How to make an
by Sean Onipede (reviewed by
have been involved in a few vehicle accidents that were not my fault
and I was happy with the financial compensation I received from the
third parties insurance as negotiated by solicitors. However I
constantly hear sad stories from people involved in non –fault
accidents complaining about poor pay-outs and bad solicitors.
I spoke to a
mate who was complaining about his case to me and from what he said I
knew that he was not going to get much from his insurance claim
regardless of the impact the accident had on his life. He blames his
solicitors, but to be fair to them, they can only work with what they
are given. Often events have gone into motion and are too late to
change by the time the solicitor gets the case. He suggested I write
down what I know so that others don’t make the same mistakes he did.
First I am not a lawyer, just a Joe Public rider but
to make this very long article easier to read I have broken it down to
the following so that you may jump around the article.
In a non-fault
accident, the insurance company and solicitors only look at the facts
and will not get emotionally drawn into the case. You will not get
compensation if the accident causes you to miss your kids school play
or if you go bankrupt.
following is all they are interested in when assessing compensation
for your accident
But before you
make your claim, you have to ensure that the accident was not your
fault. Just because the third party claims he would pay, does not mean
that his insurance will. Exchange details i.e. name address, vehicle
type and registration, insurance etc as soon as possible. Call police
if in doubt. Do not argue liability on the road, let the insurance
companies and solicitors deal with that. This also avoids fist fights.
If you are certain it was not your fault note all road markings, sign
and get details of sympathetic witness. An independent witness on your
side is money in the bank.
If you have to
give a statement to police do not volunteer information. Remember that
you will not be able to think straight after the accident especially
with the build up of traffic around you and thoughts of how to explain
the accident to your family. Stick to the facts in your favour, when
talking to the police. Do not say “I was not speeding” or “I was not
drinking”. Let them make the accusation before you defend yourself.
They have to prove it. Give yourself room to manoeuvre in your
statement to the police.
solicitor will go as far as going to court to prove the third parties
liability if you have a good statement, independent witnesses
(passengers don’t count), a good sketch of the scene of the accident
(before and after), photographs of any road signs, markings etc in
your favour (you have to get them yourself, no one else will), etc.
You can mess it up with your statement to the police.
This is often the largest part of your claim and where most people
loose money. Now note that you will never get compensation worth more
than the value of the vehicle. After an accident, keep control of the
car. You may be liable for any storage costs (big hidden point) if the
vehicle was removed by a salvage company. After the accident the
vehicle is assessed for damage and one of the following occurs.
- The vehicle
is damaged beyond repair. (The vehicle is a class A or B write off).
In this case you will be offered money, equivalent to the
replacement value of the vehicle and the crashed vehicle is taken
off you. They will pay any storage fees.
- The cost to
repair vehicle exceeds value of vehicle. In this case they may offer
you one of two choices.
vehicle is written off (class C or D, uneconomic to repair) and
the same as above
- You may be
offered the depreciation value caused by the accident i.e. the
vehicle is worth £2000, and the damage will cost £2050 to repair
but vehicle is worth £ £500 in its damaged state. You will be
offered the depreciation of £1500 as compensation and you keep
vehicle. You will be liable for any storage charges.
- The vehicle
can be repaired for less than the value of the vehicle. In this case
you will be offered money to repair the vehicle and you obviously
keep the vehicle. You may be liable for storage charges.
With option 1&
2 most people expect more for their vehicle than is offered but sorry,
shit happens. The furry dice does not add value to your vehicle and if
you have a CD player in the vehicle you might as well take it out. If
the CD player it is damaged you can make a claim under others
below. How the vehicle is valued by the insurance assessor is beyond
this article or me.
In option 3 you
keep the vehicle and get money which should pay for the damage, but if
the quote for repairs were obtained from the vehicles official dealers
(as you are entitled to) and you can get the vehicle repaired yourself
cheaper you could be quid’s in. Theoretically you could have a vehicle
valued at £2000 but a dealer repair quote of £1990. If you can repair
the vehicle for £500 you get to keep the balance.
Higher authorities have set limits on the compensation you get for
most accident injuries and it is not a million pounds. I think you get
up £5000 for a broken leg regardless of how long it takes you to
recover, whether you are a highly paid football player or a lazy
unemployed person, any financial hardship you may face as consequence
of your injuries, etc. Most people in hospital and in great pain
expect million but are disappointed at offers of a few thousand
pounds. The difference is that the highly paid footballer will be able
to claim substantially under the
Loss of Income part of his claim not the actual injury.
Loss of Income.
You can also
claim for any loss of income that arises from to your accident. If you
receive any money from your company, insurance policy, government
income support etc, they will be taken into account in making you an
offer of compensation.
if you were out of work for a year and your company only paid you full
wages for 4 months and half wages for the next 4 months, and nothing
for the last 4 months but you got income support, the third parties
insurance will probably offer you compensation of the balance of half
wages for the middle 4 months and full wages for the last 4 months
minus whatever you got from income support.. If you were self
employed, you may have to prove that the accident did loose you money
with account statements and proof that you had work on.
Other physical losses.
Here you can
claim for damage and replacement to clothing, CD player, furry dice
etc. You often will not get the full value of the items damaged.
Factor like the cost, when bought, condition, etc of items come into
play when negotiating how much you will be offered as compensation.
Write a full list of everything that was damaged and try to get the
receipts or quotes for your solicitors to put in a claim. If well
presented, you could get a nice bonus as you claim for everything and
anything. You may have to prove everything.
Here you claim for any other costs that arise as a consequence of your
vehicle accident. If the accident was not your fault you may rent a
similar vehicle to your damaged vehicle and put in a claim for the
cost, or for any taxi, bus or train fares you had to pay for as a
result of the loss of your vehicle. You can also claim for any medical
costs including private treatment, physiotherapy, home carers,
acupuncture or even a box of painkillers. You must produce receipts
for all. No receipt, no money. I was given £200 for "miscellaneous". I
asked my solicitors what it meant and I was told “for miscellaneous
items, good will etc." (??) I took the money without argument.
You have had
your accident, spoken to and filled in numerous forms for the
solicitors, and they are making your claim on your behalf to the third
parties insurance, so what next. You wait and wait and wait.
There are people with the third parties
insurance whose job it is to contest the claim and ensure you get paid
as little as possible. It is not personal. With all the communications
going on between your solicitors and the third parties insurance, and
the medical people, and the vehicle people and you plus all the
internal memos in these companies, it is amazing that an insurance
claim even get sorted.
The first part of the claim to be
sorted is usually the vehicle. This is because the vehicle damage is
easily assessed and a sum agreed on. This is also to reduce your claim
for travel expenses or a rented vehicle.
The injury part of your claim can
go on forever. Usually they will not make an offer until you are fully
recovered. This is so that they can make a final offer for all the
The rest of your claim is
sometimes settled as soon as you and the third part insurance agree on
a sum. This is sometimes called "interim payments" but some insurance
companies prefer to pay up the rest of the claim at the same time with
the injuries. If you take a long time to recover, it may be a while
before you see a penny.
In conclusion make this easy for
your solicitors at the scene of the accident by giving them a good
case to work with. Then be realistic about what you will receive as
compensation for your troubles regardless how much hardship it might
have caused you. There are no blank cheques with insurance companies
and I for one do not mind this as the cost of insuring me on my bike
will be too high if everyone could make million pound claims due to a
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