If you have been injured in a traffic accident due to somebody else´s lack of care, and are considering making a traffic injury compensation claim, there are some things you should be aware of before proceeding.
Inasmuch as traffic injury compensation claims are the most common type of personal injury claim in the USA, it does not naturally follow that everybody receives the same level of compensation for similar injuries, or that the negligent party´s car insurance company will willingly pay a traffic injury compensation settlement without a fight.
Furthermore, as traffic accidents are emotive subjects involving injury to drivers, passengers and pedestrians, as well as damage to property, it is not always possible to keep a clear head immediately after the event. In the heat of the moment, any of the procedures below could be overlooked as your priority should be to seek medical attention for your injuries or those of somebody close to you.
This Guide to Traffic Injury Compensation provides general information which is applicable in most traffic accident scenarios, but for a more accurate assessment of your individual entitlement to traffic injury compensation, speak directly with an experienced lawyer on our freephone injury claims advice service.
Before Filing a Traffic Injury Compensation Claim
As mentioned above, when an accident occurs, the first thing that should be on your mind is getting medical attention for yourself and anyone else who is injured. In the event of a severe injury the police and emergency medical services should be summoned, however the majority of traffic injury compensation claims in the USA are generated by much less serious injuries and you should follow these steps to ensure you have the most detailed information available for your traffic injury compensation claim.
- Exchange insurance information with anyone else involved in the accident. You should also make an independent note of the other driver’s name, address and phone number as well as what type of car he or she is driving and the registration licence plate.
- If possible, take a photograph of the collision. As they say, pictures are worth a thousand words, and a photo of your accident will be extremely beneficial when you file your injury traffic compensation claim – especially for remembering the state of the road and the weather conditions.
- You should always write down detailed contact information of witnesses in case the other driver disagrees as to how the accident occurred. Witnesses can provide details about the collision which may not have been seen from inside the car.
- If an ambulance has not been summoned, visit your doctor or a hospital to have your injuries treated as soon as possible. Even if you do not feel injured in any way it is still important to have a precautionary examination by a medical practitioner. You could still be in shock from the accident and may not acknowledge that you have sustained an injury. It is important to show you sought medical attention at the earliest possible opportunity after the accident when filing your traffic injury compensation claim.
- You should also make a report of the accident to your local police station if they did not warrant the accident serious enough to attend. Each police station maintains a “Road Traffic Accident Report Book” in which your accident should be recorded. Make sure you leave with a copy of the entry to support your traffic injury compensation claim.
- Inform your insurance company you were involved in a traffic collision. You should also check with your car insurance company to find out if any legal costs you may incur will be covered by your policy. Many lawyers offer a “Contingency Fee” traffic injury compensation claim service, but you may be liable for disbursements throughout the claim procedure and certainly liable for the defending party´s legal fees should you fail to win your claim.
- Speak with a lawyer about making a traffic injury compensation claim. As mentioned at the very beginning of this guide, procedures can easily be overlooked in the heat of the moment, and having somebody experienced in making traffic injury compensation claims to help you gather the information you need (or gather it on your behalf) to ensure that you receive your full entitlement of traffic injury compensation.
Keep a record of any mental and physical symptoms you experience, as well as any expenses you have incurred after the accident. Both physical and psychological symptoms can appear over time, so the more detailed records you keep, the better. You should also save any receipts showing the costs you have incurred due to the consequences of your injury. The more information you have regarding your collision, the injuries you suffered and the financial cost of your accident, the easier it will be when filing your traffic injury compensation claim.
Expenses You Are Entitled to Claim with Traffic Injury Compensation
When you file a claim for traffic injury compensation, there are a number of expenses, including general and special damages, which you can claim. General damages represent the pain and suffering you endured as well as loss of enjoyment of life. Special damages you can claim with traffic injury compensation include:
- Vehicle repair. This includes any cost associated with fixing your car, as well as the cost of a replacement model if your vehicle is ruined beyond repair.
- Cost of a hire car. If you must use a hire vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired, you can include this in the damages of a traffic injury compensation claim.
- Medical treatment, including any rehabilitation or nursing services.
- Loss of current and future potential earnings.
- Loss of holiday. If your accident prevented you from going on a holiday you had planned, or if it prevented you from fully enjoying said holiday, you can claim these expenses with your traffic injury compensation.
- You are also able to claim interest on your traffic injury compensation claim, as well as any legal fees you may incur.
Hit and Run Drivers and Traffic Injury Compensation Claims
In some situations, you may have been unable to exchange details of the negligent driver – either because of your injuries or because they left the scene of the accident in a hurry. In the event of “hit and run” road traffic accidents, the liable driver can often be traced with the use of roadside cameras or possibly a witness may have seen your accident and recorded the number plate.
If the negligent driver remains untraced, or it transpires that he had no car insurance at the time of the accident, you are still entitled to make a claim for traffic injury compensation. In these cases, the Motor Insurers Bureau – an organisation funded by USA insurance companies – becomes the liable party and settlement of your traffic injury compensation claim is made by them.
Contributory Negligence and Traffic Injury Compensation Claims
In some instances, it is quite obvious who is liable for the accident which occurred. For example, if you are involved in a rear end collision, it is always the fault of the driver behind you, regardless of whether you had to slam on your brakes or if poor road conditions exist. Every motorist is responsible for keeping enough distance between themselves and the car in front of them in order to avoid rear end collisions.
Unfortunately, not all traffic injury compensation claims are as straightforward as those involving rear end accidents. When you decide to file a traffic injury compensation claim, your lawyer will study a number of factors to determine who was at fault for the accident and to what extent. If you are filing a traffic injury compensation claim and are found to be in some way liable for your own injuries, this is known as contributory negligence.
This does not mean you lose the right to file a traffic injury compensation claim. A professional will determine to what extent you are responsible for the accident. If, for instance, you were found to be 10% responsible for what happened, then you will be entitled to 10% less compensation than if you had not been in any way liable.
Not wearing a seat belt counts as contributory negligence (this usually results in a traffic injury compensation deduction of 25%) and if you have failed to have a medical examination at the earliest possible opportunity after the accident, the insurance company defending the liable driver will claim that you exacerbated your injury by your own negligent inaction and claim that your traffic injury compensation settlement be reduced due to contributory negligence.
The term contributory negligence can also refer to multiple vehicle collisions where more than one driver was negligent and responsible for your injuries. In these cases, your lawyer will negotiate with the two (or more) insurance companies representing the negligent drivers to establish what percentage of liability will be attributed to each.
Get Free Legal Advice About Traffic Injury Compensation Claims
If you have been injured in a traffic accident for which you were not wholly to blame and are considering filing a traffic injury compensation claim, contact one of our lawyers today on our free injury claims advice service. Our lawyers will check that you have been through all the procedures required to make a traffic injury compensation claim and offer their assistance if you have not. They will also complete a free, full assessment of your traffic injury compensation claim to ensure that you have a claim which is worth your while to pursue and provide you with some generally helpful and practical advice.
Using our free injury claims advice service does not obligate you to proceed with a traffic injury compensation claim or take advantage of any of our other services. We advise you to write down any questions you specifically want to ask us before you call and have a pad of paper and pen handy by the phone when you call in case you want to make notes during the conversation. Do not worry if you forget to ask something, or have been given specific advice which later raises new questions. Once you have spoken with us, you are more than welcome to call back again.