How to claim compensation after a road accident
If you suffered an injury as a result of a road traffic accident, you may be entitled to compensation. However, when an incident on the road occurs, there are things you need to do before you can consider making a claim. In this guide, we explain what you need to do in a road accident, what’s expected of you in the eyes of the law and how you can start your compensation claim.
What to do in a road traffic accident
A road traffic accident can be distressing, traumatising and leave you feeling shaken and not in the right mindset to make the best decisions. It’s understandable to feel disoriented after a car accident, but if you don’t report an accident you were involved in to the police, you may be breaking the law. However, this only applies if you haven’t supplied your name to anyone involved in the incident or if the incident was serious, resulted in major injuries or if debris was left in the road. As for minor car accidents, there’s no need to inform the police as long as you exchange details with everyone involved.
If you’re a driver and someone else is injured, there’s damage to another vehicle or someone’s property, an animal outside of your vehicle is injured or killed, or if you weren’t involved in the incident but your vehicle was, you must:
- stay at the scene of the incident for a reasonable period of time
- provide details such as your name, address, vehicle registration and owner name if it isn’t you to anyone involved in the incident
- provide these details to a police officer at the scene of the incident if there is one. If you’re not able to do this, report to a police station within 24 hours of the incident taking place
- if someone is injured, you should also present your certificate of insurance to them and anyone else involved in the incident. If you don’t have your car insurance information with you, you should aim to present it at the police station when you report the incident, but you have seven days to give proof of your insurance
You can still choose to report a road accident through traditional methods such as via phone or in person, and the process of reporting a road traffic accident is effectively the same however you do it. However, by reporting the accident on the website of your local police force, you’re able to explain the incident in full, store all information online and upload your own evidence, such as dashcam footage and pictures taken at the scene.
How to report a road traffic accident
Although you were previously only able to report a road accident in person at a police station or directly to a police officer, advances to technology and changes to Section 170 of the Road Traffic 1988 have made it possible to do this in different ways. You are now able to report a road traffic accident by phone, internet or other suitable forms of technology.
To report a road traffic accident, it would be advisable to keep notes of as many details from the incident as you can remember. For example, it would help to remember information about where, when and how it happened and the make and model of all vehicles. You should also make a note of the contact information of everyone involved and specific details of damage to vehicles, the area and individuals that were harmed as a result of the incident.
Do you have to report a road traffic accident?
There are three parties you’d typically report a road traffic accident to: the police, your car insurance provider and a personal injury lawyer if you were looking to claim compensation after suffering an injury from the incident, with each carrying different rules.
Reporting to the police –
It is a legal requirement to report a road traffic accident to the police in the circumstances described above and you have 24 hours to do this. If you fail to do this within the given timeframe, it’s likely to result in a fine, driving ban or even a prison term.
Reporting to your car insurance provider –
After a road accident, you should report it to your car insurance provider, even if you don’t intend on making a claim. Unlike third party and third party, fire and left only cover, if you have comprehensive cover, any damage from a car accident should be covered.
If you don’t want to claim on your insurance, you need to specify this when you tell them about the accident, but even this may affect your no claims discount. However, it may be worth claiming if your vehicle was damaged in the incident. For further details on this, you should follow the instructions set out by your insurer in the policy document.
Reporting to a personal injury solicitor –
Whether you decide to make a compensation claim is completely up to you, but if you do, you need to make sure that you’re abiding by the relevant time limits. Claims for this type of compensation need to be made within three years of the incident taking place.
How long does a road traffic accident claim take?
The duration of a road traffic accident claim from making it to having it settled typically depends on two key factors: the person at fault accepting responsibility for the incident and the extent of your injuries.
The process can be delayed if the person you’re making a claim against refuses to accept fault and your injuries heal during the process of claiming. However, you could reduce the chances of either factor being an issue by keeping evidence of the incident to prove the other person was at fault and obtaining a medical report to prove the validity of your injuries.
Without any delay, a compensation claim for a road accident could take as little as six to twelve months, but it’s possible for cases to go on far longer.