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Car accident claims and injury compensation

No one wants to be involved in a car accident. They are traumatic with people sustaining significant, if not life-altering injuries. Even the most seemingly minor collisions can leave you with long-term injuries, both physical and psychological. 

Sadly, on average over 30,000 road traffic accidents occur in Scotland every year. Most are caused by the failure of one driver to pay attention, excessive speed or driving recklessly without considering the conditions of the road which leads to loss of control and inevitably, a crash. Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and mobile phone usage behind the wheel are also significant factors.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault then you have a legal right to make a claim for compensation from the other vehicle which caused the car accident. This is true whether you were the driver or a passenger in the car. We can also help if you have been hit by an uninsured driver.

You can also claim compensation if you've been a pedestrian struck by a vehicle.

Digby Brown believes that this is a legal process and you should seek independent legal advice that shouldn’t necessarily come from your own car insurer. We know the only accurate way of gauging what level of damages someone should receive is by fully investigating the circumstances of the accident and the injuries you suffered.

Digby Brown deals exclusively with personal injury compensation and has several specialist departments dedicated to specific accident circumstances, types of injury, locations and serious injuries sustained as a result of car accidents or car accidents that have occurred abroad – because even if your accident happened abroad we could still provide you expert advice. 

Cars in traffic blurred at night

How to claim compensation after a car accident? 

Gathering evidence is a critical step in claiming car accident compensation. The more thorough you are at this stage, the better it will be for your case when you start a claim. In our experience, we believe the following steps can help secure the right evidence for car injury claims.

  • Safety first – after the accident you and/or your passengers should seek medical attention for any injuries.
  • Witness details - if you or your passenger are able to then try and note down the details of people who may be able to help provide witness statements. Don’t have a pen and paper? Don’t worry. It can be just easily done on your phone.
  • Photos and videos – speaking of phones, try and take photographs or videos of the scene. Try and capture footage of damage to your vehicle, the road layout, and the other vehicle and the other driver. All this can provide really helpful insights.
  • Report the accident - report the accident to the police and your insurer within 24 hours. This is not just important but it is a legal obligation. If nothing else, it shows that you are being a considerate driver and abiding by formal processes – and it can help provide vital evidence should you make a claim in the future.
  • Contact Digby Brown – speaking to reputable car accident solicitors as soon as possible will help you in the long run. And once you’ve contacted Digby Brown, a solicitor will be assigned to your case to help and guide you every step of the way.

We have the people, expertise and resources to match you with a car accident solicitor near you. For example, if your accident was in the Highlands and you live in Aviemore, then our Inverness team will probably be the best place to help you. Likewise, if you’re in Girvan, then our people in Ayr may help.

No win, no fee personal injury solicitors

The expression “No win, no fee” is often used in personal injury cases.  It is used as a way of funding a compensation claim where the accident victim does not have the means to pay for the costs involved as the case progresses. 

A number of solicitors are prepared to handle personal injury cases on a “No Win – No Fee” basis but very few are able to offer their clients complete protection if the case is unsuccessful. 

In that event, the client could end up being liable for many thousands of pounds in legal expenses or the case won't be fully investigated and therefore likely to under-settle.

Compensate 'no win, no fee' funding

Digby Brown has its own funding company, Compensate, which provides the funding to allow the case to be fully investigated, employ the best experts surrounding the circumstances of the accident and/or injuries sustained and where and if necessary go to court.

If for whatever reason the case is unsuccessful, Compensate pays all your legal expenses and those of your opponent – you pay nothing

On average our clients receive over 3 times the pre-litigation offer

Because of Compensate funding Digby Brown's success rate is extremely high and on average our clients receive three times the pre-litigation offer.

In the event the case is successful, a small percentage of your damages will be deducted with VAT to pay for this service. The percentage which Compensate will charge depends on the degree of risk involved. We believe that this is the fairest method of giving clients access to justice whilst ensuring their cases are fully investigated, prepared and funded.

Don’t take our word for it, just read many of the court decisions and case studies on our website.

Beware of compensation offers which may be too good

We know you will have seen many adverts offering 100% compensation or telling you that you will not lose any of your compensation, however we believe there are a number of problems with companies that do this.

  • How do they make their money if they don’t charge you anything?
  • If they aren’t taking any money from you, the client, what incentive do they have to ensure you receive the right level of compensation, appropriate to the injuries you have sustained?
  • Fully preparing a case, finding out exactly what happened and what the consequences of your injuries may mean in the long term, is expensive, how do they do this properly?
  • If they aren’t fully preparing these cases will they just accept the first offer they are given on your behalf by the Insurance company?
  • It makes simple business sense, the less work they do the higher their profit margin is - they simply have no incentive to work harder on your behalf.
  • These adverts in the main are from English firms on national television which operates in a different way and therefore wouldn’t apply to a Scottish person.

