (typically if the person who hit you was driving at under 5 mph). In such cases, the person who caused the crash will often admit that they were responsible for the crash but will argue that the accident occurred at such a low speed that the symptoms you are suffering from are either non-existent, exaggerated or not the result of the accident.

Their argument here is often based on the claim that the accident happened at too low a speed to produce the injuries claimed.

There are two schools of thought on low-speed accidents

1.Some forensic experts are of the view that accidents involving very light damage to the car could not have produced a sufficient impact to cause injury.

2.The other school of thought is that low-speed accidents can indeed cause injuries such as whiplash.

The reason is that while the vehicle in which you are travelling, which is a rigid structure, may suffer little damage, the sudden deceleration means that a considerable momentum is built up in the bodies of the passengers, which are not coupled to the car.

The energy generated in the crash therefore passes to the bodies of the passengers, with little decrease in force. Accordingly, the passengers also decelerate rapidly, but as they are neither rigid structures nor have built-in crumple zones. The result is often whiplash which is a common injury in such cases. This can cause further problems as the symptoms of whiplash sometimes only appear some considerable time after the accident. This means that you may not even be aware that the accident has caused you injury until later which is why it is essential to always take down the details of any driver who causes an accident even if you think you are not injured

If you do not have the defendants details or they have left the scene without giving you their details a claim can be made through the MIB untraced drivers agreement.

As a result the defendants often fight such cases rigorously which can increase the time it takes to settle such cases.

The driver who caused my accident was not insured, can I still make a claim?

You may be surprised to learn that not all compensation claims arising out of road traffic accidents are made directly against an insurance company. The reason for this could be because the person responsible for your accident does not have insurance or because the person has left the scene without leaving their details and neither you nor the police or any other person involved have been able to trace that vehicle.

When you are involved in an accident it is very important that at the very least you make a note of the responsible vehicle's registration number. If possible, you should also take down the driver's full name, address and insurance details.

The reason it is important to take down the registration number of the responsible driver's vehicle is that if that driver leaves the scene of the accident without giving their personal information, Grieves Solicitors have access to a database of the insurance details for all vehicles registered in the United Kingdom since 2000.

In addition, Grieves Solicitors can make further enquiries as to ownership of the offending vehicle with the DVLA and providing insurance is in place, a letter can be sent to that insurance company notifying them of the claim.

Providing the insurance is valid, that insurance company would be responsible for payment of your compensation arising out of the accident.

Can I claim for compensation if I was a passenger?

At first glance this seems a question that does not really need an answer. However, there are a number of things to consider when advising a passenger in any kind of motor vehicle or on a motor bike.

The general rule is that if you are a passenger in a motor vehicle or on a motor cycle and are injured as a result of the negligent driving of another person then you can make a claim against that drivers insurance. If the accident was caused by the negligent driving of the vehicle in which you were a passenger then you can make a claim against that drivers insurance.

If the accident was caused by the negligence of both the driver of the vehicle in which you were a passenger and another vehicle, you can claim against both drivers insurers, and is then up to them to decide who will deal with your claim.

Problems can crop up if you are a passenger in a vehicle which you know to be stolen, or you know that the driver does not have a license, was uninsured or you knew or should have known that the driver had been drinking and was likely to be over the limit.

If you are injured as the result of negligence of an uninsured motorist then you can make a claim for damages for your injuries to the Motor Insurers Bureau, which is a Government funded body to compensate victims of such accidents.

Similarly, if you are a passenger in a car, which is involved in an accident with a œhit and run driver who cannot be traced, and the accident was the fault of that vehicle then you can claim to the Motor Insurers Bureau under their Untraced Motorists Scheme.

The answer therefore is that any passenger who is injured in a motor accident caused by the negligence of a driver can make a claim for damages for their injuries suffered in the accident, although the circumstances have to be looked at to determine against whom the claim should be made and whether the passenger has done anything to deprive themselves of their right to damages.

The best advice is to seek advice on your right of claim as soon as possible after any accident.

Do I have to use my Insurance Company's Solicitor?

The short answer is no, you have freedom of choice when selecting which solicitor you instruct to represent you when making a claim.

If you have a road traffic accident in your vehicle is damaged and you submit a claim to your motor insurer which indicates that you were injured and also suffered uninsured losses, such as lost wages, damage to clothing, you will be more than likely be contacted by your insurer offering to appoint a solicitor to act on your behalf or by a solicitor to whom they have passed your details, offering to represent you. When this happens it is likely that you will not be advised that you have freedom to choose the solicitor to conduct your claim.

Many people feel pressured to accept the solicitor put forward by their insurers, but by exercising your freedom of choice you do not affect your insurance cover and rights under the Policy.

The same principles apply to Legal Expenses Insurance cover for other types of accident, such as accidents at work, tripping/slipping accident, and accidents occurring whilst visiting premises such as shops, restaurants etc.

Often when submitting a claim form to your insurer they will inform you that you have to agree to be represented by a solicitor appointed by the insurance company to have the benefit of their cover and they neglect to inform you that you can instruct a solicitor of your choice.

The benefits of choosing your own solicitor are that you will no doubt choose someone that you already know or has been recommended by someone you know, and is local to you so that you can get access to them easily to discuss your claim. Whereas a solicitor appointed by your insurers may be a some distance away and you never have the chance to meet with them to discuss your claim face to face.

The best advice, therefore, is to take time to consider your options and not just to accept the offer of representation put forward by your insurer, make enquiries before you make your decision, you have nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain.