Claiming compensation for pedestrian accidents
More than 18,000 pedestrians were killed or injured on Britain’s roads between July 2019 and June 2020, according to the most recent government statistics.
Pedestrians are classed as road users the same as any vehicle user, which means other road users owe them a duty of care; Highway authorities also have a duty to ensure that roads are as safe as possible for all road users.
If they breach that duty of care, and you – as a pedestrian – are injured as a result, you have every right to claim compensation.
What are the common causes of pedestrian accidents?
Pedestrian accidents can happen in a variety of ways, with common causes involving drivers:
- failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing;
- skidding off the road in adverse weather conditions;
- speeding, or driving carelessly or recklessly;
- driving while over the permitted alcohol limit;
- doing a ‘hit and run’ (ie, colliding with a pedestrian then driving off without stopping).
What do I need to prove to succeed in a pedestrian accident compensation claim?
To successfully bring a pedestrian accident claim, you will need to show the person responsible for your injuries was negligent, ie, that they breached their duty of care and your injuries resulted from that breach.
When deciding if someone was negligent, the court will assess whether their actions failed the standard of what the ‘reasonable man’ or the famous ‘man on the Clapham omnibus’ would do in the same situation.
What should I do to strengthen my case?
Being involved in an accident can be highly traumatic, often making it difficult to remember details of what happened later. It is a good idea, therefore, if you able, to make notes while you at the scene of the accident and gather as much evidence as you can. This could include:
- a written account of exactly what happened, where and when;
- photographs or sketches of the scene;
- photographs of your injuries;
- any CCTV footage of the accident;
- colour, make, model and registration number of the car that hit you;
- names, contact information and insurance details of anyone involved in the accident;
- names and numbers of anyone who witnessed the accident.
Other useful evidence you can gather later include:
- details of any police report;
- an account of any expenses which you have or will have to pay out because of your injury, such as lost wages because you had to take time off work to recover;
- a written account of how your injuries have affected your mental, physical and financial state.
- details of any medical treatment you had following the accident.
What’s the procedure for bringing a pedestrian accident compensation claim?
If your claim is worth less than £25,000 you’re claim will usually be brought via the Claims Portal, which aims to fast-track claims for personal injury. Most RTA claims brought through the Claims Portal are concluded in 4-9 months.
The portal allows you to electronically work through the stages of the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents, which sets standards that parties to a RTA personal injury claim should follow before court proceedings are issued.
The Pre-Action Protocol aims to ensure that:
- the defendant pays damages and costs using the procedure laid out in the Protocol without the need for the claimant to start proceedings;
- damages are paid in a reasonable time; and
- the claimant’s lawyer receives the fixed costs at specified stages of the case.
It sets out guidelines on the use and cost of medical reports and gives time limits for when claim documentation should be sent, as well as for when interim payments should be made. If you unreasonably fail to follow the Protocol, the court may order costs against you.
What are time limits for bringing a claim?
Under the Limitation Act 1980, you usually have three years from the date of your accident or from when you become aware of the seriousness of your injuries (whichever comes later) to make a compensation claim, although if you are claiming on behalf of a child or someone who is mentally incapacitated this ‘limitation period’ runs, respectively, from the date they turn 18 or when they regain mental capacity.
What happens if the driver involved in the accident does not stop?
Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, all drivers involved in an accident which causes someone personal injury have a duty to stop and provide their contact/ insurance details or report the accident to the police within 24 hours.
Unhappily though, this does not always happen, with drivers instead leaving the scene without stopping, perhaps because they panic, are uninsured, high on illicit substances, driving a stolen car, or don’t have a driving licence.
If you’re the victim of a hit and run, you should still gather as much evidence as possible and you should also report the matter to the police straight away. They will hopefully track down the hit and run driver and hold them to account.
If the driver cannot be found, you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) under the Untraced Drivers Agreement.
The MIB will try to find the hit and run driver. If they can, the MIB claim will cease and it will be transferred to the insurance companies involved. If the driver was uninsured, you can still claim through the MIB.
How can a solicitor help?
If you want to claim compensation for a pedestrian accident, it is advisable to engage a specialist personal injury lawyer who knows the procedure for making a claim.
They will help you gather all the evidence you need and put together the paperwork required to strengthen your claim. They will also negotiate an out of court settlement for you with the other side’s insurance company or the MIB, or represent you in court if your case goes that far.
How can I pay for my claim?
If your lawyer decides your case has a good chance of success, they may agree to represent you on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. This means that you will only pay the solicitor if you win the case. This ‘success fee’ will be an agreed – usually relatively small – percentage of your final compensation package. If you lose the case, you pay nothing.
How much compensation will I receive?
The amount of compensation you receive will be depends the seriousness of your injury, your prognosis, and how your injury has affected your life, but could include damages for:
- pain and suffering;
- loss of earnings;
- additional medical treatment or rehabilitation;
- out-of-pocket expenses;
- adaptations required to your home.