Personal Injury Guide | Can you remember what to do in a road traffic accident?

The aftermath of a road traffic accident is hardly the ideal time to try and remember the rules which you should follow after such an event.

Written by Chris Grimson | Advocate | Originally published on 30 April 2020

So why not keep our personal injury guide for road traffic accidents in your glovebox, this quick and handy guide to the simple steps you need to follow at such a time.

Firstly, some simple rules to follow in the immediate aftermath of an accident.  Assuming that you can safely emerge from your vehicle, make sure that you exchange insurance details with the other driver.  If an exchange of details is not possible then you should call the police.  Likewise, if any of those involved are obviously injured then you should call for police and ambulance.  You should also call the police if there is any significant damage to items known as ‘road furniture’, in other words lamp posts, signposts, railings etc.

If you are concerned that there may be any dispute regarding the circumstances of the accident, if you can safely do so then take any necessary pictures on your mobile phone.  If there is any aggression from the other driver in response, then desist from taking photos as it is not worth risking further injury.  Bear in mind also that if you have a dash cam fitted to your car, and if you feel that the footage on the memory card is likely to be useful to you, then stop the dash cam and remove the card so that you can download the footage once you are home.  You may of course need to refer to your dash cash instruction booklet.

Once you have exchanged insurance details, dealt with any police or ambulance involvement and received any necessary immediate medical treatment, then you should report the accident to your insurance broker or insurer.  Follow any instructions or guidance you receive to enable your vehicle repairs to begin, which may include the vehicle being inspected by a loss assessor.  Complete fully and honestly any forms which you are sent by the broker or insurer which typically require you to describe the circumstances of the accident and provide a sketch map showing the location of the accident, the directions of travel etc.

If you have been injured in the accident then once you have received any necessary medical treatment you should speak to your broker or insurer and find out whether you have legal expenses cover as part of your motor insurance policy.  Not all motor policies feature this kind of cover, with some policies you need to make a conscious decision to include legal expenses cover when you commence or renew the motor policy.  With other policies, legal expenses cover can already be included without you having to opt for it.  If you do not know whether you have legal expenses cover then you should ask your broker or insurer.

If you have legal cover there will sometimes be a dedicated initial claims line number that you need to call in order to get the process moving.  You will provide the legal expenses insurer with details of the accident and they will sometimes invite you to choose your own advocate to assist you with the claim, and the advocate will have to present his or her terms of business to the insurer in order to seek agreement on the fees which will be payable by the insurer to the advocates in question.  Some insurers have a panel advocate that they will ask you to use, but if you have a particular desire to use a specific firm of advocates then you should make that clear to the insurer.  Bear in mind that where an accident has occurred on the Isle of Man, you will need assistance from an Isle of Man advocate and not an English Solicitor.

Once terms of business have been agreed between the advocate and legal expenses insurer, you should receive an invitation from the advocate to meet and discuss the accident so that your claim can be set in motion against the other driver.  From this point forward the claim should be pursued by your advocate with reasonable speed however if you received significant injuries in the accident, you may well be required to attend one or more medical experts for reports to be produced.  Copies of your health records will usually need to be obtained from your GP and any relevant hospital before the medical expert will be able to produce his or her report.  Given the likely time involved in waiting for copy health records to be produced and then waiting for an appointment with the chosen experts, it is typical for the claims process to take at least 6 months and if the injuries involved are substantial, perhaps involving both physical and psychological injuries, it is not uncommon for claims to take one year or more to reach a conclusion.  The vast majority of personal injury claims are settled by negotiation, only a small percentage become the subject of Court proceedings and in those situations the timescale can be much extended.

MannBenham’s dedicated personal injury team have many years of experience dealing with all aspects of personal injury claims, whether arising from road traffic accidents or not, so do not hesitate to contact us if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident.

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