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Understanding the impact of your road traffic accident injuries

A road traffic accident can have a big impact on your life. Aside from the pain of physical injury, there's the psychological shock of being hurt suddenly and unexpectedly.

Road accident injuries take time to heal. They may be permanent, life-changing, life-threatening or even cause further health complications. We can't take away what you've been through. However, we can guide you through the first steps of making a no win no fee road traffic accident claim.

If you've been hurt by another's negligence, we can help you get the recovery support and road accident compensation you need.

When you contact us, it's not just about understanding the severity of your injury. Listening is key. It's important we grasp the full impact of events on you, your family, your work life, home life and also your future.

Whether it's temporary or permanent, we'll help you make it right when injury has upset things. Call us on , check if you have a potential claim online online or book a call-back with us at a time to suit you.

For more useful information about accidents on the road, visit our car accident claims page.

Amelia was a passenger in a car which was hit in a road traffic collision on a roundabout. Her injuries started to show 48 hours later, and she struggled with physical jobs at work and everyday tasks at home.

Amelia's story

Amelia was a passenger in a car which was hit in a road traffic collision on a roundabout. 
Her injuries started to show 48 hours later, and she struggled with physical jobs at work and everyday tasks at home.

Did you know?

Over 22,400 pedestrians, 17,500 cyclists, 16,800 motorcyclists and nearly 94,000 car occupants became casualties on our roads during 2018.

In the same period, 63% of all road traffic accident casualties
occurred in built-up areas.

Source: Department for Transport

What are the time limits for road traffic accident claims?

To qualify for a road traffic accident compensation claim, you must have been hurt within the last three years. The accident must also have been all or partly someone's else's fault.

  • If you were 18 or over when the traffic accident happened, you've got three years to make a personal injury claim from the accident date.
  • If you were under 18 at the time and no claim was made, you've got three years from your 18th until your 21st birthday to make a claim.

There are circumstances where you may have longer. For example, if you or a loved one has suffered a serious head or brain injury.

If you're feeling unsure, get in touch with us for free and impartial advice on . We'll answer all your questions and let you know if we think you could make a no win no fee claim.

Part of our promise to you is that we'll never rush or pressure you into making a claim. We're here to give you the impartial road accident compensation advice you need to make a decision that's right for you. If you're eligible and decide to proceed, we'll pair you with one of our specialist road traffic accident solicitors. We can usually do this on the same call.

Common types of road traffic accident

Nearly all traffic accidents fall into the following categories:

Don't worry if your road traffic accident injury doesn't easily match these types. For instance, you may have had a fall while riding a horse on the road. We'll still be able to help you with sound and independent advice.

What's usually covered by compensation?

Each claim is unique to the person involved. How much you could be awarded depends on injury type, severity, recovery time and the financial impacts on your life. This means road traffic accident compensation amounts often vary.

Generally, our no win no fee solicitors will aim to recover compensation for any negative impact your injuries have had on you. These include things like:

  • Time off work and loss of earnings.
  • Future loss of income and effects on your job prospects.
  • Any changes to your ability to work.
  • Care or support you've received, even if given freely by family or friends.
  • Any changes you might need to your home or vehicle as a direct result.
  • Any travel costs you've incurred, for instance attending treatment.
  • The cost of any specialist treatment prescribed to you not available via the NHS.

As there are so many factors involved, it's hard to say how much your road traffic accident compensation claim may be worth before it starts. However, you'll get a clear idea when your traffic accident solicitor starts negotiating with the other side's insurers. We have more than 26 years' road traffic accident experience so why not try our compensation calculator? It'll give you a rough idea about what to expect in a successful claim.


What are early compensation payments?

Early compensation payments are also known as interim or immediate needs payments. They're paid to people who need early financial help before their compensation claim is settled. This could be for several reasons. Usually it's when the road traffic accident injuries sustained are so serious that they leave people in real difficulty.

Early payments could cover the cost of housing your family somewhere near where you're being treated. They might be made to cover rent, mortgage or other bills because you're on reduced or statutory sick pay.

If you're unable to cover the financial aftermath of your injury, your solicitor will work to secure early compensation payments for you. They'll do this while also negotiating your final road traffic accident settlement.

For more information, call us free on . Alternatively, check if you have a potential claim online or book a call-back with us.


Frequently asked questions...


If you've been hurt in a road traffic accident that was someone else's fault, you'll likely be able to make a no win no fee compensation claim.

You could still be eligible even if it was partially your fault. We'll give you the information and options you need to make the decision that's right for you. 

