LAWLINK – What can I do about injuries after minor car crash?

silver and black car engine
Photo by Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash

Q:  Last week I was involved in a minor car accident. The vehicle in front of me suddenly stopped to turn into a driveway. I was able to stop in time, but a van behind braked but was unable to stop, running right into the back of my car. At the time I was shocked but was able to move around. However, a few days later, my neck began to get extremely painful and I cannot turn it fully. I am a childminder and am now unable to do my job. I have been told that the van driver’s insurance is going to deal with the damage to my car. but I am now left with physical injuries also. What can I do?

Dear Reader,

It frequently happens, even in relatively minor car accidents, that whilst we feel fine on the day, some days later we may begin to feel the physical effects of these incidents.

Firstly, of course, you should seek medical advice in relation to your injuries from your GP. You should ensure that you follow through on any advice your GP gives you, including taking any medication prescribed and physiotherapy.

You are still in the very early stages of your symptoms and it is likely that your injuries have not yet settled. That is not to say that your symptoms will ease in the short term, but again it is very early.

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From what you have outlined, the insurance company for the driver of the van has accepted liability. This would be expected given the circumstances of the accident, given that it is generally the responsibility of the trailing driver to ensure that they can stop safely.

All personal injuries matters must now be dealt with at first instance via the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). You must obtain a medical report from your treating doctor. You should also submit details of any out-of-pocket expenses (doctor’s fees, physiotherapy, etc.) along with details of any loss of earnings claim.

As your claim progresses through the PIAB process, you will be independently medically examined. You will be entitled to submit your own updated medical reports should your symptoms change or should you be referred to a specialist.

We would recommend that your solicitor send a letter to the insurance company for the other driver as soon as possible. Generally speaking, you would wait for around three months before obtaining a medical report to allow time for your injuries to settle.

PIAB allows in or around one year for an assessment, although at the present time it is taking considerably longer due to delays in obtaining independent medical reports.  You are advised to seek the services of your solicitor at the earliest opportunity.