1. Reporting the accident to your insurer
When you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident report, you must report it to your insurers within 24 hours or by the next working day.
If you receive a Letter of Demand from the lawyers of the other vehicle in the accident or a Writ of Summons, you should inform your insurers immediately. The Letter of Demand will contain a paragraph telling you to forward the claim together with the supporting documents to your insurers.
If a Writ of Summons is served on you personally, you must immediately inform your insurers so they can handle the matter for you themselves or appoint lawyers on your behalf to do so. It’s important to remember that within 8 days of the Writ of Summons being served on you, a Memorandum of Appearance (a Court document) must be filed in Court, failing which, either a Final Judgment or Interlocutory Judgment can be entered against you.
It’s very important to be mindful of these matters to avoid incurring or increasing costs for yourself.
If your insurers repudiate liability for whatever reason, then you may want to engage your own lawyer to handle your case. You’ll pay the costs in such a case. One common reason for repudiation is if you were driving under the influence of alcohol.
2. Non-injury motor claims
You have 6 years to start your claim for any damage to your vehicle arising from the accident.
Under a special Non-Injury Motor Accidents (NIMA) protocol, non-injury motor claims usually proceed for mediation handled by a District Judge at the Primary Dispute Resolution Centre (PDRC). The purpose of the mediation is to look at the reports lodged with the Police and insurance companies before the District Judge will then give an estimation of the issue of liability i.e. which parties are liable or responsible for causing the accident and the proportion in which any such liability should be shared or distributed.
If you accept the Court’s indication the liability of the parties, you can move on to discuss or negotiate the issue of the quantum of damages (i.e. the amount compensation) to pay.
Whenever the mediation’s estimation or indication against is that you should bear some of the liability or responsibility for causing the accident, your insurer may withdraw or reduce your No Claim Discount (NCD).
If you don’t accept the Court’s indication the liability of the parties, you must be prepared to proceed to a trial to prove that you bear liability or responsibility for causing the accident. If your insurers disagree that you should proceed to a trial, you may need to pay the costs yourself if you lose the case.
3. Personal injury cases
You have 3 years to start your claim for any personal injury arising from the accident.
Personal injury claims usually proceed for mediation at the PDRC for parties to resolve the issue of liability first. If this is settled by agreement, the parties will proceed to resolve quantum either at another mediation session (ADCDR) where the Court will give an indication on quantum (amount) of compensation.
If the quantum of damages or compensation isn’t settled by agreement, the case will proceed for a Court hearing called an Assessment of Damages hearing. This hearing will involve the parties producing their own evidence to support their respective arguments and prove why the amount of compensation should be lower or higher.
You must always carefully consider whether is practical and cost-effective to pursue your case because your legal costs will continue to increase the further you go in the legal proceedings.
4. Consulting a lawyer
When you consult a lawyer, you should bring the following documents and information for him to assess and advise you:
- details of the accident;
- copies of Police Report s/GIA reports;
- medical and specialist reports;
- a list of expenses incurred, e.g. transport, medical fees and rental of car; and
- documents supporting your claim such as photographs (and negatives), medical certificates, repair bills and receipts.
- names and details of witnesses.
Your lawyer will then usually do the following:
- review the documents and assess the evidence;
- record a statement from you and advise you on the strengths and weaknesses of your case;
- write letters on your behalf to claim compensation;
- discuss with you any settlement proposals made by the opposing side and negotiate a settlement; and
- if the case isn’t settled by agreement, start proceedings in Court, prepare Court documents, compile and organise your evidence (including interviewing your witnesses) and prepare for trial.
- How do you start a Road Traffic Accident Claim?
- What compensation can you claim in a Road Traffic Accident Claim?
- What happens if your Road Traffic Accident Claim goes to trial?