What steps you should take if involved in a road traffic accident with a foreign driver in England and Wales
Furley Page law firm is based in Kent where there are a lot of road traffic accidents involving foreign vehicles (particularly lorries) that have entered the country through the Port of Dover or the Channel Tunnel in Folkestone. We get a lot of enquiries from people injured in road traffic accidents which occurred in this county and involve a foreign registered vehicle. This article aims to give some basic advice to anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves in that situation.
Immediate action following your road traffic accident
- Get the name, address and telephone number of the foreign vehicle driver and, if different, the foreign vehicle owner. Note that if a foreign registered lorry was involved, it is probably owned by a business owner or company rather than the driver themselves, and you should try and record any company details and logos you note on the vehicle.
- Get the foreign vehicle insurer name and policy number – some foreign insurers provide their drivers with a green slip containing this information.
- Photograph all registration plates on the foreign vehicle. There are a lot of foreign lorries on our motorways and often the tractor and trailer units bear different registration numbers – you need both in order to be able to identify the insurer!
- Take photographs of the accident location and damage from different angles and distances – these will help us to work out and prove the accident circumstances.
- Try and make a note of the physical description of the driver and any passengers. Do try and note how many people were in the vehicle.
- Be aware that many foreign insurers advise their drivers not to speak to the other parties involved in the accident afterwards. If needs be wait for the Police to arrive.
- Record contact details for any witnesses to the accident.
- If the Police attend, ask for their reference number for the accident and if possible make a note of the attending officer’s details (i.e. their badge number and the station they are based at).
If you instruct Furley Page personal injury lawyers
If you instruct Furley Page personal injury lawyers, in the first instance we will carry out a search to trace the UK based claims agent acting for the foreign insurer and if they exist we will then direct your claim to them.
If there is no UK agent then we will direct your claim to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) who will act in that capacity as UK agent liaising between us and the foreign insurer. As well as dealing with claims against foreign registered vehicles and their drivers where there is no UK agent, the MIB also deal with claims against uninsured and untraced drivers. ( See Rachael Stibbe blog on claims against uninsured and untraced drivers.)
If the accident happened in this country
For most drivers, if the accident occurred here then the claim will be brought in this country and our rules of driving plus our laws on what and how much can be claimed will apply.
Please also be aware that your claim has a limitation period of 3 years. This is a time limit within which the claim must either be settled or Court proceedings commenced to protect the claim. If you miss the limitation period then your chances of being allowed to claim are slim to non-existent.
Generally speaking the 3 years runs from the date of the accident meaning that your limitation date will be the 3rd anniversary of the accident. If you are considering claiming and in particular seeking legal advice on claiming then we strongly recommend that you do not leave it until the last minute. Any reputable solicitors are usually wary of taking on claims which are fast approaching the 3 year limitation date due to the additional risks that the solicitor would have to take on involved.
The time for a Defendant to confirm whether or not blame is admitted differs if the Defendant is from outside of this country. Instead of having 21 days to acknowledge receipt of your claim, and thereafter three months to investigate and respond on liability, this is increased to 42 days to acknowledge receipt and six months to respond on liability. It is therefore important that you do not leave it too late for your solicitor to start your claim – act promptly so there is plenty of time before court proceedings might need to be issued.
The vast majority of our clients, including those with claims against foreign drivers, engage us on a no win no fee basis. This has the advantage of ensuring that as long as you co-operate, follow our advice and are honest at all times, you will not pay us anything if you lose your claim.
It is also worth noting that road traffic cases involving whiplash claims (where there is no break or fracture) have come under heavy Government reform in recent years and most of these claims now are treated as small claims cases, so that it is difficult to find a legal representative able to act for you as they cannot claim their costs from the Defendant.
Furthermore, there is a strict new tariff for valuing whiplash injuries which is significantly lower than the tariff used previously. However, road traffic whiplash claims involving foreign registered vehicles do not come under the new reforms or the new tariff of whiplash injuries and instead you can most likely find a legal representative able to assist you with your road traffic whiplash claim.
Furley Page offer free telephone consultation
Furley Page lawyers are both experienced road traffic claims specialists and personal injury specialists. Our personal injury team collectively have over 70+ years experience of successfully handling claims against foreign registered vehicles.
Don’t delay, contact us today for a free telephone consultation and find out whether we can offer you a no win no fee agreement.
Telephone 01227 763939 and speak to Neille Ryan or member of the personal injury team.