Road traffic accidents (What to do when an accident occurs)

Upside down motor car at the northern outskirts of Elgin, Moray

It is a sad but inevitable fact that every day of the week people find themselves involved in road traffic accidents.

The consequences can vary from minor scratches to car, driver or passenger to the complete destruction of your vehicle and serious personal injury.

At a time which can be physically and emotionally distressing, it is often difficult to remember what you need to do.

In this article, we will consider the things you need to have in mind in the aftermath of an accident so you can protect your position as fully as possible. There are a number of hyperlinks to other, related articles on this website, and on the Moray Claims website,which we hope you find useful.

Gathering and preserving as much evidence as possible is crucial.

You should try to bear in mind that, the more information you can gather at the scene of a road accident, the easier it will be to deal with insurers or take any necessary legal action.

It is always best to report an accident to the police. After all, the person who caused the accident might have committed an offence.

If the police are called, they will prepare an accident report including

  • the names and addresses of the parties involved,
  • their insurance details, and
  • a list of witnesses.

A copy of the police report can be obtained at a later stage, if you wish to pursue a claim for your losses.

Obtaining the insurance details of parties involved in an accident is very important. Every driver should have insurance to cover the losses of third parties and negotiations to settle your claim will be carried out through the insurers.

It’s important to check your insurance cover.

It is always best to check your own insurance policy.

The law only requires that a driver has insurance cover for third party risks but many drivers possess a comprehensive insurance policy which means that they can claim for the loss of their vehicle via their own insurance, in the first instance, less any uninsured losses.

It is also important to check if your policy covers you for the costs of legal representation (Legal Expenses Insurance or Before The Event Insurance). If it does, then contact your solicitor and advise him that you have the cover. In road accident cases, as in most others, it is never too early to consult your solicitor.

What can you claim for?

Some losses might immediately be recovered under your own policy. These are known as insured losses.

Losses for personal injury will always be a claim against the other party and his or her insurers – part of your uninsured losses.

Where you have suffered injury or other losses of whatever nature, it is worthwhile contacting your solicitor, as soon as you are able, to discuss the possibility of making a claim.

If you have been seriously injured, your claim will take some time to settle. Injuries and convalescence can vary, and may lead to wage loss if you are unable to attend work.

In addition, you may no longer be able to enjoy hobbies or activities to the extent you did prior to the accident and, in such circumstances, you may be able to claim against the other party’s insurers. In order to formulate your claim, your solicitor will likely need to obtain medical reports which will help in negotiating a settlement.

If, as a result of the accident, your car has been written off, or has to be put off the road for repairs and this forces you to hire a vehicle, you will normally be able to recover these hire costs, provided you can show that the hire of the vehicle was both necessary and reasonable.

You may well find that your claim will not be disputed by the insurers. On the other hand, even if the fault is accepted, the amount of your claim may not be. You should remember, therefore, that it may take some time before your claim is fully settled.

What if the third party’s insurers refuse to settle your losses?

If this happens, it will be because they do not consider their insured to be liable. In other words, they will not be satisfied their insured was at fault / negligent and thereby the cause of the accident.

The only way for you to argue otherwise is to raise a court action and your solicitor can advise you on what type of action will be necessary.

It is important to remember that any claim for personal injury should be brought to court within three years of the date of the accident. This sounds like a long time but it can pass very quickly.

If it is necessary for the case to go to court, your solicitor will advise you if you are eligible for legal aid. You could ask your solicitor about the possibility of “after the event” insurance which may apply to give you protection against having to pay the other side’s expenses, if you lose the case.

For more detailed advice, see your solicitor first.

You can find a solicitor by telephoning the Law Society of Scotland for assistance, by contacting your local Citizens Advice Bureau or using the “Find a Solicitor” tool on the Law Society of Scotland’s website.

How we can help

If you have any questions arising from this article or about any aspect of our personal injury claims services generally, feel free to contact us.

All initial enquiries are free of charge and without obligation. You can contact either of our accredited specialist personal injury solicitors – Marie and Peter – by phoning 01343 544077 or by sending us a Free Online Enquiry.

Links you might like

These are links to articles on our personal injury claim website, Moray Claims, which might find useful for additional, related information: