Lorries are an essential part of the UK economy, transporting food, goods and other cargo across the country and further afield. Lorries and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) require a special license to operate, and drivers must follow particular regulations to keep themselves and other road users safe.
Any road traffic accident can be terrifying and have severe long-term consequences. Due to their size and weight, accidents involving a lorry or HGV are particularly dangerous and more likely to cause a life-changing or fatal injury.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), in 2019, 251 people were killed, 1,111 severely injured, and 4,172 slightly injured in a road accident involving an HGV in the UK. Some of the most common causes of an accident include failure to look properly, fatigue, substance abuse and faulty vehicles.
Employers of lorry drivers must follow the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and ensure they receive adequate training and equipment for the job. A HGV accident can cause a wide range of injuries, including severe fractures, soft tissue injuries, brain injuries and psychological trauma both to the driver and other road users.
If you were injured in a lorry accident as an employee, pedestrian or another road user, you could be eligible to make a lorry accident claim. The compensation award could cover the pain and suffering caused by your injury and any related financial expenses.
If you feel you may have a valid claim for compensation, call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back to receive a free consultation with a legal adviser. If they accept your case, you will be offered a no win no fee service. This means there are no upfront costs, and you do not have to pay anything if you lose your HGV accident claim.
Can I make a lorry accident claim?
Usually, you should be eligible to make a claim whenever another party causes you an injury by acting negligently. A free consultation with a legal adviser can let you know if you qualify for a lorry accident claim. You should be entitled to compensation if:
- Another party breached their duty of care towards you by acting negligently
- Their negligence caused an HGV or lorry accident
- You suffered an injury as a result of this accident within the last three years
If you have been involved in an HGV accident, you could make a claim whether you were:
- The driver of another vehicle involved in the lorry accident
- Another road user, such as a pedestrian, car passenger, cyclist or motorcycle rider
- The lorry driver, even if you are self-employed
The employers of lorry drivers and also the employees themselves owe you a duty of care as stated by the relevant legislation:
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992, it is an employer’s duty to protect the health and safety of employees, including self-employed workers and other members of the public. They must carry out regular risk assessments and take appropriate measures to reduce risks, such as:
- Advise employees on the risks identified, even if they seem obvious
- Ensure adequate training and appropriate equipment is provided
- Double check traffic routes, including bridges
- Make sure vehicles are well-maintained and up to date with servicing
- Provide assistance during loading and unloading of HGV and reversing manoeuvres
- Ensure separated and signposted pedestrian, warehouse and delivery traffic
A lorry accident may also happen at haulage depots and not just on the road. These are commonly caused by slips, trips and falls, improper loading of vehicles and working at a height without proper equipment.
According to the Road Traffic Act 1988, all drivers of HGVs must safeguard their own safety as well as the safety of the general public by:
- Following the specific training received for the job
- Report any vehicle defects
- Take regular breaks as required by the law
- Do not use the telephone or other distractions while driving
- Follow the road safety and vehicle rules specific to lorries
- Do not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs or when fatigued
If you or someone you love suffered an injury due to a lorry accident that was not your fault, you might be eligible for compensation. To find out if you have a valid HGV accident claim, enter your details into our online claim form or call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a legal adviser.
What are the main causes of HGV and lorry accidents?
Driving heavy goods vehicles poses some specific risks and safety hazards related to their weight, size and loads. Some of the most common causes leading to a lorry accident for which you could claim compensation include:
Tailgating or overtaking
Overtaking is one of the main causes of road traffic accidents, especially relevant to a lorry or HGV, as they have more blind spots compared to other vehicles. Tailgating is a very dangerous practice that could lead to a rear-end collision. Due to its weight, a lorry will take significantly longer to stop if the vehicle ahead has to brake.
Failure to look properly
When changing lanes or pulling out from a junction or premises, it is essential to thoroughly check that the road is free from pedestrians and other road users. Lorry drivers need to pay particular attention during manoeuvres, as HGVs have four large blind spots. They also need extra room and might occupy more than one lane when making a turn.
Driving while tired or under the influence
It is common for lorry drivers to be on the road for many hours without rest. Drowsy driving reduces attention, reaction time, the ability to make decisions and other relevant driving skills. This is not so different from driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, including over the counter medicine that may cause drowsiness.
There are strict rules in the UK dictating that a driver should not be behind the wheel for longer than nine hours a day and 56 hours per week. Drivers must also take at least a 45 minutes break after driving no more than four and a half hours.
Poor weather conditions
Weather conditions such as rain, ice and heavy winds can be particularly hazardous when driving a lorry or HGV. Heavy rain or snow can cause longer braking distances and lead to aquaplaning and losing control of the vehicle. High winds can cause HGVs to tip over, especially when unloaded. It is essential to drive slower than usual in poor weather conditions.
Speeding is never a good idea, especially when driving such a large and heavy vehicle. An HGV takes more time to respond to braking and wheel movements, and speeding is an easy way to lose control of the vehicle, often with catastrophic results. Lorry drivers must always stay within the speed limits and adjust it according to the weather conditions.
