If you suffer injury due to a road traffic accident which is not your fault, you can make a claim for damages if another person was at fault. All road users owe a duty of care to other road users, so if an accident is caused by their negligence they can be liable for damages for any injury caused. Road users are required to be ‘reasonable’ drivers – no concessions are made for learner drivers or other inexperience.
If the claimant was also negligent but the fault was primarily that of the other person, damages may still be awarded, but will be reduced in proportion to the claimant’s own negligence. An example of this might be a pedestrian injured after walking into the path of an oncoming car.
The liability issues over road accidents are frequently disputed, so it is important to get as much evidence as you can. Carrying a camera to record vehicle positions immediately after a minor accident can be helpful.
It is illegal to drive without some form of insurance, so the cost of damages is usually met by insurers. The Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) will compensate the claimant if the defendant is uninsured or unidentifiable. This is a private company of which all providers of compulsory motor insurance are legally obliged to be contributing members. The MIB would also provide compensation where the identity of the person responsible for the accident could not be ascertained - a relatively common reason for this is where there has been a spill of oil on the road which causes an accident.
Complex claims can take longer to resolve - criminal proceedings will be initiated if the police believe reckless driving was involved.
If you have been involved in an accident recently it is best to seek professional advice.