Can I make a claim for compensation after a hit and run accident?
The phrase “hit and run” is unfortunately heard fairly often in the news. A “hit and run” is where a motorist leaves the scene of an accident without giving their details. It is an offence to fail to stop at the scene of an accident and the law says that under Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 where an accident has taken place and either damage or personal injury has been caused, the driver is required to remain at the scene of the accident and provide their name and address.
There may also be other scenarios where the driver is unable to be traced. For example if you have been provided with details at the scene of the accident which later turn out to be false.
Suffering an injury in a “Hit and Run” can be particularly distressing. Victims may think that because the driver cannot be identified, that they are unable to be compensated for the injuries and losses suffered, but that is not the case. Those injured in these sorts of accidents may be able to claim compensation from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.
What is the Motor Insurers’ Bureau?
The Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) was established in 1946 to compensate the victims of negligent uninsured and untraced motorists. It is funded by insurance premiums paid by insured drivers and all motor insurers are required to contribute to MIB funding.
The MIB acts in a similar way to an insurance company and has agreements with the UK government to provide compensation for personal injury and property damage in situations where the other driver cannot be traced, is uninsured or was driving a vehicle registered in a foreign county.
How do I make a claim with the MIB?
Before making a claim with the MIB, you are expected to take all reasonable steps to identify the other driver. You should report the accident to the police and ask for a reference number. If there were witnesses you should ask them for their full contact details as they may be able to assist the police with any enquiries.
If it is not possible to trace the driver you are able to make an application for compensation to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau. The first step is to complete the claim form. This form needs to have reached the MIB within 3 years from the date of your accident and tells the MIB exactly what happened and the circumstances surrounding your accident. Your solicitor will help complete this for you and submit the form to the MIB. The MIB will not automatically accept responsibility for the untraced driver’s actions. They will fully investigate the claim and collate all of the information they need. This will include obtaining the police report, speaking to any witnesses and taking a statement from you. They are also likely to obtain copies of your medical records and will use all of this information to make a decision on whether they accept or reject your claim.
If the MIB accept your claim, they will arrange for you to see an independent medical expert who will provide a report detailing your injuries and prognosis. This will be sent to your solicitor who will check with you that you are happy with the contents. Once medical evidence has been finalised, the MIB will then assess the value of your claim and make an offer of settlement to you. They assess compensation in the same way that is decided by a Court and the value of the claim will depend on the severity of the injuries you have suffered and the effect that the accident has had on your daily life. Your solicitor will be able to negotiate on your behalf to help you get the maximum amount of compensation that you are entitled to.
If the MIB does not consider that the untraced driver is at fault for the accident then they will reject your claim. If this happens they will provide details of why they have rejected it. Your solicitor will then be able to advise you on how you can appeal the decision and the likelihood of succeeding with an appeal.
If you’ve been injured in a “hit and run” type accident do not automatically assume that you cannot bring a claim for compensation. You may well be able to pursue a claim against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau and you should always seek prompt legal advice to explore the options open to you.