Contact us on for free, impartial and independent advice. All our solicitors are able to work on a no win no fee basis.

The time it takes to reach a settlement in a successful personal injury claim can vary significantly. It depends on how complex your case is, the type, severity and circumstances of your injuries, plus the time it takes to gather all the necessary medical evidence. 

An injury claim duration is also affected by things like whether or not you know the identity of the other side and if the other side admits liability - or challenges it in court. A clear-cut road traffic accident claim may be settled in just weeks whereas a complicated medical negligence case may take up to three years or more. 

As a rule of thumb, an uninsured driver claim takes three or four months. Other road and work accident claims may take four to nine months, trips and slips six to nine months, industrial disease claims between one year to 18 months and clinical negligence one to three years plus.

We're the UK's largest and most trusted accident advice provider. We have over 25 years' experience counselling people hurt by someone else's negligence. Importantly, this means we understand what you're going through. Our friendly and legally-trained advisors have lent a helping hand to over two million people.

We have a nationwide network of specialist personal and road traffic accident injury solicitors. Our no win no fee guarantee means no upfront costs, no hidden charges and you don't pay anything if your claim fails. Call us free on to find out more.


How do I pay for a road accident compensation claim?

You do this with a no win no fee arrangement, also known as a conditional fee agreement. It's the contract between you and your no win no fee personal injury lawyer.

There are no upfront costs or hidden charges but if you win the claim, you'll be asked to pay any costs and expenses, not paid for by the other side, out of your compensation. This is likely to happen in most cases, as the other side is only required to make a contribution to your legal fees.

These costs will only be deducted when your compensation is paid, and may include: 

  • A ‘success fee' which compensates the solicitor for the risk they take, as if your claim is unsuccessful they won't be paid at all.
  • Any other legal costs or expenses not recovered from the other side, such as the costs of any legal expense insurance.

When you start your claim, your solicitor will take out insurance protection on your behalf. This is sometimes called ATE (After The Event) insurance. If your claim is unsuccessful, then the other party's costs will be paid out of this insurance. If you don't receive any compensation, then you won't have to pay for the ATE insurance. If your claim is successful, then it'll be paid out of your compensation as part of the fees.

Your solicitor will discuss this with you at the start, so you'll know what to expect when your claim settles. If you don't win your no win no fee claim, you pay nothing to anyone. It's as simple as that.


What should I do after a road traffic accident?

No-one expects to be involved in a road traffic accident. However, they happen every hour of the day and on every day of the year. The shock of an accident can be disorientating so here's a quick reminder of the things you should do if you're involved in one. 

What you must do immediately afterwards

  • Stop the vehicle as soon and as safely as you can and remember, you'll be committing an offence if you keep driving.
  • Turn off the engine ignition, put your hazard lights on and check if anyone in the car has been injured.
  • In a minor accident where nobody has been hurt, note it down. It's not unknown for people to try and claim for an injury at a later date.
  • If anyone involved has been injured or the road is blocked, call the police and an ambulance immediately on 999.
  • Stay calm and don't admit responsibility - that's for others to decide. 

When do I need to call the police?

  • If the other driver or drivers leave the scene without swapping vehicle and insurance details.
  • If you suspect the other driver is uninsured or is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • If you think that the accident may have been caused deliberately.

In these circumstances, make sure you report the road traffic accident to the police within 24 hours. This is really important as not doing so is an offence. You may be fined, collect points or even be disqualified. Make a note of which police constabulary office you reported it to, their contact details and the incident number they give you. This information will come in handy later if you make a road traffic accident compensation claim.

What details should I collect at the scene?

  • The law says that if the road traffic accident involved injury, vehicle damage or both, you must swap names and addresses with everyone involved.
  • Make a note of the other vehicle's registration number, make, model and colour.
  • Exchange insurance details with the other driver(s). It's worth keeping a note of your motor vehicle insurer and policy number in a purse or wallet so you have them easily to hand. 
  • Take a note of the names and addresses of any other passengers or witnesses.
  • Ask whether the other driver(s) is the registered owner. If not, ask who is (for instance if it's a company car).
  • If the road traffic accident involved a vehicle on foreign plates, get the registration number, make, model and colour. 
  • If it was a commercial vehicle or HGV, get the registration numbers on the cab and the trailer as they can differ. Don't forget to take a note of the company name and contact details marked on the side too. 

What other information should I collect at the scene?

