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What should I do after a road traffic accident?

Road traffic accidents and car crashes are frightening and upsetting events that many of us hope to never be involved in. However, they can happen, and it helps to know what to do in the immediate aftermath should you decide to make it a legal matter, such as by pursuing a personal injury claim.

What’s the criteria for pursuing a personal injury claim after a road traffic accident?

If you have sustained injury as a result of a road traffic accident due to no fault of your own, or if you were only partly to blame, you could make a claim for personal injury against the negligent, or partly negligent, party.

What information do I need to get after a road traffic accident?

Once you’re certain that everyone involved is safe and the relevant authorities, such as the police, have been contacted, you may want to start collecting some vital information that will help you should you decide to make a personal injury claim in the future.

These can include:

1. Exchange details

You are legally obligated to swap details with any other drivers involved. This includes your name, address, contact details and insurance information. If you can’t remember your insurance details, be sure to get contact information so you can follow up later. If the offending party was driving a company vehicle, make sure to gather the company contact details too.

2. Contact the Police

You may have contacted the police already for safety reasons, but there are several other reasons why it may be beneficial for the police to attend the scene. These include:

  • The Defendant refuses to exchange details with you
  • The Defendant failed to stop at the scene (hit and run)
  • You have reasons to believe the Defendant was driving without insurance
  • You suspect the Defendant is under the influence

It is important to report the accident to the Police as your Solicitor may need to obtain a copy of the Police Report if liability was to be disputed by the Defendant.

3. Witnesses

It is important to collect the contact details of all witnesses present at the scene. Having independent witnesses may be of assistance in a situation where the Defendant denies liability.

4. Take photographs

It is a good idea to take photographs of the vehicles involved in the accident, including the registration plates, the damages to the vehicles involved and the position of the vehicles before they are moved.

5. Notify your insurance

You need to report your accident to your insurance company as soon as possible even if you do not wish to make a claim. If you are partly to blame for the accident, the other driver could make a claim against you, so you need to put your insurers on notice.

6. Seek medical attention

You need make sure you take reasonable steps to seek medical treatment as soon as possible in order to record your accident and assist your recovery.

7. Records of the accident

As time passes it is natural for your memory to fade. It’s always a good idea for to keep a record of the accident. You should record as much information about the scene as you can. Some of the other things you might want to note down include:

  • The weather and road conditions – is it icy or raining heavily?
  • Roadworks – note any potholes and the condition of the road surface
  • Estimated speeds – note down your speed and the estimated speeds of the other vehicles. It’s best to be honest at this stage.
  • The damage sustained by all vehicles
  • Vehicle details, including colour, age and registration plate
  • Number of people travelling in each vehicle

What can you claim?

You are entitled to be compensated for pain, suffering and ‘loss of amenity’ (‘PSLA’), as long as it can be established that the injury you sustained was caused as a result of the accident.

The pain and suffering element of the award aims to compensate you for physical but also psychological symptoms. The loss of amenity compensates you for loss of enjoyment of life or a reduction in ability to perform everyday tasks.

In addition, you are entitled to be awarded compensation for financial losses resulting from the accident, however, your losses will have to be supported by evidence. You should make a note of any expenses you incur following your accident, such as loss of earnings due to time off work, or any money spent on medical appointments.

What is the time period for making a claim?

There is a fixed period of time during which a personal injury claim can be made. In relation to personal injury claims involving adults, the general rule is that a claim must be commenced within three years from the date of the accident. If the Court proceedings are not formally commenced before the three-year deadline then, the claim is statute-barred under the Limitation Act 1980.

There are of course exceptions when an adult is not prevented from making a personal injury claim just because the limitation has expired. However, it is the Court that has the discretion to extend the three-year limitation period.

In claims involving children, the time limit for claiming personal injury is different from that of adults. The three-year limitation period only starts when the child reaches their eighteenth birthday hence, a child can claim personal injury up to their 21st birthday.

If you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident and would like more information about making a claim, contact our helpful personal injury team on 0808 271 9413 for further guidance. Or request a call back online.