Claims for Road Traffic Accidents – Is compensation being paid any quicker?

04 May 2011

One year on from the introduction of the new low value road traffic accident claims process, it is likely that the Ministry of Justice will soon report on the progress of the scheme to date.

With more and more cars being driven in the UK and with our roads becoming increasingly congested, the risk of becoming injured in a car accident has also increased. In order to deal with the volume of personal injury claims arising from these accidents, the Ministry of Justice introduced a new low value (£1,000 – £10,000) RTA claims process for personal injury claims in April 2010.

The Ministry of Justice anticipated that the new process would encompass the majority of claims arising out of car accidents and it was estimated that it would improve the claims process for victims by making the system quicker and cost effective.

Tom Hartigan, a specialist personal injury lawyer at Trethowans Solicitors comments: "Over the past 12 months we have submitted many cases through the new RTA scheme. The new system has undoubtedly helped us secure early admissions of liability and, in turn, earlier payments in settlement for our clients. This has to be good news for anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves involved in an accident, whether they are the injured party or not, as the matter gets resolved far more quickly. A good development for everyone concerned."

What is the purpose of the new process?

The purpose is to speed up the claims process for injured claimants and cut the cost of such litigation. Under the previous claims process an insurance company had 21 days to acknowledge a claim once they were notified, and then 3 months in which to admit or deny whether it was the fault of their insured driver.

The Process

Stage 1

Under the new process an insurance company must provide this response within just 15 days. All of this means claims are quicker and ultimately the victim, the ordinary driver injured in an accident, should get the compensation they are entitled to sooner. This step is called Stage One.

Stage 2

If the insurer admits that the claim was the fault of their driver then the claim progresses to Stage Two. The injured person's solicitor will then obtain a medical report and prepare a settlement pack which is sent to the other driver's insurer together with an offer to settle the claim and, if appropriate, a request for an interim payment (an advance payment of damages while the case is still progressing). If the insurer rejects the offer they must make their own offer in response, which will be paid as an interim payment, should the injured person reject the offer. This again gives more opportunities to settle the claim and provide injured claimants with the money they deserve at an earlier stage.

Stage 3

If an agreement cannot be reached in Stage Two then the claim progresses to Stage Three where the injured person's solicitor applies to the Court to determine the amount of compensation the injured person is entitled to. This can be done either by the Court on paper or by way of a hearing.