Cars are the preferred mode of transportation for millions of people, with an average of 7,400 miles driven by the average car in the UK during 2019.
At the end of 2020, there were 32.6 million cars registered in the UK, with the majority of households owning at least one vehicle. With so many cars on the road each day, not to mention lorries, vans, buses, motorbikes and cyclists, accidents are bound to occur.
Although road accidents are mostly preventable, every 22 minutes, someone dies or is severely injured on UK roads. In 2020 alone, 1,516 people were killed, and over 22,000 suffered a severe injury, equivalent to 60 tragic accidents each and every day.
Car accident injuries can range from minor scrapes, lacerations and bruises to soft tissue injuries and severe back, neck and head trauma. Other than being required by law, wearing a seatbelt can go a long way to minimise the extent of your injuries.
Speeding, distracted driving, violating traffic laws, intoxication and fatigue are amongst the most common causes of road traffic accidents. Drivers owe a duty of care to car passengers and other road users and should always drive safely and carefully to avoid harming them.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury because of another party’s negligence, you might be entitled to make a car accident claim. You can also claim car accident compensation even if you were partially to blame for the accident or were the victim of a hit and run.
Can I make a car accident claim?
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident and somebody else was at fault, you could be eligible to make a car accident injury claim. You can claim compensation as a driver, passenger, cyclist or pedestrian, as long as:
- Your accident took place less than three years ago
- Another party who owed you a duty of care acted negligently
- Their negligence caused you to suffer an injury or injuries
The three-year limitation date varies in certain circumstances, like claiming on behalf of a child or for car accidents abroad. To make sure you will not miss your chance to claim compensation, you should contact a solicitor as soon as possible.
They will help you identify the responsible party for your injuries, which could be:
According to section 3 of The Road Traffic Act 1988, if an individual drives a car in a public place without due care, attention and consideration for other road users, they are guilty of an offence. If another driver causes you an injury, they must stop and give their contact and insurance details. They should also call you an ambulance if you need medical assistance.
Failing to stop after an accident is considered a criminal offence. If the authorities can’t track down the responsible driver or they are uninsured, you are still entitled to make a car accident claim through the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.
Usually, you can make a car passenger claim whether you were in the car that caused the accident or not. Seeing as it is highly unlikely you can be liable for the accident as a passenger, you are entitled to receive compensation either way.
Another road user
Pedestrians, cyclists and motorbikers also have a duty to act in a way that doesn’t endanger car drivers and other road users. By acting negligently, they might cause a distraction or collide with you. Even if they are only partially at fault, they might have to compensate you for any damages.
Road users cannot be expected to act perfectly in every situation, but they must exercise a standard of care required by law. For example, while car drivers must always give way to pedestrians at a zebra crossing, pedestrians must make sure the driver saw them and has time to stop before starting to cross the street.
A manufacturing company or repair shop
It is not uncommon for a road traffic accident to be caused or aggravated by a car defect such as defective accelerators, brakes that fail, losing control of the steering wheel, airbags that deploy unexpectedly or a seatbelt malfunction.
Mechanical malfunctions can be caused by a manufacturer’s substandard quality or the result of negligent repair by a mechanic. Either way, if a car’s unexpected malfunction caused you an injury, you may be able to claim car accident compensation from the liable party.
Poor road conditions, such as potholes, can make driving extremely dangerous. In the UK, the Department for Transport and Highways England are the main authorities responsible for major trunk road maintenance, while councils are responsible for all other local roads.
The authorities must take all reasonable steps to ensure all streets and motorways are free from potholes, debris, spillages and other hazards that may cause an accident. If you lose control of your vehicle due to poor road maintenance, it might be possible to make a car accident claim against the local authority responsible for the road.
Negligent pet owners or farmers might leave animals roaming freely on the streets. If you were injured from running into an animal or crashed while trying to avoid them, you could claim compensation from the responsible party.
You could also make a car accident claim against a parent if their child runs in the middle of the street and you suffer an injury by trying to avoid them.
