Many people have been involved in a road traffic accident at some point in their lives, be it a rear-end shunt or being knocked off their bike as a child. Even a minor road traffic accident can leave you badly shaken. But moderate/severe events can cause catastrophic injuries which can take years to recover from.
If you have been unfortunate enough to be involved in a road traffic accident here are five steps you can take to prevent a bad situation from turning into a nightmare and assist you if you decide to make a claim for compensation.
1. Stop, call 999 and attend to any injuries (including your own)
No matter how minor the accident is, you must stop. Failing to do so is an offence under the Road Traffic Act. Switch off your engine and if you have been seriously injured try not to move, lest you make your wounds worse.
If you are physically OK, attend to others on the scene and call an ambulance and the police if they injured. Do not admit liability, even if you think you may have been partly to blame.
Remember to switch on your hazard lights, or if you were on a bicycle, move your bike out of the way of oncoming traffic.
2. Take down the details of all those involved
If you are able, take down the details of all those involved in the accident, including any witnesses.
You may be feeling quite shaky, but if possible try to obtain the following:
- the licence plate numbers of the vehicles involved
- the names, phone numbers and addresses of the other parties to the accident
- car insurance details
- the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident
If possible, try and take photographs of the scene and note down a description of the accident, how it happened, where and what time it occurred and the weather conditions.
If any party leaves the scene without giving you their details, call 999 immediately. You must also report the accident to the police within 24 hours, and you will need to contact your insurance company straight away.
3. Seek medical assistance
Trauma injuries such as whiplash sustained following a violent impact can often take time to develop. Head injuries that seem minor immediately after an accident can turn deadly very quickly. As soon as possible, get yourself seen by a doctor. Remember, if you do make a personal injury claim, your medical notes will be used to help build a case. If you fail to see a doctor immediately, it may be difficult for your solicitor to prove a causal link between the accident and your injuries.
4. Find an experienced personal injury solicitor
If you decide to make a claim for compensation, you will need to instruct a personal injury solicitor.
There are many personal injury law firms to choose from; however, to ensure you have the best chance of your case succeeding, you need to choose your solicitor carefully. Ask you friends and family for recommendations and try and select a legal practice that:
- is not tied to a claims company
- has a personal injury team as part of a wider practice, allowing solicitors to collaborate between different departments when further expertise is required
- hold an accreditation in personal injury law from the Law Society of England and Wales, demonstrating that they meet the required standards of knowledge and competency
- are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which provides a clear framework for client complaints
- have a robust track record in working on large personal injury claims and achieving early settlement
5. Look after yourself
Road traffic accidents can leave you traumatised physically and mentally for months, if not years. Be gentle with yourself and reach out to professional organisations such as Brake and the Road Victims Trust for support and guidance. If you are seriously injured, understand that rehabilitation can take time and celebrate each success, however, small.
Compensation can help victims of road traffic accidents fund rehabilitation and treatment, as well as relieve the financial pressure of paying the bills while you concentrate on your recovery.
As a long-established South Wales law firm, Devonalds Solicitors have assisted many road accident victims claim compensation. We are renowned for our expertise in personal injury law and hold a Personal Injury accreditation from the Law Society. We are committed to being clear on costs and always have our clients’ best interests at heart. If you wish to make a claim for personal injury following a road accident, please get in touch with our friendly experts today.