  • The time and date of the crash plus make a note of the weather, road conditions and lighting if there was any.
  • Note down the damage caused to the vehicles involved and take pictures of the road traffic accident scene and the damage caused if it's safe to do so. 
  • Record any injuries to drivers, passengers or other road users like cyclists or pedestrians.
  • Look for any CCTV cameras and make a note of their location.

Many people now use dashcams just in case. This is really useful evidence in a road accident traffic claim as they record things exactly as they happened. Dashcams normally record onto an SD memory card that fits in the unit. Make sure you keep the footage safe. Your solicitor will thank you should you make a road accident compensation claim.


Will making a road accident claim mean a court appearance?

It's unlikely. Only about five per cent of the claims we process result in a court hearing in front of a judge. Even when solicitors start legal proceedings should the other side deny or dispute liability, negotiations often succeed before the court date actually arrives.


Can you help with my recovery and rehabilitation?

Yes we can. Once we've paired you with one of our specialist road traffic accident solicitors, they'll assess your case. Part of a no win no fee personal injury claim is a free medical assessment that they arrange for you. This assessment helps build evidence to back up your claim. The medical professional will use it to establish the extent and impact of your injuries. They'll also use it to recommend any future treatment or rehab you may need to get things back to normal.

Our solicitors work with a wide range of rehabilitation providers so that you receive the medical support you need.

Whether your road traffic accident has left you needing physiotherapy, trauma counselling or occupational therapy, we're here to help you make it right.

Yes we can. Once we've paired you with one of our specialist road traffic accident solicitors, they'll assess your case. Part of a no win no fee personal injury claim is a free medical assessment that they arrange for you. This assessment helps build evidence to back up your claim. The medical professional will use it to establish the extent and impact of your injuries. They'll also use it to recommend any future treatment or rehab you may need to get things back to normal.\nOur solicitors work with a wide range of rehabilitation providers so that you receive the medical support you need.\nWhether your road traffic accident has left you needing physiotherapy, trauma counselling or occupational therapy, we're here to help you make it right.

Who pays your road traffic accident compensation?

Traffic accidents caused by another motorist

If your accident was caused by another motorist driving any kind of vehicle on a public road, the compensation will be paid by their insurance company. This means the driver responsible for your road traffic accident won't be left with a bill they can't afford.

Traffic accidents involving uninsured drivers

If your road accident injury was caused by an uninsured driver, you may still be able to make a compensation claim. Successful injury claims made against an uninsured driver will be paid by the Motor Insurer's Bureau (MIB).

The MIB estimates that more than 26,000 people are injured and around 130 people are killed in traffic accidents with uninsured drivers each year. That's around 16% of all annual road casualties in the UK.

The MIB was set up to compensate drivers involved in a range of problematic road accident types. All UK-based motor insurance companies are legally required to pay into the MIB each year. This means that people who are injured by an uninsured or untraceable driver are able to claim the compensation they deserve.

Hit and run traffic accidents

It's frustrating and upsetting when someone refuses to face the consequences of a road accident they caused. Even more so if you or a passenger has been injured as a result.

The other vehicle may have driven off without stopping and you didn't have a chance to get their registration number. The driver might be unlicenced or the vehicle may even have been stolen when it hit you. In a successful claim, the MIB will pay your compensation in these circumstances.

Accidents caused by poor road conditions

Poor or damaged road and pavement surfaces are a hazard. Potholes, cracks and broken or loose surfaces can easily cause a traffic accident.

Someone is responsible for every stretch of public road or pavement in the country. All have a duty to keep them safe to use. If your road accident was caused by a badly-maintained surface, then Highways England or the local council responsible will pay your compensation in a successful claim. 

Road traffic collisions with pets or livestock

Accidentally colliding with any animal can be a deeply distressing experience. To have grounds for a personal injury claim if you were hurt in the incident, the law is clear:

  • The animal must have been a domestic pet or farmer's livestock.
  • You must be able to show that the owner was at fault for your accident and the injuries you suffered.

There are specific animals that if hit, the law says you must report the incident to the police. It's a criminal offence not to do so. Those animals are:

  • Cows or cattle
  • Dogs
  • Donkeys or mules
  • Goats
  • Horses
  • Pigs
  • Sheep

If the animal survives the impact, always do your best to contact a vet for assistance if you are able.

Road traffic collisions with wild animals

This happens more than you might think. The UK is home to around 1.5 million wild deer. According to Scottish Natural Heritage, there are around 9,000 collisions with deer on roads north of the border every year. Deer are heavy and can do serious damage if struck. On average, around 65 of these road traffic incidents will result in injury to drivers or passengers.