If you believe your car accident was due to another negligent party, you should promptly contact a solicitor. They will help you determine who might be liable for your losses and start a car accident compensation claim against them.
How do I make a claim for a car accident injury?
If you were involved in a car accident, you should contact a solicitor even if you feel like you may be partly to blame for the accident. They will let you know if another party was even partially responsible and if you could make a successful car accident injury claim.
If you have a valid claim, you need relevant evidence to support your case, such as:
- Medical records attesting to the injuries you suffered, treatments and medication, and your recovery prospects
- Document your recovery with photographs and personal notes
- Photographs of the accident scene, captured from every angle
- Photos of the injuries you sustained and any damage to your car or personal items
- Contact details of anyone involved in the accident and insurance details of other drivers
- Contact details of any witnesses who saw how the accident took place
- Accident reports to the police, especially if you are the victim of a hit and run accident
- Copies of any CCTV or dash cam footage of the accident
- Written notes of how the accident occurred and the losses you suffered afterwards. Write down the pain and suffering you endured and how your injuries changed your life
- Keep track of all the related financial losses you incurred and keep all relevant receipts
Your solicitor will also arrange a free medical exam with a government-approved specialist to assess the full extent of your injuries and any long-term or permanent effects they might have caused you. This will serve as an essential piece of evidence in your claim.
Having strong evidence will highly increase your chances of receiving car accident compensation if another party is responsible for your injuries. Even if you think you have limited proof, your solicitor can help you get everything you need to make a strong case.
After preparing the claim, your solicitor will send a claim notification form (CNF) to the insurance company of the party you identified as liable for your accident. They will have up to four months to send you a response stating whether they accept responsibility for your damages.
If the defendant accepts liability, your solicitor will start negotiating a suitable compensation award with them. If they deny liability or can’t agree on a compensation amount, you will have to issue court proceedings and argue your claim before a judge. Although car accident claims rarely end up in court, as the vast majority of them are settled before this stage.
What are the most common causes of car accidents?
Many unfortunate situations could lead to a car accident, entitling you to make a car accident compensation claim. The top ten leading causes of car accidents in the UK in 2022 include:
- Failing to look properly was reported in 37.8% of all accidents.
- Failing to judge another person’s path or speed accounted for 19.7% of crashes.
- Careless or reckless driving contributed to 18% of accidents.
- Poor turn or manoeuvre was reported in 11.6% of collisions.
- Loss of control of the vehicle led to 11.4% of accidents.
- Slippery roads due to poor weather conditions caused 8.1% of collisions.
- Exceeding the speed limit was the main factor in 7.4% of all crashes.
- Pedestrians failing to look properly before crossing the street caused 6.7% of accidents.
- Not adjusting the speed to road conditions led to 6.2% of crashes.
- Sudden braking was reported in 4.7% of accidents.
In 2018, these factors contributed to 59,980 car accidents which required a police officer to attend the scene of the accident. In many situations, a combination of several causes such as speeding, careless driving and failing to look attentively contribute together to cause a collision. As long as another party’s negligence caused the accident, you might be able to make a car accident injury claim.
Reports from 2020 state other common factors in road traffic accidents, including:
- Drunk driving caused 3,658 or 6.3% of car collisions. Pedestrians impaired by alcohol caused an additional 701 accidents.
- Texting and driving accounted for 368 collisions (0.6%).
- Mechanical failures, including defective tyres, brakes or steering wheels, were the cause of 1,202 or 2% of all accidents.
- Being impaired by drugs was the cause of 1,546 collisions.
- Animals or objects on the road accounted for 1.1% of all accidents.
- Poor or defective road surface accounted for 2% or a number of 1,290 accidents.
If you are the victim of a car accident, you might be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries and any financial damages. Your legal adviser will consider the causes of your car crash and determine who might be responsible for your injuries. You can speak to a solicitor by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation.
What are the most common injuries from car accidents?
According to figures published by the Department for Transport, in 2020, car accidents caused 115,584 casualties of all severities, which was a 25% decrease compared to 2019. This decrease is at least partly due to the coronavirus pandemic and all the changes it brought to the country.
