On the approach to the Holiday Season we are often filled with excitement, infected with Christmas Spirit and nursing our Christmas Party hangovers.
But with December seeing an increase in Drink Driving, accidents on the road inevitably increase and those culpable drivers, not applying their ordinary level of humanity owing to their alcohol consumption, will often flee the scene of an accident in a state of panic.
A hit-and-run is defined as the act of causing (or contributing to) a traffic accident and failing to stop and identify oneself afterwards; this is a criminal offence.
Victims of such incidents can be left with symptoms ranging from whiplash, to more serious and immobilising injuries such as breaks, fractures and psychological trauma, leaving their festive period …not so festive.
Being involved in an accident at any point is a traumatic event but, where the responsible driver flees the scene of the accident, it can only add to the stress and worry which inevitably follows any accident.
Victims of hit-and-run drivers may think that they do not have recourse as the culpable driver cannot be traced, however, the existence of the Motor Insurers Bureau (‘MIB’) means that they may still be able to pursue a claim for personal injury.
The MIB is a statutory body set up to deal with personal injury claims involving untraced drivers under what is known as the ‘Untraced Drivers Agreement’.
The Claim is initiated via an application process under the Untraced Drivers Agreement and, although the applicant can make the application directly via the MIB, the Untraced Drivers agreement itself and the process which follows can often be complex and lengthy at a time when people are already experiencing undue stress. It is therefore reassuring and necessary for most people to have the specialist legal knowledge of a Solicitor representing them.
There are a number of conditions which must be satisfied in order to successfully pursue a claim under the Untraced Drivers Agreement.
These are often conditions which need to be satisfied immediately after the accident, and often before the victim has had the opportunity of seeking legal advice.
If you are involved in an accident with an Untraced Driver it is important to note that there are stringent rules to follow and the MIB will only compensate you if the following conditions are met:
- If the accident involves injury alone, the accident must be reported to the police within 14 days of the accident occurring.
- Where there is also a claim for property damage, the accident must be reported to the police within 5 days of the incident occurring or as soon as reasonably possible thereafter.
- You must provide satisfactory evidence that you have reported the matter to the police. It is therefore advisable to obtain a police reference and retain this, along with any correspondence you receive from the police.
- You must have fully cooperated with any police investigations.
- The MIB are only obligated to compensate you where the Untraced Driver would have been found negligent and where compensation would have been paid by the Insurance Company had they been insured at the time of the accident.
- As the MIB are only obligated to compensate where they believe the Untraced Driver was negligent, it is important to obtain as much evidence to support the circumstances of the accident as possible to prove that the Untraced Driver was at fault, ideally by obtaining details of any witnesses to the accident circumstances and asking the police to review any CCTV footage which may have captured the accident.
- The Claim must be brought within 3 years of the accident, or as soon as reasonably practicable after realising injury had occurred.
- A claim cannot be pursued if you knew, or ought to have known, that the vehicle you were travelling in was being used in the course of a criminal activity and/or that it was not insured at the time of the accident.
- You will be under a duty to prove that your injuries have been caused by the negligence of the Untraced Driver. It is therefore advisable to seek medical attention for your injuries to ensure the accident and symptoms are documented and that you receive the right medical advice and treatment.
Ultimately, there are two primary issues with each and every personal injury claim; the first is to prove negligence against the driver i.e. liability, and the second, is to prove causation, this means to prove that the injuries have been caused by the accident.
The investigation process conducted by the MIB can be lengthy but once complete, provided the MIB are satisfied that all conditions have been met and that the injuries have arisen from the accident with the Untraced Driver,compensation will be paid for the personal injuries sustained.
Although compensation can never eradicate the effects of an accident, it canoften go some way towards helping those innocent victims get back on their feet, get on with their lives and restore their Christmas spirit!