Claiming compensation for a personal injury incurred in a UK road traffic accident


To claim compensation for an injury in a road accident it is necessary to show that some other person was at least partially at fault.

If that is the case then it is likely that their insurer will compensate you for

  • your pain and suffering; and
  • any financial losses you incur.

It is important to understand that your own insurer is not liable to compensate you as a result of an accident that is wholly your fault.

If you are a motorist in an accident where no other vehicle is involved other than your own it will be very difficult for you to claim compensation unless you can show that the accident resulted from

  • the action of another car which did not crash
  • that the road layout, surface or markings were defective in some way
  • the accident resulted from a fuel spill by persons unknown (usually only successful in the case of motorcycle accidents

Accident compensation claims are successful when the accident is clearly the fault of others.

Passenger injuries

If a passenger is injured in a road accident this is almost always the case whether the passenger is involved in a collision with the at-fault driver or a passenger in the car whose driver was at fault.

In the latter case there is no advantage in the passenger not claiming compensation out of some sense of loyalty even if the driver is a relative or friend.

The compensation claim will be settled by the motor insurer and in any event there will be a loss of no claims bonus and policy excess for the driver. A passenger who is injured in a road accident should thus always seek to make an injury compensation claim.

Pedestrian injuries

Pedestrian injuries are more complex in that people who have been run over can be at fault if they stepped into the road. Pedestrians injured in built up areas are more likely to succeed in making a compensation claim. Similarly if the accident occurs on a zebra crossing or pelican crossing the claim is likely to succeed. In most cases the pedestrian has the right of way and it would be necessary for the driver to show negligence and that the accident was unavoidable so as to avoid blame.

Driver injuries

If a driver is injured in a road traffic accident then another party must be shown to be at least partially to blame before an injury compensation claim can be made.

The police should always be called to the scene of a road accident if there is any injury (an offence has been committed if they are not). They will compile a report which will be available (after any criminal proceedings are completed) for a fee. It is essential the police report is obtained as it often contains important contemporary pictures of the scene from which an inference of events and hence liability can be obtained whether there is a prosecution or not.

It is not however necessary for a prosecution to be brought by the police for a successful injury compensation claim to be made. Nor indeed is a breach of the law necessarily proof of negligence or liability – but if there has been a breach of the law it will greatly assist your claim.

Generally speaking you will be able to show negligence in the following circumstances:

  • if you are in a rear end shunt and there is no damage to the front of your vehicle
  • if the other vehicle was travelling in the other direction wholly or partially in your carriageway
  • if the other vehicle was not under full control of the driver or was proceeding in an unsafe manner.

There is a great deal of case law relating to injury cases and liability but the issue of liability can be a difficult one in that almost every accident is unique is some way.

However insurers have developed a shorthand when dealing with claims that enables them to resolve them quickly and this is not always just or equitable.

For example insurers will attempt to settle most cases involving roundabouts on a 50:50 basis whether or not there is lane encroachment, someone is in the ‘wrong’ lane or inappropriate signalling etc. Similarly low speed accidents in car parks are often settled 50:50 (which means each driver pays half of the cumulative repair costs).

This is particularly likely when the same insurer – or a rebadged version of the same insurer is representing both parties – insurers are usually very large companies and this occurs far more frequently than you might think.

Whatever happens you should never admit liability at the scene.

Settlements in this way are rarely appropriate – usually someone is at fault if there is an accident – and if you feel there is any doubt over liability you should get us to undertake a free liability assessment on your behalf. Our expert accident investigators will take a look at your case and will provide an objective report as to your prospects for success, taking up your case and fighting your corner with your insurer if necessary.

All manner of injuries can result from a road accident from minor whiplash to serious head injuries and brain damage which can be life changing.

Low speed impacts can result in injuries which may not manifest themselves at the time the injury occurs.

Whiplash is probably the most common injury in non-fault cases. It occurs when the soft tissue in the spine is stretched and strained after the body is thrown in a sudden, forceful jerk – typically when a car is hit from the rear which, as outlined above are almost always non-fault cases.

On many occasions whiplash will not be apparent immediately leading the at-fault driver to believe that the injury compensation claim is fraudulent. The condition is debilitating and results in strong headaches and great discomfort which can last several weeks, sometimes longer. An ice-pack and painkillers are the most commonly used treatments although physiotherapy and other exercises can greatly assist the speed of recovery. In all circumstances you should report your injury to your doctor and a lawyer shortly after.

All accidents are different and you should seek free road traffic accident legal advice from a specialist motor accident solicitor if you have been involved in an accident. My own firm AutoMate from Quality Answers will be happy to answer your specific questions in detail.


Source by Lucy Bonham Carter