In 2021, the numbers remained roughly the same, with 119,850 casualties in the year ending June 2021. Most accidents caused minor to moderate injuries; however, 24,530 people were unfortunately killed or severely injured in a car accident.
Data from 2019 shows that in Great Britain, more male car drivers, pedestrians and cyclists were killed or seriously injured across all age groups. A total of 2,240 males between 25 and 59 years old were killed or seriously injured while riding a bike compared to 566 females. In 2019, 568 men aged between 25 and 29 were involved in a severe or fatal accident, compared to 288 women.
If you suffered any kind of injury in a car accident without being at fault, you could claim car accident compensation. The most common injuries reported can be classified according to severity:
Slight injuries are common in accidents and don’t usually need immediate medical assistance. Some of them can be treated at home, but it’s always advisable to seek medical advice to prevent further complications.
Furthermore, a medical record of your injury is essential to make a car accident claim. Minor injuries include:
- Cuts, lacerations and abrasions
- Sprains and strains
- Minor burns
Moderate injuries can usually be treated at the accident site or in the A&E department, and do not require hospitalisation. They are not life-changing and usually heal completely within several weeks or months. Mild injuries include:
- Deep cuts and lacerations
- Severely torn ligaments and muscle tears
- Dislocations and slipped spinal disks
- Bruised or broken ribs
- Head injuries that haven’t caused brain damage
- Fractured lower leg or foot
- Fractured arm, wrist or collarbone
Moderate to severe injuries are serious, potentially life-changing injuries with permanent consequences that usually require some time in the hospital and subsequent physical therapy. Examples include:
- Amputations of a body party
- Fractured hip, pelvis or upper leg
- Deep penetrating wounds
- Multiple moderately severe injuries
- Neck and back fractures without damage to the spinal cord
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), causing significant disability for an extended period
Severe injuries can be life-threatening without prompt medical intervention and will likely have mild to debilitating long-time effects. In the most severe cases, the victim may become totally dependent upon others. These include:
- Spinal cord injuries, which may cause paraplegia, quadriplegia and loss of body functions
- Internal organ injuries
- Severe chest injuries with difficulty breathing
- Multiple severe injuries and unconsciousness
- Traumatic brain injuries
Fatalities – sadly, around five people lose their lives in car accidents each day in the UK. You can also claim car accident compensation if a loved one died due to another party’s negligence.
How much is my car accident compensation claim worth?
The amount of compensation you might be entitled to receive if you have a valid car accident claim really depends on the type and severity of your injuries and the related financial losses you incurred. In every personal injury claim, you can receive compensation for:
Special damages to reimburse you for all your financial expenses, both future and present, including:
- Medical expenses, including medication, treatment, hospitalisation and travel expenses
- Time off work and both present and future wages
- Costs of care and help with daily activities, even if offered by friends or family
- Private medical care
- Costs of rehabilitation and therapy
- Any adaptations to your home or vehicle
- Any medical equipment you might need, such as mobility aids
- Repair or replacement of damaged property
General damages are awarded for pain, suffering, and the impact your injuries had on your life. This will include an assessment of:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and psychological trauma
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Physical and mental impairment
- Lowered life quality and enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Loss of a unique career
- Inability to pursue a hobby
Compensation for special damages is calculated by adding all the reasonable financial expenses related to the accident. It is not that easy to determine how much general damages are worth since they are subjective and differ from one individual to another.