Bridge strikes and collisions are drastically increasing and have caused death and severe injuries to those involved in such accidents. Across the UK, there are over 2,000 bridge strikes every year reported by rail networks alone, costing the taxpayer around £23m in damages and delays.
Lorry drivers must know the height and width of the vehicle they are driving and should not attempt to cross or go under a bridge if they are not sure the lorry will fit. There are special satellite navigation systems made for HGVs that are programmed to avoid low bridges and prevent these types of accidents from occurring.
Employers have a duty to maintain all HGVs to a certain standard and ensure periodic safety inspections. All drivers should regularly check the condition of their vehicle and the tyres before each journey. Lorries should also undergo an annual MOT test to check for any faults or malfunctioning.
Poorly loaded vehicles
The securing of loads during transport is a topic of concern for the Health and Safety Executive. Between 1999 and 2003, 60 people were killed and 5,000 suffered severe injuries due to poorly stacked objects falling over in the road transport industry (see HSE).
Poor loading or overloading of HGVs increases the risk of tipping over or losing control of the vehicle. Furthermore, poorly secured cargo can shift during transit, causing a hazard for the driver during unloading, with potentially fatal consequences.
Whatever the cause of the lorry accident you were involved in, even if it was not listed here, you might be entitled to compensation. To find out if you have a valid HGV accident claim, call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser. Alternatively, you can enter your details into our online claim form to receive a call back.
What should I do if I’m involved in a lorry accident?
Being involved in an accident with an HGV or lorry can be a terrifying event. If another party is liable for your injuries, you may be eligible for a lorry accident claim. HGV claims are no different than a usual personal injury claim following a road traffic accident.
Your claim will usually be against the HGV or lorry driver’s employer. You will need evidence to prove that the lorry driver or operator caused the accident by acting negligently. Even if you do not have relevant proof to support your case, your solicitor can help you gather everything you need to secure compensation.
There are several steps it is advisable you take after a lorry accident, such as:
- Check if you or anyone else involved in the accident is injured and wait for an ambulance if you were severely hurt. Otherwise, visit the A&E department or your GP as soon as possible. A medical record detailing the extent of your injury, the treatments you received and your recovery prospects will serve as essential evidence in your subsequent lorry accident claim.
- Get the HGV driver’s details, including their name, license plate and insurance details. You might feel at fault for the incident, but you should not say anything that might be seen as an admission of guilt. In some cases, you may be partially at fault for the accident. Although this can impact the amount of compensation you receive, it does not prevent you from making a claim.
- Get the contact details of any witnesses and, if their vehicle has a dash cam, ask for a copy of the footage. Witness statements can help support your version of the events and prove that someone else was at fault for the accident.
- If possible, take photographs or a video of the accident scene before the vehicles are moved.
- Take photographs of your injuries, which may be used in support of other medical evidence.
- Make an accident report with the lorry or HGV business that owns the vehicle responsible for the collision, stating your details and involvement in the accident.
- If there are any injuries or you are blocking the traffic, report the accident to the emergency services.
- Keep a diary of any out of pocket expenses you incurred because of the lorry accident, such as lost wages.
The more proof you can gather, the easier it is to prove a breach of duty and build a strong HGV accident claim. Your solicitor will contact the liable party and inform them of your allegations of negligence.
If the defendant admits liability, you will start negotiating a settlement. Otherwise, you may have to argue your case before a judge, but it rarely comes to this, as more than 95% of all personal injury claims settle out of court.
To start your lorry accident claim, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation.
Can I claim against the lorry driver’s employer?
Employers of lorry drivers must protect the health and safety of employees and other members of the public, including road users. If the driver of a lorry or HGV causes a road traffic accident, their employer could be liable for any resulting injuries.
In UK law, the concept of vicarious liability makes employers responsible for the conduct of their employees while on the job. They may also be responsible for a lorry accident by failing to:
- Hire a qualified driver
- Provide proper training to the HGV or lorry driver
- Carry out regular vehicle maintenance and annual MOT tests
- Consult with employees on health and safety matters
- Provide adequate personal protective equipment when necessary
- Ensure that banksmen are available to oversee reversing manoeuvres and the loading and unloading of vehicles
- Check the traffic routes for low bridges and other hazards
If you suffered an injury due to a lorry accident, you could make a claim against the employer as:
- A general road user, according to the vicarious liability laws, if the driver of the HGV caused the lorry accident by acting negligently. While public liability insurance is not compulsory, it is essential for businesses that use HGVs. Paying compensation without this cover in case of vicarious liability can be incredibly costly.
- An employee, if you were injured while driving or handling the cargo, if your employer failed to comply with the health and safety regulations dictated by regulations such as The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 and the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
For example, you could claim against your employer if they required you to drive with an unstable load or without taking enough breaks. The Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 ensures that employers have at least a minimum level of insurance cover against personal injury claims.
Whether you have a vicarious liability or an accident at work case, your claim will ultimately be against the employer’s insurance company. To find out if you have a valid lorry accident claim, call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser.
How much compensation can I claim for a lorry accident?
