motor vehicle accident

Motor Vehicle Accident: How To Claim Compensation For Injuries In A UK Road Traffic Accident

In this article we discuss how to claim compensation for personal injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident 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.

Damages Claim
A motor vehicle accident claim is also known as a damages claim. You are claiming compensation for the damage caused to your person and your finances as a result of injuries in an accident.

What are the different ways to begin your motor vehicle accident?

There are in essence three different ways (in England and Wales) to commence a personal injury claim following a motor accident, which depend on the value of the claim.

Motor vehicle accident small claims

As from 31 May 2021 – if your motor accident claim is classed as a small claim you would start your claims using the official injury claim portal.

Low value road accident claims

If the road accident claim is considered a low value personal injury claim – your solicitor will start your claim on the MIB Claims Portal.

The Claims Portal Is Different Than The Official Injury Claims Portal
The Motor Insurers Claims Portal is not the same online portal as the Official Injury Claims Portal.
The sound alike, but they are very different.
Claims Notification Form / CNF

The claim is started on the MIB claims portal using the claims notification form (often abbreviated to CNF).

Low Value Claims Are Larger Than Small Claims
A small claim is the smallest type of personal injury claim in a road accident. As of the 31 May 2021 – this was set at claims under £5,000.
A low value claim is larger than a small claim and currently assessed as up to £25,000.

Larger value motor vehicle accident claims

If your motor vehicle injury claim is larger than £25,000 – your solicitor will proceed using a traditional letter of claim (without using an online portal).

How You Start Depends On The Value Of The Claim
All processes use in essence a form of Letter Of Claim – but the letter of claim may take a different format and be given a different name, such as the Claims Notification Form.
What should a letter of claim include?

A traditional letter of claim should include the following details:

1. Your name and address
2. A description of the accident circumstances

Your description should include a number of details – including how your motor vehicle accident happened.

3. An allegation of negligence

When you make a claim, you should believe the accident was not your fault. Therefore, remember to include an allegation of negligence against the driver-at-fault

4. Driving errors which caused your RTA

Provide a description of the driving errors that actually caused your road accident and your personal injuries

5. Injuries you suffered

Include a description of the injuries you suffered – both physical and psychological trauma

6. Your financial loss and expense

Include a description of your expenses as a result of road accident and your personal injuries.

Ongoing Expenses
It is likely that these expenses are ongoing (such as lost income) – in which case you should say this in the letter of claim.
7. Request to see documentation

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. Notification to motor vehicle insurers

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 specialist road accident claim solicitors to draft it on your behalf.

Advantages Of Using A Specialist Solicitor
Your claim will be taken more seriously, you will receive larger amounts of compensation and you can even include the majority of 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.

motor vehicle accident compensation
Motor Vehicle Accident Compensation

Liability is denied / dispute as to compensation payout amount

Should liability be denied or a dispute arise as to the amount of compensation you should receive – payment can be forced by use of the courts.

Issue court proceedings

The first step is for your solicitor to start your claim in court (known as the issue of court 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 do you have to start your motor vehicle accident claim at court?

If your motor injury claim cannot be settled without the need to start court proceedings – you must be mindful of the statutory limitation period.

Issuing Protective Proceedings
Imagine you instruct a solicitor late in the day and your claim has not settled before the three year period has expired. In this instance – your solicitor may issue protective proceedings at court and then request a stay of proceedings at court.
This way limitation has been met – but the parties are still given time to negotiate without incurring unnecessary court costs.

Three year statutory limitation period

In the UK you only have three years from the date of an accident(or knowledge of injury) to start your claim at court – otherwise it is too late in the eyes of the law.

This time period is called a statutory limitation period – as the time period is stipulated in a statute (Act of Parliament).

Most Claims Settle Before Going To Court
Most motor vehicle accident claims will settle without the need to be issued at court. BUT – they must be settled within the statutory limitation period.
Those claims that are disputed or can’t be settled within the limitation period – must commence in court before the limitation period expires.
Issuing at court is however much earlier than getting to a court trial. Typically the vast majority of issued claims will be resolved long before a trial is necessary.

Exceptions to the three-year rule

There are some exceptions to the three-year period which include:

1. You are a minor / child

In England and Wales – if you are under 18 years of age at the time of your accident you are classed as a minor or a child.

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.

The Age Of Becoming An Adult Can Vary Across The UK
The age at which you are considered an adult and the three year time period starts to run can vary across the countries that make up the UK.
For example – in Scotland you will be considered to have reached majority at the age of 16 years.

2. Mental infirmity / incapacity

Should 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. Date of knowledge is later than accident date

Rarely – you may be able to prove that the date you knew you suffered injury was later than the date of your accident.

The Reasonable Person’s Date Of Knowledge
The test is not when you actually knew – but given the circumstances, a reasonable person would have realised your injury could have been caused from your motor vehicle accident.

You have three years to start a compensation claim at court – from the date of knowledge of your injury.

Knowledge The Same Date As Your Accident
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. Fatal accidents

You may be claiming compensation for a fatal accident of a loved one in a motor vehicle accident.

You have three years from the date of the accident victim’s death to start a compensation claim.

Fatal Accident Claims Made By Surviving Children
Claims made on behalf of surviving children will often have a longer time period to claim than 3 years from teh date of death.

5. Application to court to extend the time period

Your solicitor can in theory 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 (unless it is by consent).

Uncertain As To How Long You Have To Claim
Uncertain as to how long you have to start your claim?
Contact a specialist motor vehicle accident solicitor immediately.
You can avoid any unwanted legal expense by having a free initial consultation.

Summary and Next Steps

This article describes motor vehicle accident claims – what they are, how and when to start your claim.

We recommend you see our car accident insurance article – to learn how motor insurance of the driver at fault pays your personal injury compensation claim.

Free Specialist Solicitor Online / Telephone Help

Should you wish to speak with one of our specialist solicitors or use one of our free online legal help options – see our online and telephone specialist solicitor free legal help options.