In the aftermath of a car accident, it’s normal to be shaken up and react instinctively. Unfortunately, you may unknowingly do some things that could compromise your legal right to claim compensation for your injuries. These frequently asked questions aim to help you understand what to do after a car accident.
What’s the first thing I should do if I am involved in a car accident?
There are a couple of important things you should do to protect both your health and your legal rights.
Before doing anything else, check to make sure that you and the other occupants of the car are ok. If anybody is injured, assess the severity of their injuries. If you or anybody else is severely injured, call an ambulance immediately or ask a witness to call one for you.
You should get a medical check-up even if your injuries do not look severe but you can do this after you complete all the on-site formalities.
While you’re at the scene of the car accident, if you’re able to and it’s safe to do so, take photographs of the scene of the accident and vehicles involved from different angles. This will act as photographic evidence to support your car accident claim.
Make a note of the other driver’s details – their name, driving license number, contact details, and vehicle make, model, and registration.
Get the names and contact details of any witnesses who saw what happened.
If there are any CCTV cameras in the area, ask to see if they captured the car accident. If they did, ask for a copy of the recording as evidence. The same applies if anybody caught the accident on a dashcam or a mobile phone.
What should I do if the accident may have been partly due to my fault?
Do not do anything at that moment. Regardless of who you think was at fault, at the scene of the car accident simply exchange contact details with the other driver. Do not admit fault or make any statement alluding that you were at fault. Also, do not get into an altercation with the other driver. Emotions can get pretty heated up after a car accident and it will only make a bad situation worse.
Can I claim compensation if the car accident was partly my fault?
Every car accident claim is decided on its own merit. In most cases, if both drivers share the blame, it may result in a split in liability. As you are considered 50% accountable for the claim, you would receive 50% of the value of your claim.
What is important is that you do not assume anything. Even if you think you are partly to blame for the car accident, you should consider consulting with a car accident solicitor to determine your next course of action. Personal injury solicitors are experts in this area of the law and will give you professional advice after listening to you and looking over the photographs and other evidence you might already have.
If the other driver’s insurance company offers me an out of court settlement, should I accept?
As a general rule, don’t accept any out of court settlement offer without first discussing it with a car accident claims solicitor. The other driver’s insurance company is not doing you any favours by making an offer of compensation. It’s almost certain they are doing so because they believe that their client was at fault and they may have to make a larger payout to you if a solicitor takes your car accident claim on. Any settlement they offer is likely to be lower than what you could claim for.
Another problem with accepting an out of court settlement is that in doing this you waive your right to fight for the full car accident compensation due to you. This means you will not be able to claim for the cost of any ongoing medical treatments, home care, or any other expenses associated with the car accident.
It is important to bear in mind that car insurance companies and their solicitors are looking after their own interests and therefore are not necessarily too concerned with those of the injured party. This results in a conflict of interest that will often see an offer of compensation to settle a car accident claim being made but which might be considerably lower than the amount a solicitor working on your behalf could get. You should always keep in mind that you are perfectly free to obtain legal advice from other solicitors and that you are entitled to use an independent car accident claims solicitor of your choosing who will act in your best interests not those of an insurer.
What fee would I have to pay a personal injury solicitor to help me file my car accident claim?
Most personal injury solicitors won’t ask for any upfront fees. If you have a strong car accident claim, typically they will offer to help you out on the basis of a No Win No Fee agreement.
A No Win No Fee agreement allows you to get expert legal advice and representation without having to pay any fee upfront or at any time while the case is in progress. You are not liable to cover any costs if your car accident claim is unsuccessful. You only pay a percentage of your compensation as legal fees if your claim is successful.
Can a car accident solicitor help me get compensation if the other driver does not have insurance?
If you are entitled to compensation for the car accident, your solicitor will fight for you to get it regardless of the other driver’s insurance status. In this case, your solicitor will pursue a car accident compensation claim via the Motor Insurers Bureau on your behalf. The Motor Insurers Bureau has a scheme in place that aims to compensate victims of uninsured drivers. As before, signing a No Win No Fee agreement will allow you to benefit from the solicitor’s legal expertise without having to pay any upfront fee.