We know from the many client cases we mandate from other firms of solicitors (in the main at the request of the client who is extremely unsatisfied with the service received for the other firm) that many shortcuts are taken in preparation and that the first offer received is being recommended for acceptance, regardless of the value. 

Getting something for nothing is usually the first sign of poor service.

Correct level of compensation with Digby Brown

Our experience and statistics show time and time again we will achieve the correct level of compensation which will be substantially more than the insurer is initially prepared to offer.

Even after we have deducted our percentage as a success fee you will gain considerably more than you would have achieved using a 100% compensation model.

Contact Digby Brown's personal injury solicitors

We have offices across Scotland in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Kirkcaldy, Inverness, Aberdeen and Ayr.

For further information about no win, no fee, or anything else, call us on 0333 200 5925 or fill in our enquiry form below and someone will get back in touch with you.

How long have I got to make a car accident claim? 

Generally speaking, you can make a claim up to three years after the date of the crash. However, there are a few circumstances where the Scottish courts sometimes grant more time. Such as if you suffered a serious injury (like a brain injury) and were not able to seek legal advice at that time. Another occasion where the courts may grant more time is if the claim is made on behalf of a child under the age of 16 to allow a compensation claim to be made on their behalf before they turn 19.  

How much compensation am I likely to receive?

It is nearly impossible to predict how much compensation you are likely to receive because every accident is different. The compensation you receive is based on how the injury impacts your life. It has to be properly calculated, justified and proven with thorough calculations that are then backed up by supporting evidence. This evidence typically takes the form of reports obtained from medical or employment experts who can analyse your injuries and the impact they may have on your future.

Hand on steering wheel driving in traffic

How long does a car accident claim take to settle?

How long a claim takes is highly dependent upon several factors:

  • The nature of your injuries.
  • The length of your recovery.
  • Ongoing medical treatment.
  • Admittance of liability from the other party.
  • Loss of earnings - if you are unable to work.
  • Impact on your future work and life.

There is no exact answer to this question because every person is affected differently and no two cases are the same – no matter how similar they might seem to be on the surface. Digby Brown regularly concludes claims in a 3-6 month time period however these are usually straightforward.

Realistically, a claim will likely take between 9 - 12 months

We take the time to fully investigate your case before valuing your loss. In turn, there are legal protocols with timescales which give defenders set lengths of time before they have to respond. The higher the value of the case the more likely it will take longer to conclude.

However, your solicitor will always keep you informed and seek to make the process as swift, smooth and transparent as possible.

Most importantly, it is about looking at what impact the injury will have on your future, whether that concerns your job or your ability to carry out tasks that you did before you were injured.

Car accident claims can only be made once and therefore it is hugely important that your loss is fully considered before we submit the value of damages you are claiming for.

Obviously, this will start with your medical treatment immediately after the accident but will then extend to seeking expert medical reports from consultants who are specialists in their field to fully explore the longer-term implications of the injuries, if deemed necessary.

We will also seek employment advice to build a complete picture of what your employment prospects look like in the future and we undertake all these steps understanding the financial implications such as loss of earnings and the nature of the injuries sustained.

Do I need to let my insurance know if I’ve been in a car accident? 

Yes. But you do not have to use their legal provider. In fact, letting the insurer pick your lawyer is just another way for them to under-settle your claim. We have many stories on our website to show this.

Why use a solicitor for my accident claim?

After a car crash you may get a phone call from your own insurance company or the insurer for the other driver. They probably offer quick payment for any injury you suffered. It might seem appealing but this is exactly the wrong thing to do. During that quick call did the insurer carry out medical checks? Did they work out how the injury impacts your work, home life and hobbies? Unlikely… 

The insurer doesn’t know but it’s in their interest to buy you off quickly. They don’t want you to get legal advice as it means you’ll discover the true value of your case and they’ll likely have to pay more.

Is no win, no fee worth it? What do I gain from giving up a percentage of my damages?

We often secure WAY more compensation for people compared to the insurer’s first offer, and we aren’t talking small sums:

Three times more... 13 times more... even 25 times more!

Everyone here was originally offered a fraction of what they later learned they were entitled to. Only after coming to Digby Brown did they see what was fair – even after their 20% deduction to cover the costs of our work. This is even true with lower value claims, for example:

  •     Insurance offer: £2,000
  •     Digby Brown value: £4,000
  •     Deduction of 20%: £800
  •     Your compensation: £3,200 (with no risk!) = £1,200 better off coming to Digby Brown.

One client learned the difference first-hand. He suffered whiplash after being rear-ended at set of traffic lights by a distracted driver who failed to stop. His insurer offered just £2,000 but after Digby Brown got involved the case settled for £26,000 – more than 13 times what the insurer offered.


Commonly asked questions regarding road traffic accidents to make the claims process more straightforward:

How do I claim as a passenger against a driver?

It’s not just vehicle drivers who have legal options – car passengers do as well.

The advice provided on this page relates to any occupant of a vehicle.

