For most newly-qualified drivers, getting out in their car for the first time is an exciting occasion. It can be a chance for them to impress their friends, and for younger drivers the status of having a car can be just as important to them as the practical positives. Road safety does not normally enter into their considerations.
However, young drivers should be aware that the laws of the road apply to them as much as anyone else. The popular view of youngsters driving too fast and ignoring the Highway Code is naturally not applicable to all drivers, but it is worth reminding them of the potential consequences of breaking the law or showing off in front of their friends.
Quite apart from the financial and physical dangers of being involved in an accident, there are also legal implications from poor road safety behaviour to consider. Any road traffic accident claim hinges on establishing fault, and if your negligence was the cause of the incident, you could be in real trouble.
Of course, it’s also possible that you may find yourself involved in an accident that was not your fault. Even if this is not a major collision, it can still be a traumatic time for new drivers, who will have faced large insurance premiums and may be concerned about paying for repairs to their vehicle.
How traffic accident claims work
Road traffic accident claims can occur as a result of incidents involving cars, trucks, buses, motorbikes, bicycles and even pedestrians.
Let’s assume for now that you were not at fault. Exactly how your claim unfolds will depend on the seriousness of the incident, which is why it is important to visit experienced personal injury solicitors as soon as possible in order to ascertain the likely success of your claim and start the process of putting a case together.
If any injury you suffer as a result of the collision requires medical treatment, the cost of this will be factored into your compensation claim. This applies for injuries of any kind, from whiplash or cuts and bruises to more serious problems with potentially long term consequences.
Similarly, if you are in employment and had to take time off to recover, any loss of earnings will figure in the amount your solicitor will request on your behalf.
Your solicitor will speak to the other driver’s insurer for you and attempt to reach a compensation agreement. If this does not prove possible, they will then represent you in court in an effort to secure your compensation.
Changes to compensation
In the UK at least, the way in which personal injury compensation is awarded has recently changed.
Previously, if your claim was successful then your legal fees would be paid by your opponent. However, since April 2013 this has no longer been the case, and it is now possible for solicitors to claim up to 25 per cent of your compensation amount to cover their fees.
Ministers approved a 10 per cent rise in the standard amount of compensation awarded in an attempt to offset this change, but it means that you are likely to receive less now than you would have earlier in the year.
What do I do about my car?
For new drivers, it can be very distressing to see your car damaged so soon after passing your test, especially as even minor traffic accidents can cause lots of vehicle damage. Fortunately, the cost of repairing your vehicle is another item that can be added to your compensation amount, and a good solicitor will ensure you are provided with a replacement vehicle until such time as your car is roadworthy again.
Take care – road safety is everyone’s responsibility
Road traffic accident claims can be a drawn out, stressful process. This is true no matter what side of the claim you are on, and if you are the injured party it can be an anxious time as you await the success or failure of your claim. On the other hand, it is worth noting the potential consequences should your lack of care on the road lead to an accident.