The Judicial College offers guidelines that solicitors use when calculating compensation for general damages. According to them, you could receive:
- £240 to £4,345 for whiplash, depending on how long symptoms may last
- £5,630 to £16,380 for a simple arm fracture
- £82,040 to £255,930 for amputation of one or both arms, depending on the amputated area
- £20,900 to £51,070 for a severe wrist injury with permanent disability or loss of function
- £15,320 to £46,780 for a moderate leg injury that might cause mobility issues in the future
- £71,640 to £171,920 if amputation of one or both feet is necessary
- £6,680 to £19,39 for severe body scarring
- £10,750 to £33,430 for pelvis or hip injuries with no severe disability
- £2,090 to £10,670 for a minor back injury with complete recovery between 3 months to 5 years
- £56,100 to £139,210 for a severe neck injury leading to permanent disability and chronic pain
- £26,010 to £38,850 for a severe face injury resulting in scarring, disfigurement and chronic pain
- £1,880 to £10,890 for a minor head injury with recovery within a few weeks
- £240,590 to £344,640 for severe head injuries causing severe disability or vegetative state
It is not uncommon to suffer multiple injuries in a car accident. In this case, the compensation is calculated by adding reduced amounts for less severe injuries to the upper bracket awarded for the most severe trauma.
For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410. They can give you an estimate of your compensation prospects and answer any questions you may have.
What is the time limit to make a car accident claim?
In every personal injury claim, the last date you can start legal proceedings is known as the claim limitation date. Usually, this will be three years after having a car accident, after which your case becomes time-barred, and you can no longer claim compensation.
The claim limitation date will not be three years from the accident date in certain circumstances, such as:
- If you show symptoms of an injury later after the accident, which can often happen when you suffer whiplash, the three-year countdown begins on the date of knowledge of your injury. That is the day you became aware of your condition, or a doctor gave you a diagnosis.
- There is no time limit to claim car accident compensation on behalf of a child who suffered an injury before they turn 18 years old. If a claim is not made on their behalf, they will have another three years to start their own claim as an adult.
- A family member or another litigation friend can claim compensation for a victim lacking mental capacity at any point. If a victim regains intellectual ability after a traumatic brain injury, severe depression, or another incapacitating condition, they will have three years to start a car accident claim.
- In case of a fatal accident, a close family member or another dependant can claim car accident compensation within three years after the date of the victim’s death.
- If your injuries were not caused by negligence but were deliberate, you might be eligible to claim compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) within two years.
- You can also claim compensation for a car accident that happened abroad. Time limits in other countries can vary significantly, so it’s advised you seek legal advice as soon as possible, as you might have as little as six months to start a claim. However, you might still be able to claim under UK law, depending on your circumstances.
Regardless of what limitation date might apply to your case, it is always better to contact a legal adviser as soon as possible. It might take several months to collect evidence and prepare all the legal documents. Most solicitors won’t accept a case if there isn’t enough time remaining to make a car accident injury claim.
How long do car accident claims take?
There is no fixed time it might take for your claim to settle. It can vary significantly, depending on the circumstances of your accident, the estimated compensation value and the defendant’s position. According to the Ministry of Justice, straightforward road traffic accidents take between 4 and 9 months to settle.
If you have pressing financial needs, your solicitor can arrange for you to receive interim payments. You could ask for part of your compensation to be paid in advance if:
- You are unable to work due to your injuries, and you need to cover urgent expenses
- The defendant accepted liability or was found responsible for your injuries
- The court believes the final compensation will likely exceed the interim payment
Some factors that will likely influence how long your car accident claim will take include:
- The type and severity of the injuries you sustained. If you suffer very severe or multiple trauma, a comprehensive medical assessment of long-time and permanent effects could take years to conclude.
- The estimated value of your claim. Fast track claims worth less than £25,000 can be settled by your solicitor alone, but if you have a multitrack claim valued at over £25,000, you might have to attend court, which can significantly add to the time required to receive compensation.
- The accident circumstances. If another road user acted in a manner that clearly makes them liable for your injuries, the claim could settle much faster. If the other driver failed to stop or was uninsured, you will have to make a car accident compensation claim through the MIB, which will likely take longer.
- How long it might take to gather all the relevant evidence for a strong claim. If you need an independent medical assessment, this might add several months to the duration of your car accident claim.
- Whether the defendant accepts liability. If they admit the accident was due to their negligence, you can start negotiating a settlement out of court, which will take a lot less time than going before a judge. After you agree on a compensation award, you will usually receive payment within 2 to 4 months.
