Being involved in a road traffic accident is always a traumatic experience. A recent public consultation on road safety carried out by the government recognised the vulnerability of pedestrians and cyclists in particular.
Did you know that 467 pedestrians and 87 cyclists died as a result of road traffic collisions involving at least one vehicle in 2017 alone? It makes for uncomfortable reading.
Whether you’ve been involved in a major accident or minor incident, you’re likely to be in a state of shock in the immediate aftermath. Thinking rationally and gathering factual details of what just happened will be the last thing on your mind. However, it is essential that you keep your wits about you at this crucial time.
The reason is simple. You may decide to bring a personal injury claim at a later date. The realisation that the incident was someone else’s fault may not dawn until a few days after the event, and it’s all those key bits of information that are critical if you decide to make a claim. For a solicitor to be able to put a strong case together to get you the full amount of compensation you need for your injury and recovery, the more evidence you can supply, the better.
1. Collect key information
Trauma and shock can have a profound impact on a person’s memory. Being in a road accident can make it difficult to remember exactly what happened and who was involved after time has passed. That’s why it is so important to take notes while you’re at the scene of the accident. With accurate evidence, your solicitor can get a clearer picture of the course of events leading up to the accident.
Your note taking should include
• Names, contact information and insurance details of everyone involved in the road accident, along with registration numbers of the vehicles concerned.
• Names and contact details of any witnesses of the accident. They may need to be contacted by your solicitor at a later date to get an unbiased view of what took place.
• A detailed account of what exactly happened. Wherever possible, take photos of the scene of the accident, or even draw a simple sketch by hand to help you remember the position of the vehicle(s) and the direction of travel.
2. Pull over after an accident
If you’re the driver of a car involved in a road traffic accident, whether or not it was your fault, you are legally obliged to stop if
• One or more persons have been injured
• An animal has been hit
• Property has been damaged
Your first instinct may be to apologise to the injured party for any harm that has come to them, especially if you sincerely believe that you were at fault. However, lawyers tend to advise against this since an apology could be taken as an admission of guilt, even though liability or culpability for the crash has not yet been established by the court.
This may well be the reason behind Prince Philip’s lack of apology in the recent furore surrounding the car accident he was involved in.
3. Seek medical help
If you’ve been involved in a road accident, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible, Go to A&E or see a doctor straight away, even if this seems excessive and you’re sure that no harm has come to you. You may well have been injured without realising it straight away, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Some potentially serious conditions, such as whiplash, can take hours or days to manifest, while injuries including fractures, internal bleeding and brain injuries may need in-depth medical examination to be confirmed.
If you have been unable to work or in need of medical care in the aftermath of the accident, you are advised to keep a record of any expenses incurred, plus make a note of any earnings lost. When your compensation payment is worked out, this will be taken into account to make sure you’re not out of pocket.
4. Bring a claim for compensation
If you think you’ve been injured in a road accident through no fault of your own, it may be possible to claim for compensation. You should work with a specialist personal injury solicitor who will help you make a claim for
• Physical and mental pain and suffering
• Loss of earnings and future loss of earnings
• Expenses incurred, e.g. travel costs, damage to personal effects, prescription costs, help from family members
• Equipment and nursing care costs
While the prospect of bringing a legal claim for personal injury compensation may be a daunting prospect, it is essential to safeguard you own wellbeing. A successful claim means that you can get the money you need to move on with your life.