Legal advice if you have a road accident

PUBLISHED: 13:24 18 March 2011 | UPDATED: 17:33 20 February 2013

Legal advice if you have a road accident

Legal advice if you have a road accident

It's something we all dread but most have experienced: so just what do you need to do if you're involved in a road accident?

Legal advice if you have a road accident

Its something we all dread but most have experienced: so just what do you need to do if youre involved in a road accident?

Most of us, at some point in our lives, hear that terrible sound of another vehicle crunching into your own. It can be the start of what seems to be a long, costly and time-consuming process of trying to put things right and getting you back on the road.

Sometimes it is not just the car which needs fixing but the occupants as well. Injuries can range from a minor bump and bruise to life-altering ones. They will generally involve seeing a solicitor in order for you to get the compensation to which you are entitled from the other drivers insurer.

It has always been a recurring complaint that this process can seem to take forever. While it is true that very serious cases can take several years to conclude, the average seems to be about nine to12 months.

To try and speed things up for less serious injuries, a new scheme has been introduced to regulate claims for compensation for accidents occurring after 30 April 2010 that are worth between 1000 and 10,000. It is all dealt with electronically between solicitors and insurance companies and it should be feasible for a claim to be settled in as little as three months.

To make sure that this can be done it becomes vitally important to make sure that you give your solicitor the right information and take the right steps after your accident. So if you have had a car accident, this is what you should do:

1) Safety first-if no one is seriously injured move your car so it is not blocking the road. If possible, and you have a camera handy, take a picture of the cars as they have come to rest

2) If somebody is injured, then you have a duty to call the police

3) Take the name and address of the other driver and note down the make, model and colour of their car, the registration number and if they have them, their insurance details

4) If there were any witnesses, ask them for their name, address and telephone number

5) Do not accept responsibility for the accident even if you think it is your fault. You may not have been aware of all the circumstances surrounding the accident which might affect liability

6) If the other party admits responsibility, write down what they said, when and to whom

7) If you are injured, either go to the hospital if you need immediate treatment or your GP later on. It is important that your medical condition is noted as soon after as practical

8) Do not leave the accident until you have swopped details, or if the police are there, until they give permission

9) Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.

If you have been injured and want to bring a claim, either as a passenger or the driver, then all solicitors are happy to act under a no win, no fee agreement, so it shouldnt cost you anything to bring a case. It is up to you to use whichever firm of solicitors you wish to and you dont have to use the firm that your insurers recommend.

Keep any receipts for travel, prescription or other items you have had to buy as a result of the accident as you can reclaim these. Similarly, you can recover the cost of repairs, hire cars, insurance excesses and loss of earnings among other losses.

Although as a nation we have one of Europes better road traffic accident rates, in 2009 crash, bang, wallop still happened over 300,000 times.

It is sadly inevitable that they will always occur, but make sure that unlike Tommy Steel, you get more than half a sixpence if it happens to you.

Profile

Matthew Woodhams is an associate at Whitehead Monckton and head of personal injury. He is experienced in dealing with all aspects of the personal injury field from employer liability matters through road traffic accidents to clinical negligence cases. These range from smaller cases to awards in excess of 1,000,000 and on one occasion resulted in major change in Home Office policy.

Originally from the north west, outside of the office Matthews hobbies are reading, cooking and amateur dramatics.

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