Such accidents are not just limited to the countryside. The growth of green spaces in our cities are attracting wild animals into our urban areas.

  • As no-one is responsible for wild animals, there's no potentially negligent owner.
  • That means there are no grounds for a claim.

What are the commonest types of road traffic accident?

The Department for Transport  records road traffic accident figures annually and below you'll see the Top 10 causes published for 2018. As you'll see, driver error is the biggest group of causes with 108,479 reported crashes.

  • Failed to look properly: 42,189
  • Incorrectly judged another road user's speed or direction: 21,211
  • Careless, reckless or hurrying: 17,845
  • Poor manoeuvering: 15,560
  • Loss of control: 12,151
  • Pedestrian failed to look properly: 8,687
  • Slippery road surface: 7,327
  • Travelling too fast for the conditions: 6,468
  • Following too close to the vehicle in front: 6,040
  • Breaking the speed limit: 5,102.

James Ilic

Traffic accidents and other motor-related incidents form the vast majority of personal injury claims. Department for Work and Pensions stats show they represented over 75% of new claims registered in 2018/19. Road traffic accident compensation claims can be complicated and they require absolute attention to detail. It's our job to take care of the customer every step of the way, while they focus on recovery.

James Ilic

Senior Litigator at National Accident Law

What are the main types of road traffic offences?

Driving offences are covered under the Road Traffic Act 1988: they relate to documentation breaches, withholding information and various types of dangerous driving that can result in road traffic accidents of varying degrees.

For more details, the Crown Prosecution Service explains the offences in depth.

Document offences

  • Driving without a licence or the incorrect licence for the type of vehicle being driven. 
    • For example, driving a manual with an automatic-only licence or driving an HGV on a car licence.
  • Driving without insurance or without a valid MOT.
  • Failing to produce a driving licence, insurance documentation or valid MOT certificate when requested.

Withholding information or co-operation

  • The registered keeper of the vehicle commits an offence if they fail to provide information about the driver's identity at the time of the alleged offence.
  • Any other person commits an offence if they fail to provide information about the identity of the driver at the time of the offence when it was in their power to do so.
  • Failing to provide a specimen in a roadside breath test or at a police station if suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Dangerous driving

Offences include:

  • Racing, going too fast, driving or overtaking aggressively.
  • Ignoring traffic lights, road signs or passenger warnings.
  • Driving under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs or alcohol.
  • Knowing the vehicle is dangerously overloaded or has a major fault.
  • Using a hand-held digital device at the wheel.
  • Driving when demonstrably unfit to do so.
  • Causing injury or death through reckless driving.

Careless or inconsiderate driving

Offences include:

  • Overtaking on the inside or tailgating.
  • Staying in an overtaking lane unnecessarily.
  • Driving through a red light by mistake.
  • Unnecessarily slow driving or braking.
  • Dazzling other drivers with high beams on.
  • Turning into the path of another vehicle.

Speeding

This is an offence under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 if you exceed the speed limit posted for a given stretch of road. It's also an offence to exceed the limit for a vehicle of the class being driven. 


I've heard of a website called Crashmap - what is it?

Crashmap was set up by two road safety experts in 2011 to log road traffic accidents in the UK that involved injury and were reported to the police. It only uses official Department for Transport statistics and is free. Anyone can use it to search the location and type of incidents involved.


Dr Hilary Jones

I see a range of patients recovering from road traffic accident injury. Lower speed traffic accidents can often cause painful injuries like whiplash. At its worst, whiplash can be debilitating and take a long time to heal.

Then there are the life-changing injuries that turn lives upside down - sometimes permanently. What crash injuries have in common is that they can take a heavy psychological toll on all involved.

Dr Hilary Jones

Medical broadcaster and GP 
Amelia

When Amelia was injured, we helped her make it right.

We came to a mini-roundabout and the next thing I know a car came into us. It wasn't until 48 hours later that the injuries started to show. Being a nurse, your first instinct is just to carry on.


I couldn't do any heavy-lifting and struggled with the housework. I went on National Accident Helpline's website and noticed they had lots of good reviews. As soon as I picked up the phone, the lady was really reassuring and put me at my ease straight away. When I got the settlement, it was such a relief. I couldn't have asked for a better experience.

More customer stories
Zebastian Darroch

It's easy to forget that traffic accidents are sudden and often traumatic experiences, especially when there's injury. Each road traffic accident tells its own unique story.


That's why listening skills are so important, to understand the pressures our customers face and offer reassuring, impartial advice. It helps them make informed decisions that are right for them.

Zebastian Darroch

Legal Support Advisor