Car passenger accident claims are also possible regardless of the relationship with the driver. You might be their spouse, partner, loved one, friend, or taxi passenger. It really doesn’t matter.

All that matters is you know you have legal options open to you to recover rightful damages if you were hurt in an accident that wasn’t your fault.

What happens if the other driver was uninsured? 

It is estimated that 1 in 20 drivers don’t have insurance but this will not affect your ability to make a claim. This is because the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) specifically exists to compensate people injured by drivers without insurance or drivers who cannot be traced (such as hit-and-run accidents). Check out our dedicated advice page on uninsured drivers.

Can I make a claim if the car accident was partly my fault? 

No two accidents are the same and in many cases, it can be unclear who was at fault for the crash. However, we have the expertise to understand what your rights are and what the chances of a successful claim will be in circumstances that are either unclear or partly your fault.

In most cases where you have been found to be partly at fault for the crash, you can still recover compensation, but you may face a deduction because of being partly responsible.

For example, if you were in an accident where it was proved both parties were 50% responsible then a 50% deduction would be made from your final settlement. This is often the case in accidents where someone may not have been paying full attention or if it has involved vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.

If you have been in an accident and you’re not sure who was at fault, it is always best to seek an independent legal opinion from an experienced and reputable personal injury firm. We can navigate you through the legal process to determine whether or not you have a claim.

If you know the accident was entirely your fault, you will not be able to claim for your injuries no matter how bad they are.

What items can you claim for in a car accident?

Car accident compensation is about putting you back in a financial position as if the accident never happened. This is why a personal injury claim does not just compensate you for your injury but can also recover the costs of any expenses incurred as a result of the crash.

For example, if you relied on taxis to get you to hospital appointments we can look to recover these costs. Or maybe you were left bed-bound and needed to hire a carer for help around the house. Again, we can seek to recover the cost of this. This is especially important for people who suffered a serious injury because if hands-on carers will be relied upon in the future then we will add it to the total value of your claim.

This is why it is important to keep all receipts, invoices and proof of purchases for things after your crash as this evidence provides proof of how much loss you have suffered.  

How do you calculate car accident claims compensation?

Knowing how an accident happened is important but something that’s equally as important is knowing how that accident impacted your life. Car accident compensation doesn’t just look at “pain and suffering” payments but all sorts of payments you may not even have considered.

  • Your injury (‘solatium’) – this is the only part of your claim that reflects the pain and suffering part of your injury. In most cases, it is also actually the smallest portion of your settlement.
  • Lost earnings – if your injury prevented you from working we will seek to recover any lost wages and even any impact on your pension. This is often the most high-value aspect of any claim.
  • Loss of society – this is a very sad aspect but we think it’s important to let you know. If the car crash claimed the life of a loved one then immediate relatives like a spouse/civil partner, (step) siblings, (step) parents and (step) grandparents will have this loss recognised in the form of compensation.
  • Services – if your injury left you house or bed-bound and reliant on help from close relatives (such as to do housework, shopping or gardening) then we can seek to reimburse that relative for the cost of this.
  • Medical treatment – if there is evidence to show your recovery would benefit from enhanced treatment then we can add this to the value of your case. This is especially important for serious injury survivors as they seek to rebuild lives with a brain injury, spinal cord injury or following the loss of a limb.
  • Rehabilitation and care needs – people with life-changing injuries may require ongoing or life-changing support measures. It could include home adaptations (like lowered counter tops for wheelchair users) or a dedicated rehabilitation co-ordinator worker (who often aid brain injury survivors). Should you benefit from such support then your Digby Brown solicitor can include these measures into the total value of your claim so the other side pay for it.
  • Damaged belongings – if you suffered a loss of goods then this can also be recovered as part of your personal injury claim (such as personal items that were damaged in the car crash like clothing or mobile phones.)

    These kinds of considerations are known as ‘heads of claim’ and, in accordance with the Damages (Scotland) Act 2011, we literally list them in the paperwork we compile as we investigate and build your case. People who suffer from more minor injuries might only have three or four heads of claim – yet people who have suffered more serious injuries could have up to 15 heads of claim. 

    Understanding what goes into heads of claims is important for two reasons:
  1. it helps you understand how your case is valued
  2. it helps explains why people obtain different settlements for similar injuries

    Remember - it’s not what the injury was, but how it impacted your life that is key. 

    Imagine two people injured in a car crash. Both suffer identical leg breaks and both are off work for three months as they recover. One person works part time and the second works full time. It is likely the second person will recover more compensation because they will have suffered a higher wage loss from their time off work. 

    Above is a very general scenario but we hope it helps explain this complicated area of personal injury law.

Do car insurance claims go to court?

Less than 1% of car accident claims go to court, most claims are settled out of Court, often because the evidence of fault (liability) is clear or it’s not in the other party’s interests to dispute a claim. 

Even if there is a dispute over who was at fault for the accident or the amount of compensation to be awarded, and a court date is set, the case could still be settled before then; as is often the case.

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