- If you have to go to court, this could be a lengthy process, and it might take up to 12 months to receive a court date. Usually, the court hearing lasts up to 3-5 days, after which the judge will assess liability and decide on a fair compensation award. The defendant could appeal, which will extend the duration of your claim.
- All child injury claims must go through an Infant Approval Hearing before a judge, who will decide if they are getting fair compensation for their injuries. Therefore, child accident claims will usually take longer.
The sooner you contact a solicitor, the sooner you may get the car accident compensation you deserve. This will make it easier to collect evidence, witnesses are more likely to provide witness statements, and you might remember essential details that could change the course of your claim.
To make a car accident claim, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation.
Will I be offered a no win no fee service?
An initial free conversation with a legal adviser will help them understand the circumstances of your accident, who might be the liable party, and what are your chances of success. If your case seems solid, they will offer you a no win no fee agreement.
Also known as a conditional fee agreement, this is the preferred way of funding a personal injury claim. There are no upfront fees, no hidden charges, and most importantly, you don’t have to pay anything if you lose your case.
This way, you can claim for the car accident compensation you deserve without putting you and your family at any financial risk.
Before starting legal proceedings, your solicitor will take out an After the Event (ATE) insurance policy on your behalf. This covers the legal costs you would otherwise be required to pay, both for you and the defendant, if you lose your car accident injury claim.
In a no win no fee claim, you are only expected to pay your solicitor’s fees if they secure the compensation you deserve. The success fee cannot exceed 25% of the award for general damages and past financial expenses, and you will agree upon it before starting the claim.
Can I claim for a car accident caused by poor road conditions?
According to data from 2020, road conditions accounted for 3,172 accidents in Great Britain or 5.4% of all collisions. Slippery roads due to weather conditions add for another 4,644 accidents (7.7%). Contributory road factors included:
- Poor or defective road surfaces, including potholes and sinkholes
- Deposits on the road, such as oil spillages, mud or debris
- Inadequate or masked signs and road markings
- Defective traffic signals
- Road bumps or chicanes
- Slippery inspection covers or road markings
If you had a car accident due to poor road conditions, you should report the accident to the police or your local council and bring their attention to the problem, making sure they acknowledge it. This can serve as essential evidence if you want to claim compensation from the responsible authorities.
Even the most careful driver can lose control of a vehicle due to faulty roads, making a car accident injury even more distressing and unfair. Depending on the location of your accident, you might be able to make a claim against Highways England or the local council responsible for the road in question.
It is their responsibility to maintain the roads to a safe standard. Your solicitor will help identify the authority responsible for road maintenance in the area you had your accident. You are entitled to claim compensation for vehicle damages, physical and emotional trauma and other financial losses.
The authorities have a duty to repair any road defects within a reasonable timeframe and make sure that all traffic signs and markings are visible and in good condition.
Besides calling the police, you should take photographs of the road hazard that caused your accident. If there are any witnesses, ask for their contact details. This evidence will support your claim and increase your chances to receive car accident compensation.
Can I claim for a car accident caused by an animal?
Hitting an animal is always a distressing accident. Regardless of whether it’s a wild animal, a pet or a farm animal, you should stop the car, call the police and contact an organisation that can help with vet treatment if the animal is still alive. It is illegal to leave the accident scene if you hit certain animals, such as dogs, horses, cattle, pigs, goats or sheep.
Data shows that the number of wildlife hit on UK roads between June and August 2021 increased by 54% compared to the same months in 2019. This could be due to a decrease in overseas holidaying over that period because of the coronavirus restrictions.
It is estimated that 88 wild animals are hit every day across Britain’s highways, amounting to almost 32,000 accidents every year. Deer are the primary wildlife involved in car accidents, making up 61% of all car accidents involving animals.
The average cost of vehicle damage after hitting a deer is estimated at around £2,400, but it is unfortunately unlikely that you can claim compensation for an accident caused by a wild animal.
According to the Animals Act 1971, the keep or owner of a domesticated animal is strictly liable for any damage caused by hitting their animal. This would entitle you to make a car accident claim against the owner.
