Legal Eagle: Accident driver did not stop

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Q. I was injured recently in an accident caused by a car which hit me and did not stop. Nobody got any details of the car. Is it possible for me to claim for my injuries? I got a broken arm and since I do a skilled manual job this is going to mean I lose quite a bit in wages.

A. An organisation called the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) may compensate you. The MIB has existed for many years. Its function is to compensate people who are the victims of uninsured drivers or untraced drivers. (About 20%/25% of accidents on British roads involve such drivers).

The MIB operates 2 schemes for the 2 different types of cases (uninsured/untraced) and this year both schemes were updated.

For untraced drivers like the one in your case it used to be that the victim had to make a report to the police. This is no longer the case UNLESS the MIB asks the victim to make a report.

Compensation is available both for physical/psychiatric injuries and financial losses (like loss of wages).

Applications can be made online or on paper.

If you want legal help the MIB will pay a strictly limited amount to a solicitor acting for you. Most competent firms of solicitors would not view the amount the MIB pays as being economic – the MIB does not pay enough. So it is usual and normal for firms to seek a payment on top for their work from the compensation figure awarded by the MIB.

Some parts of the scheme when first updated made it look as though the new scheme might exclude solicitors. But shortly before the scheme was put on the MIB website further amendments were made. It does now look as though the MIB accepts that solicitors can continue to be involved. It would be odd if they could not be – why should people not be entitled to independent legal advice? Certainly you would be so entitled if the driver of the car that hit you HAD been traced and you were dealing with a car insurance company instead of the MIB.

Quite understandably from a business point of view when claims are made insurance companies –whether car or home insurers or other kinds of insurers – want to settle for a low figure where liability is accepted to pay compensation at all.

It is important to note that the MIB is no different. It can take a tough approach to claims so be prepared for the need to prove and provide evidence for all parts of your claim.

l Ben Hoare Bell LLP has several specialist Personal Injury Solicitors who can help you in situations such as the above. To speak to a Solicitor please phone 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.