Motor Vehicle Accident: How To Claim Compensation For Injuries In A UK Road Traffic Accident
Find out what a UK motor vehicle accident claim is, how to claim compensation from the driver at fault and how long you have to start your claim before it is too late in the eyes of the law.
What is a motor vehicle accident claim?
In the United Kingdom a “motor vehicle accident claim” is a legal process to recover money to compensate you for injuries you have suffered and expenses you have incurred as a result of an accident on a road involving a motor vehicle.
A compensation claim is also known as a damages claim, as it is the damage caused to your person and your finances as a result of an accident.
How do you make a claim against the driver who was at fault for your motor vehicle accident?
A motor vehicle accident claim is commenced in the United Kingdom when your road accident solicitor sends what is known as a “letter of claim” or a “claims notification form” to the driver responsible (and the relevant motor insurer).
A “letter of claim” should include the following details:
1. Your name and address
2. A description of how your motor vehicle accident happened
3. An allegation of negligence against the driver at fault
4. A description of the driving errors which caused your RTA
5. A description of the injuries you suffered – both physical and psychiatric trauma
6. A description of your expenses as a result of the crash
It is likely that these expenses are ongoing in which case you should say this in the letter.
7. A request that any relevant documents in the possession of the driver at fault be sent to you
The law permits you to see all of these documents – so there exists an obligation on the driver to send you copies.
8. A request that the driver at fault send a copy of your letter to his motor accident insurers
There are many technical phrases that should be included in your letter of claim, so we recommend you instruct a specialist road accident claim solicitor to draft it on your behalf.
Your claim will be taken more seriously, you will receive larger amounts of compensation and you can even include your legal fees as part of your claim.
How do you start your traffic accident compensation claim at court?
The letter of claim often does not cause the guilty driver or his insurers to pay you compensation – to force this to happen you must start your claim in court or “issue proceedings”.
There is a formal process to do this, which includes completing certain court documents, paying a court fee and providing medical evidence to show exactly what injuries you have suffered.
How long after your accident do you have to start your motor vehicle accident claim?
In the UK you only have three years from the date of an accident to start your claim at court otherwise it is too late in the eyes of the law.
This time period is called a “limitation period” for obvious reasons.
There are some exceptions to the three year period which include:
1. You are under 18 years of age at the time of your accident
You have until your 21st birthday to start a claim in England and Wales. For example, if you had a road traffic accident on your 16th birthday – you would have 5 years to start your claim for compensation.
Be careful – he age at which you are considered an adult and three year time period starts to run can vary across the countries that make up the UK. For example – in Scotland you will be a considered to have reached majority at the age of 16 years.
2. You suffer in some way from a mental infirmity or incapacity either prior to or as a result of your accident
The time period to start your compensation claim will depend on how long the mental incapacity lasts.
3. You can prove the date you actually knew an injury had occurred was later than the date of your accident.
You have three years to start a compensation claim from the date of your knowledge of your injury.
Date of knowledge of injury is almost always the same date as your accident in a RTA. It is far more common that these dates can vary in, for example, an industrial disease claim when symptoms of illness often appear many years after exposure to harmful substances.
4. You are claiming compensation for a fatal accident
You have three years from the date of the accident victim’s death to start a compensation claim (claims made on behalf of surviving children will often have a longer time period to claim),
5. Your solicitor makes an application to court to extend the three year time period
If the application is successful the court can extend the three year period – but be warned it is quite rare the court will permit such an application.
If you are in anyway uncertain as to how long you have to start your UK compensation claim – contact a specialist accident solicitor immediately and avoid any unwanted legal expense by asking for a free initial consultation. Most solicitors will be happy to oblige.
Motor Vehicle Accident Summary, Free Online Help & Next Steps
This article describes motor vehicle accident claims – what they are, how and when to start your claim.
We recommend you see our accident car insurance article to learn how motor insurance pays your claim for compensation.
Should you wish to speak with one of our specialist solicitors or use our free online legal help options see our online road accident solicitor free legal help options.