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Anyone injured in a road traffic accident (RTA), may be able to claim compensation for their pain and suffering, depending on who was at fault for the accident. 

One of the key issues when making a personal injury claim for an RTA is establishing the cause of the accident. In many cases, the driver responsible for the accident will acknowledge this at the scene of the crash. If the cause of the accident is disputed, CCTV footage, physical evidence and witness statements can help to prove what caused a collision.

It is often possible to make an injury claim even if you were partly responsible for the accident or the extent of your injury, for example, if your injury was more severe because you were not wearing a seatbelt.

How does the road accident claims process work?

With the exception of very serious injuries, all road accident claims are process through the Claims Portal. This process is clearly formatted and designed to make claiming compensation easier and faster.

Your solicitor will send a Claim Notification Form (CNF) to the insurer of driver who caused the accident. The insurance company has a set time limit in which they can investigate the incident and respond. If the insurer accepts that the driver they represent was responsible, a medical report of the claimant's injuryies is prepared.

Due to the strict time frames imposed, claims made using the Claims Portal will usually complete in a matter of only a few months.

Evidence collected at the time of the accident, such as photos, any witness details, information about the surrounding roads, or if there are any police reports, will help to establish which driver was responsible for the accident if there is any dispute.

Your solicitor will also help arrange for a medical expert to assess your injuries, so the right amount of compensation can be claimed for.

What happens if the other driver admits the crash was their fault?

If it is clear that a third party was responsible for the accident and they admit liability, their insurance company act quickly to offer compensation to the Claimant.

Without legal advice and medical evidence, you run the risk of being "under-compensated" for your injuries, which could leave you out of pocket if you need to pay for physiotherapy, or have lost earnings if your injury prevented you from working for a time.

How soon after a road accident should I make a personal injury claim?

The law allows claims to be made up to 3 years after the injuries were sustained, or after it became apparent that injuries were caused by the accident. However it is recommended that a claim is started as soon as possible, while events are clear in the Claimant’s memory.

How long will the claim take?

Where injuries are relatively minor and the Defendant admits the accident was his fault a claim may be settled fairly swiftly.

If the Claimant has sustained more serious injuries and needs to undergo a medical examination to establish the extent of injury and the likely outcomes longer term, the claims process may be lengthy. It may also be necessary to allow time for the injuries to stabilise before agreeing a settlement figure.

Other factors that may slow the claims process include:

  • The Defendant refusing to admit liability 
  • Hit and run accidents where the police cannot locate the driver
  • Uninsured Defendants

Why would I need a medical examination?

As well as records of any initial or ongoing treatment for the injuries an independent medical examination provides impartial evidence of the injuries to the Court so it can assess how much compensation to award. 

A specialist medical professional physically examines the Claimant and asks questions about the impact the injuries have had on his ability to carry out his day to day life.

Using the information the medical professional prepares a report giving his expert opinion on the extent of the Claimant’s injuries and how long it may take to fully recover. He may also recommend further treatment, with the cost to be borne by the Defendant.

Do I have to go to Court?

Most cases are agreed before they reach Court, however if the Defendant does not admit liability for the RTA or there are other factors in dispute (such as the value of the claim) the case may need to be heard in Court. 

How much compensation will I be awarded?

Compensation awards are based on two factors:

  • General damages for the pain and suffering caused by the injuries. These depend on the severity of the injuries and the length of time it may take to fully recover.
  • Special damages are essentially a reimbursement of the costs or losses incurred by the Claimant as a result of his injuries and include loss of earnings (now and in the future), medical and travel expenses and the cost of any home modifications or mobility aids.

Will I receive all my compensation?

If the Court decides that the Claimant contributed in some way to his injuries or was partially to blame for the accident the compensation award may be reduced.

For example, even if the accident was the fault of a third party a Claimant whose injuries were more serious because he was not wearing a seatbelt is likely to have a percentage of the compensation award deducted for contributory negligence. 

This applies to drivers and passengers.

Similarly a passenger may bring a claim if he was injured as a result of an accident caused by the driver being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However if the Claimant knowingly got into a car with an intoxicated driver any compensation may be reduced.

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