What to do after a car accident
If you have been injured in a car accident and can show that it was not your fault, or that you were only partly to blame, you will be able to make a claim for compensation. Here’s what to do after a car accident to make sure you have the best chance of securing a car accident compensation pay-out.
Car Accident Claims
Although the number of car accidents is thankfully on the decline, if you are unfortunate enough to be hurt in an accident it is important to receive any compensation you are due by making a claim. To give yourself the best chance of making a successful claim, follow the checklist below.
Car Accident Checklist
- Report the accident to the Police
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible, no matter how minor the injury appears at first
- Take pictures of the location of the cars before they are moved, provided it is safe to do so
- Swap your details with the other driver – including name, address, telephone number and insurance information. If you don’t have your car insurance information to hand you must provide this to the other driver a soon as possible, if you don’t you could get into trouble with the police.
- Jot down a physical description of the other car driver and make a note of how many people are in the other car
- Make a full report to your own insurance company about the car accident
- Contact a car accident lawyer or car accident solicitor to seek advice as soon as possible so that they can contact the other driver’s insurance company to start your claim.
- Keep a record of all your expenses related to the car accident including any loss of earnings if you can’t work because of the car accident, other expenses would include, trips to the hospital or GP, parking expenses, public transport, taxis. Your car accident lawyer or car accident solicitor will advise you about what you can claim as a result of your accident
- Keep a record of how your injuries are progressing as you recover
Car Accident Injuries
If you are unfortunate enough to be injured in a car accident you should seek medical attention as soon as possible, no matter how minor the injury appears initially. There is a wide range of injuries that can be the result of a car accident and they can be traumatic, disabling and life changing. Examples of some of the most common injuries are found below.
Whiplash after a car accident
It is possible to suffer a whiplash injury to your neck or to your back if you are involved in a collision.
What is a whiplash injury? Whiplash refers to the strain caused to the neck and/or back due to the body being thrown forwards then backwards in a car accident – like a whip. The great forces involved in such a movement results in the muscles in your neck and often back being strained.
Whiplash symptoms include a tense feeling in the neck with stiffness and sometimes headaches. More severe whiplash injuries can result in dizziness and pins and needles in the arms and hands. You can find more info about the full range of symptoms at the NHS Direct website.
Whiplash treatment often involves physiotherapy along with anti-inflammatory tablets and pain killers. It may be possible to obtain funding from the other driver’s insurance company to undertake physiotherapy or another type of rehabilitation, if a medical professional has advised this to be appropriate.
Removal of Compensation for Whiplash in Road Traffic Accidents
The Government is currently proposing to make changes to the law which may affect an individual’s right to claim compensation for soft tissue injuries or “whiplash” These changes may also affect the amount that can be recovered for such injuries.
In addition the Government may force those injured through no fault of their own to use the Small Claims Court if the case is worth up to £5000. This means that an injured person will no longer be able to have the benefit of a solicitor to submit and prepare their case or to represent them at court and will have to seek compensation direct from a large insurance company.
It is not clear if the Government will go ahead with these changes the earliest they may be implemented would be by April 2017 or October 2017.
Shoulder belt injuries are caused by seat belts. While essential to save lives these can cause serious shoulder injuries and can be responsible for rotator cuff tears which are particularly debilitating. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that stabilises the shoulder and aids movement. When you pull an item towards you or raise your arm over your head you use this muscle group.
Hip injuries can also come about due to the restraining effect of the seat belt, and are also common for the same reason. Knee Injuries are common due to impact with the dashboard.
Head injuries obviously can occur in serious car accidents but also in apparently less serious incidents if you happen to hit your head on the inside of the car.
Car Injuries Treatment
Physiotherapy is often recommended to aid a full recovery from injuries sustained in car accidents.
If someone has a bad psychological reaction to the accident, which is not uncommon, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy may be recommended (CBT).
What to do at the hospital or your GP’s surgery.
If you are taken to A&E after the accident or need to attend later, the hospital staff will record details of your injury in your medical records. Make sure that they accurately record how the accident happened.
If you need to attend your GP for advice or for a sick note, again make sure that the GP records how the accident happened.
