Tue 01 Aug 2023

National Road Victim Month

National Road Victim month is held annually in August to remember those that have been killed or injured on our roads.  Road crashes remain the leading cause of death for young people aged between 5 and 29 in the UK with 5 people being killed every day, and over 60 seriously injured.  Globally, more than 1.3m people die in road crashes every year. 

Morton Fraser are proud to partner with Brake the road safety charity.  Brake support those bereaved or seriously injured by road traffic collisions and also communities, helping to make them safer to stop the tragedy of unnecessary road deaths and injuries.

The consequence of these collisions range from modest injuries resolving within a period of a few months to permanent disfigurement and disability or even multiple fatalities.  Few people know no one who has been impacted by a road traffic crash, and the consequences of these tragic events often last many years after the injuries are sustained. 

The law in Scotland entitles those individuals who are injured as a result of road traffic collisions through no fault of their own, along with those who have lost loved ones due to a collision, to compensation.   If you were involved in a road traffic collision, you may be entitled to compensation for any injuries you sustained or the damage to your property.   In order to be successful, it must be established that the collision was caused by the wrongful act of another road user. 

What is the Law?

Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states:-

"If owing to the presence of a motor vehicle on a road, injury or damage is caused to a third party…then the drivers involved must -

  • Stop;
  • Exchange names and addresses of the drivers of the vehicles;
  • Exchange names and addresses of the owners of the vehicles;
  • Exchange details of registration marks and
  • In the case of injury, produce a valid certificate of insurance"

If the law is not complied with, then drivers must report it at a police station or to a police officer and must do it as soon as is reasonably practicable and within 24 hours of the collision itself.

Uninsured or Unidentified Drivers

Most drivers would believe that the requirement to stop and provide personal details after a collision is a matter of common sense.  However, there are clearly circumstances in which a driver may not stop to provide their details, either because they were unaware of causing the collision or because they were unwilling to disclose their details.   In cases where the driver of a vehicle who caused or materially contributed to a collision cannot be identified, an organisation called the Motor Insurers Bureau effectively step into the shoes of the unidentified driver.  This is also the case where the driver of the vehicle has been identified but where insurance is not in place to meet the costs of any successful claim arising from the collision.  Where a claim would usually be pursued against the insurer of the driver at fault, and that is not possible, the Motor Insurers Bureau ("MIB") will meet the cost of any successful compensation claim relating to the liability of the unidentified or uninsured driver.

Fatalities arising from Road Traffic Collisions

Whilst in many cases the losses and injuries arising from a road traffic collisions are limited to modest vehicle damage and soft tissue injuries, in other cases the consequences are more severe, resulting in multiple fatalities.  If an individual has died as a result of the road traffic crash, and a third party driver or other road user is at fault, the family members of the deceased are entitled to make a claim to compensate them for the loss of the relationship they would have otherwise have enjoyed with their family member.  This is not an attempt to place a value on the life of the deceased, instead it is an attempt by our justice system to acknowledge the loss and provide compensation.  More details on these types of claims are explained in our article.  These awards of compensation can be significant, although much will depend on the closeness of the relationship between those pursuing a Court action and their deceased family member. 

What to do after a Road Traffic Crash

For anyone involved in a road traffic accident the primary concern will always be to identify and assist any injured persons at the scene.  The law then requires parties to exchange details where possible and to report the crash to the police within a maximum period of 24 hours following the incident if the other driver did not stop at the scene or provide their details. Of course, reporting the crash to the Police should be done immediately at the scene where it is particularly serious or where hazards remain on the road following the crash.

If there is a potential claim for compensation arising from the crash, the appropriate first step will be to make contact with a solicitor and to establish whether there are prospects of proving that the crash was caused by the other party.  If that argument is successful, the focus will then be to quantify the losses suffered as a result.  That can often be a complex process, particularly where the injuries are serious in nature.

Whilst no award of compensation, no matter the value, will ever make up for the loss of a family member or for serious injury sustained as a result of a tragic collision, it is often the case that financial assistance will help provide financial security, in circumstances where lives have been significantly and permanently impacted by a collision.

If you or a family member require advice following a road traffic crash you have been involved in, the first step is to make contact with a solicitor specialising in personal injury claims.  To seek specific, tailored information on the circumstances of your own potential claim, please visit our people page to contact the Morton Fraser Personal Injury Team who will be happy to assist further.  Alternatively, please call us on 0131 247 1000 for a free, confidential discussion.

To find out more about National Road Victim Month, visit the dedicated page at national charity, RoadPeace's website here

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