Nonetheless, they might not have an insurance policy to cover them against such a claim and might not be able to afford to pay you compensation. An experienced solicitor can let you know what options you have if you had a car accident due to an animal.
Can I claim for a car accident that happened abroad?
If you were involved in a car accident abroad, dealing with the language barrier and cultural differences might make the situation even more distressful. If you suffered severe injuries, you might not be able to return home for a while, making things even more difficult for you and your family.
Nonetheless, if your accident was due to another person’s negligence, you could still make a car accident claim.
The EU Motor Insurance legislation states that EU insurers must appoint UK representatives to handle compensation claims for accidents abroad. This will allow you to avoid some complications caused by cultural differences.
Just like in any other accident, you should take photographs of the accident scene, seek immediate medical attention for your injuries, and get the contact details of anyone involved, including witnesses. An accident report to the police will also be an important piece of evidence if you want to claim compensation.
In any European country, you will have to compile a European Accident Statement (EAS) about how the accident occurred, which will support your car accident compensation claim. Do not sign the EAS until you fully understand the situation, and make sure you get a signed copy of the statement.
If you were involved in an accident with an uninsured driver or in a hit and run in a foreign country, you may still be able to claim compensation through the country’s equivalent of the MIB.
Making a car accident claim after an accident abroad can be costly and complicated. You should seek legal advice as soon as possible. The limitation date to make a claim can be as short as six months in some countries.
While you won’t be protected by EU agreements, you should still be able to make a car accident claim in any other country outside the EU.
For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410. They can tell you more about claiming for an accident that happened abroad and answer any questions you may have.
Can I claim if I was partly at fault for a car accident?
You can still claim car accident compensation even if you were partially at fault for your injuries. It is not uncommon for both parties to hold some degree of responsibility. This is known as contributory negligence or split liability. Examples include:
- Not wearing a seatbelt
- Not looking properly before crossing the street
- Turning right while being overtaken
- Emerging from side roads
- Sudden braking and rear-end crashes
- Failing to signal or misleading signalling
- Getting in the car with an intoxicated driver
- Poor turns or manoeuvres
In contributory negligence claims, it is not so straightforward to assess liability. If the court establishes you had more than 50% of the blame for the accident, you will likely be denied car accident compensation.
You will need to provide solid evidence like photographs of the accident scene or witness statements to prove the other party had the most blame. Your solicitor will give you all the help and advice you need to make a strong claim.
If you can make a successful claim, the compensation you receive will be reduced accordingly to reflect the degree of your responsibility. For example, if it’s decided you are 25% to blame for the accident, your compensation award will be 25% less than it would have been if you had no blame for the accident.
Can I claim if a family member died in a fatal car crash?
If you lose a loved one in a car accident, no amount of compensation could ever replace your loss, but it can give you the financial security to cope with daily life while you can focus on your healing process.
Your solicitor will calculate a suitable compensation award based on the financial impact of the loss on your family, funeral expenses and the pain and suffering you endured.
Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, a dependent of someone killed in a car accident without being at fault could make a car accident claim within three years after they passed away. The dependent could be:
- A spouse or former spouse
- A civil partner or someone cohabiting with the victim for at least two years
- Children, including adopted and stepchildren
- Parents, grandparents or great grandparents
- Step-parents and guardians
- Close family members such as siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, nephews or nieces
In fatal car accident claims, the compensation award will cover:
- Financial expenses, including funeral costs, legal costs of dealing with their estate, medical expenses for treatments and medicine, costs of care, etc.
- Lost earnings, if you or another family member took time off work to care for the victim before they passed away.
- Loss of services if the deceased performed housework, childcare, gardening or other chores.
- Dependency losses, if you or your family were depending on their income.
- The pain, suffering and loss of amenity they endured before passing away.
If a loved one died in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, you might also be able to claim a bereavement payment. It is a fixed award of £12,980 paid to the spouse or the parents if the victim was a child, regardless of dependency losses.