Reporting car accidents to the Police
It is important, no matter how minor the collision appears, to report any accident to the police as soon as possible. If it later transpires that the other driver was untraced or uninsured then your claim would need to proceed via the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) and in some cases they can turn down the claim for compensation if it is not reported to the police within 7 days.
Reporting car accidents to your Insurers
You should also report your accident to your insurers no matter whether your insurance is fully comprehensive or just third-party, fire and theft. A delay in doing this could affect your cover if the other driver argues that you are at fault and tries to claim compensation against you.
Unreported Car accidents
If you have not reported your accident to the police you can still make a claim. It is helpful if you can get details of any witnesses who can verify how the accident took place, or if you told your GP about the accident. Remember, you should always take the other drivers’ details at the scene, including name, address, telephone number and insurance details.
Car Accident law
If you feel the accident was not your fault, or even if you are not sure, you should speak to a car accident lawyer or car accident solicitor at the earliest opportunity. Your solicitor is an expert on how a judge would attribute blame according to motoring law. Many accidents are surprisingly common allowing for confident predictions to be made on liability. A solicitor will also assist you in getting together all the information you need to make a claim against the other party, typically on a no-win no-fee basis.
Car injury claims
The amount you can claim for your injuries depends on the type of injury and how long it takes to recover from it.
Your specialist car accident lawyer or solicitor will arrange for you to be examined by an independent medical expert who will prepare a report on your injuries. You may need more than one report depending on the nature of your injury.
As detailed above the Government is proposing changes to abolish or reduce compensation for soft tissue injuries or “whiplash” injuries. There is a suggestion that a “minor” injury should attract an award of £400 with £25 added for any psychological damage.
Currently a straightforward “whiplash“ injury without psychological damage would attract an award of approx. £2000 for symptoms lasting approx. 6 months.
The definition of a “minor” injury is not clear other than an injury lasting approx. 6 months. Though no consideration has been given to how the same accident or injury can affect different people in different ways.
Claiming for financial losses
In addition to the compensation for your injury you can also claim for things like sick pay, travel expenses, prescription costs, and compensation for the time family members or friends spend helping you. These are just a few examples of what you can claim. It is very important to keep a record of all expenditure, and to keep receipts.
Each car accident claim is different so the type of things you can claim do vary. Your specialist car accident solicitor will be able to advise you on what can be claimed so you don’t miss out on any compensation you deserve.
Car accident sick pay
If you are off work after your car accident you may be entitled to sick pay, but if not then any loss of earnings can be included within the car accident claim. Your solicitor would need to see pay slips from 13 weeks before the accident and pay slips for your absence and for about 13 weeks after your return to work. You may also be able to claim for lost commission and overtime payments.
Car accident claim time limit
The time limit for making a claim following a car accident is three years from the date of the accident. If you were under 18 when you were injured in a car accident then the three years runs from when you turned 18 so you would have until your 21st Birthday to issue a claim at court. It is always best to start the claim sooner rather than later.
Going to court
The other driver’s insurers will deal with their side of your compensation claim. If they decide to argue that they are not responsible, or they do not agree the amount of your compensation payment, you may need to go to court to prove your case.
Your specialist car accident lawyer or car accident solicitor will support you and guide you on the court process. The majority of cases settle without ever seeing the inside of a court room but your car accident solicitor will always prepare your case as if it is going to court, and thereby show your opponent that they mean business and are prepared to take your case all the way.
This is all set to change if the Government’s proposed changes become law in April or October 2017. Unless your case is worth in excess of £5000 you will have to prepare and submit your case yourself to the insurance company and ultimately represent yourself in the Small Claims Court without the assistance of a solicitor
My client was travelling along a motorway in the nearside lane when a car to his left decided not to leave at the slip road and performed a U turn in front of him. My client sustained soft tissue injuries to his neck and back. A medical report was obtained from an independent medical expert who supported these injuries. He has extensive physiotherapy. Eighteen months after the accident he was still suffering from residual symptoms in his neck and back though the expert felt a full recovery would be made by two and a half years post accident. Liability was disputed with the insurance company arguing that the minor vehicle damage could not have caused such an injury. Legal proceedings were issued. This resulted in a successful conclusion to the case attracting an award of £4500.00.
Under the proposals suggested by the Government this client would have to deal with this case himself from beginning to end.