The amount of compensation you might receive if your HGV accident claim is successful depends on several factors, including:
- The type and extent of the injuries you suffered
- The circumstances of the accident and whether you held any part of the blame
- Any lost wages and out of pocket expenses the accident caused you
- Your recovery prospects and long-term effects of your injuries
At the beginning of your claim, your solicitor will consider the pain and suffering you endured and how the lorry accident affected your life to calculate a suitable compensation award. In any personal injury claim, the compensation award will usually cover:
Special damages for financial losses and expenses related to the accident, such as:
- Lost wages if you had to take time off work during recovery
- Medical expenses such as consultation fees, hospital stay, medication and diagnostic tests
- Costs of physiotherapy and psychological counselling
- Transportation costs to and from the hospital or GP for ongoing visits
- Adaptations to your home or vehicle
- Mobility aids or prostheses
- Loss of earning capacity if your injuries do not allow you to return to work
- Costs of care and assistance, even if provided by a family member
- Repairs or replacement of damaged property
- Any other financial losses or expenses you can account for
General damages awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, including:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Psychological trauma and mental distress
- Physical injury and impairment
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Inability to pursue a hobby or social activities
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Solicitors, courts and insurers use the Judicial College guidelines to calculate a suitable lorry accident compensation award for general damages. According to them, you could get:
- £39,170 – £130,930 for a severe arm injury causing permanent restriction and disability
- £240 – £4,345 for whiplash, depending on how long it may take to resolve
- £36,240 – £44,630 for a severe neck injury causing chronic symptoms
- £12,510 – £38,780 for a moderate back injury leading to constant pain and discomfort
- £39,170 – £54,830 for a severe elbow injury causing complete movement restriction
- £17,960 – £48,420 for significant facial disfigurement causing psychological damage
- £2,210 – £12,770 for mild head injuries that have not caused brain damage
- £282,010 – £403,990 for extremely severe brain injuries leaving the victim in a vegetative state
- £61,910 – £78,400 for a severe pelvis or hip injury that may cause disability and sexual dysfunction
- Up to £26,190 for a moderate knee injury causing minor disability
- £97,980 – £282,010 for an extremely severe leg injury that requires amputation above or below the knee
How long do I have to claim for a HGV accident?
If you suffered an injury in a lorry accident without being at fault, you can usually bring a claim within three years after the incident. The claim limitation date is the last day on which you could issue legal proceedings. If you do not bring a claim within the applicable time limit, your case becomes statute-barred, and you may lose your right to compensation.
In certain circumstances, the three-year countdown does not begin on the date of the accident. For example:
- If your symptoms become evident later after the accident, as it often happens in the case of whiplash, you can start a claim within three years from the date of knowledge of your injury. This refers to the date you became aware of your condition or received a medical diagnosis.
- There is no time limit to claim compensation on behalf of a child who suffered an injury, regardless of when the accident happened. The three-year countdown begins once the victim turns 18 and can legally make an HGV accident claim as an adult.
- A litigation friend could claim compensation at any time on behalf of a lorry accident victim who lacks the mental capacity to conduct legal proceedings. Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, an adult is considered a protected party and unable to claim if they suffer from:
- A mental disorder, such as PTSD, bipolar disorder or major depression
- An intellectual disability such as Down syndrome
- A neurodegenerative disease such as dementia
- Being in a coma or having suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury
- If the victim regains their intellectual ability, they will have three years to start an HGV accident claim if one has not already been made on their behalf.
- If a loved one passed away due to a lorry accident that was not their fault, a close family member could claim compensation within three years after the date of their death.
- If you had an accident with an HGV outside the UK, you might still be able to claim compensation. The time limits to make a claim can vary significantly in other countries, so you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Depending on your circumstances, you might still be able to claim under UK law.
After a traumatic lorry accident, claiming compensation may not be at the forefront of your mind. However, a lorry accident claim can offer you the financial stability and support you need so you can focus on recovery. Furthermore, your solicitor might be able to arrange for treatments that are not always available through the NHS.
As a general rule, the sooner you start your claim, the easier it is to gather evidence, remember details about the accident and build a strong HGV accident claim. Preparing the case can take many months, and most solicitors will not accept a claim with less than six months left to start legal proceedings.
Can I make a lorry injury claim using no win no fee?
Usually, any valid claim for personal injury compensation can be funded by using a no win no fee service. The easiest way to find out if you can claim is a free consultation with a legal adviser. If they believe you have a fair chance to win the case, your solicitor will offer their services without asking for any upfront fees.
They will also take an After the Event (ATE) insurance policy on your behalf, which provides full financial coverage if you lose your lorry accident claim. The ATE insurance covers:
- The legal costs and expenses involved in the claiming process
- The defendant’s solicitor fees
- Barrister and expert witness fees, if your case goes to court
The most important advantage of a no win no fee service is that you do not have to pay anything if your lorry accident claim is unsuccessful. It aims to offer every victim of negligence the chance to pursue compensation for their injuries, regardless of their financial situation.
If your solicitor believes they can secure the compensation you deserve, they will offer their support and advice at the risk of not getting paid if you lose the claim. You only have to pay anything if you win your claim. The solicitor’s fee, also known as the success fee, cannot exceed 25% of your compensation award and will be thoroughly discussed with you before taking on your case.