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What to do after a car accident

Posted on 25th June 2015

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.

Other injuries

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 (link words “no-win no-fee basis” to site info).

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. You can use an personal injury compensation calculator to estimate how much you are entitled to.

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.

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.

If you have had a car accident and want to speak to a specialist solicitor, you can call me, Anne Sanders, on 0207 874 8474 or email

At Hodge Jones & Allen, our specialist car accident solicitors can deal with all types of accident claims including industrial accidents and office accidents and workplace injury claims ranging from slip and trip claims, scarring injuries, soft tissue damage to brain injuries or spinal cord injuries and even fatal injuries.

Our Personal Injury Solicitors are backed by nearly four decades of experience. Our legal practice and team of London Solicitors have a strong track record of achieving favourable client outcomes. For expert legal advice use our contact form or call us on 0808 250 6017 today.