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Making a claim after a car accident: your questions answered

Car bumper after a crash
10th October 2014

Getting back on the road again after a car accident can be difficult. Some may find themselves having to pay expensive car repair costs and others may feel nervous when driving again for the first time. But for some, the effects of a car accident can be long lasting.

Whiplash is a common injury associated with car accidents and can result in shooting neck pain, headaches, difficulty chewing and even disturbed vision. Whiplash often occurs when a car is struck from behind, causing the driver’s or passengers’ heads to jolt suddenly in a certain direction. The neck is forced to extend outside its natural range of movement and this can cause extreme pain for sufferers.

In this post, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions surrounding car accidents and whiplash to help you understand your rights.

What should I do after a car accident?

It’s not unusual to feel confused and shaken straight after a car accident, and even if you’re not showing any signs of injury and don’t feel any immediate pain, it can be difficult to think clearly. But there are a few things that you should try to do after a crash.

First of all, if you aren’t badly injured yourself, check that no one else is hurt either. Once you’re sure that everyone is okay, determine the extent of the damages caused and take photos if you can. If you or another driver decide to make a claim, photos can help to prove the extent of the damage caused, they can also help when trying to assess who is responsible.

Call the police as soon as you can so that they can help you to take the next steps. Exchange contact details with the other driver, but avoid discussing the accident with them or blaming one another. Even if you accept that it was your fault, it’s best to avoid accepting liability at such an early stage.

How do I claim for whiplash?

If you have been in a car accident and you’re suffering from symptoms associated with whiplash, you might want to seek help and support. If this is the case, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for guidance. You will need assistance to make a claim and get the maximum amount of compensation that you are entitled to. We can discuss your symptoms with you to find out how you have been physically and/or financially affected by the crash.

How much can I claim for whiplash?

Whiplash compensation is usually made up of two main elements. The first takes into account how much pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the accident. Compensation cannot take away the pain, but if your whiplash is long-lasting, it can help with medication costs and trips to the hospital. The second compensation element looks at the financial impact that it has had on you, so if for example you have been unable to work for a period of time, you may receive compensation to cover your losses.

All cases are treated on an individual basis and at Your Legal Friend, we’ll work closely with you to find out how you’ve been affected.

How long does whiplash last?

The effects of whiplash can vary and the duration of an injury can also depend on the impact of the crash. In some cases, the after effects can last for a considerable length of time, often leaving an injured person suffering from pain and discomfort for a number of months.

Sometimes whiplash can lead to long term chronic pain conditions, leaving sufferers unable to work for a long period of time.

How does ‘no win no fee’ work?

Should a person be involved in an accident that wasn’t their fault, we want to make it possible for them to claim, even if they cannot necessarily afford to do so. It used to be the case that solicitors would charge their clients even if they lost. These expensive costs often placed a huge burden on claimants and prevented many from making a whiplash claim in the first place due to a lack of free cash.

Our no win no fee approach makes compensation much more accessible to those who otherwise cannot afford to pay solicitor fees. No win no fee means that if you do not win the compensation you claimed for, you won’t be charged a penny by our solicitors.

Can I claim if a car accident was my fault?

If you’re involved in a car accident in which you were at fault, you cannot claim compensation. But you may want to seek legal advice to protect yourself from any claims made against you.

What is third party insurance and does it affect my claim?

Third party insurance is the minimum amount of insurance required by law for vehicles on UK roads. If a driver is only covered by third party insurance they are only covered if an accident causes damage or injury to another person, vehicle or structure. Repairs to your own vehicle are not covered, nor are any injuries that you suffer if the accident was your fault.

How can I tell if a car accident was my fault?

Following a car accident, it can be difficult to remember what happened, particularly if you are shaken or have suffered an injury. If you think that you may be at fault but you’re not certain, avoid confessing before you are sure of what happened. The police can gather evidence based on witness sightings, CCTV and sometimes the damage to each vehicle can shed some light into what happened.

Regardless of whether or not the accident was your fault, it is important to contact your insurers to tell them what has happened.

I’ve suffered neck injuries after a motorcycle crash, can I claim?

Yes, providing the accident wasn’t your fault you can make a claim. Due to a lack of protection in the form of seatbelts and headrests, motorcyclists can be extremely vulnerable when caught up in a road accident. The lack of protection can cause whiplash and other neck injuries. You may also be entitled to claim for a loss of earnings as a result of an injury, and when you are fit enough to get out on your bike again, it may be possible to claim for a replacement motorcycle if yours is severely damaged and in need of repair.

Can I claim against a pet owner for an accident caused by an animal?

If you’ve been involved in a car accident that was caused by a pet, you may be able to claim against the owner. Dog owners in particular are liable to pay compensation if their pet causes an accident, even if the pet is killed.

In order to claim compensation to cover the cost of damages to the car, or injuries to any passengers, it must be proved that the accident was unavoidable from the driver’s point of view and that the dog was at fault.

It’s not uncommon to have plenty of questions to ask in the wake of a car accident, and it can be difficult to know where to turn. If you’re struggling to get back to normal following a crash and believe that you are suffering from whiplash or any other accident-related injuries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of solicitors.