McHale & Co. Solicitors Blog

Bringing a Road Traffic Accident Claim - How to be Savvy

Having worked in personal injury for many years, I often see the same problems arise in certain road traffic accident cases. Hopefully, this guide to bringing a claim will ensure that such problems no longer persist. 

It is surprising how many times the victim of a road traffic accident takes down either not enough details of the offending motorist/vehicle, or takes them down incorrectly. Be sure to keep a notepad and pen in your glove compartment, and use them to take down:

  1. The name and address of the offending motorist. If it later transpires the vehicle that hit you was uninsured, these details are very important. Don't just take the registration. 
  2. The registration, make, model and colour of the offending vehicle. Sometimes, third party insurers respond to the claim by alleging mistaken identity, i.e. their insurer denies being involved in the accident, suggesting you have taken the details down incorrectly. Unfortunately, some motorists use this in an attempt to evade the claim. By having this information, it helps us to build the claim against the driver denying involvement. 
  3. Details of any non-accident related damage. This is generally exclusive to the offending vehicle and can be used in the event there is an argument of mistaken identity.   
  4. Location of damage to the offending vehicle. Again, this will help if there is a suggestion of mistaken identity. I have had cases in the past where offending motorists have gone to extreme lengths to avoid a claim, such as repairing the vehicle and even selling it. What they don't realise, however, is forensic engineers can determine whether repairs have been made and provide a good indication as to when. 
  5. The date and time of the accident. Although this seems obvious, I have had some clients who could not be sure of the actual accident date. This can have issues if the offending vehicle has recently been sold or the insurance has changed. The time will also help with any arguments in relation to mistaken identity. 
  6. The location of the accident. Try to be as specific as possible, and don't simply write the street name. Look around you. What can you see? What house is closest? An example would be 'High Street, outside number 28' or 'High Street, junction with Market Street (on left)'. I always explain to my clients that too much information is better than not enough.  
  7. Roundabout details. If the accident happened on a roundabout, mark down where you entered the roundabout, where you intended to exit and the lane in which the accident happened. 
  8. A sketch of the accident. 
  9. Details of any witnesses to the accident. Again, I have had cases where there were witnesses to the accident and the client has lost the small scrap of paper they used to write down the details. 

If you have a smartphone, you can of course use it to take down the information as detailed above. However, I still think having a notepad to hand is advisable, as, knowing your luck, the accident will happen on the one day you leave your phone at home. 

Today, almost everyone has a phone with a camera, and the quality of most is equivalent to that of a digital camera. Gone are the days when I tell my client to keep a disposable camera in their glove compartment! Take as many photographs as possible, and make sure you get a photograph of:

  1. The offending vehicle's registration
  2. The offending vehicle 
  3. The damage to both vehicles
  4. The road layout 
  5. If applicable, a sign showing the road you are on 

In addition, you may wish to invest in a dashboard camera. There is now a huge range of such cameras, from as little as £30 to over £200 for top of the range models. These devices record on a continuous loop, so if you are ever unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, you have video evidence detailing what happened. Such cameras are fantastic for accidents such as those on roundabouts - where it can be very difficult to prove who was in the wrong lane - and have had a massive impact on the war against fraudsters. The devices can, in some cases, also reduce your insurance premium. 

We have therefore seen that taking some simple steps can ensure your claim runs as smoothly as possible. If you are ever in an accident, call us on 0161 928 3848 to discuss how we can help.    


Categories: General, Motoring Offences