Many people have difficulty accepting the possibility that they may be at fault for an accident. This is especially true for elderly drivers with a clean driving record of 40 years or who have completed advanced driving courses. I still have a copy of a claim form that stated “This accident was not my fault” – I am an advanced driver, and he shouldn’t have stopped in front me. (This driver had just sped into a stationary vehicle.
Even the most cautious drivers can have a moment of madness. We’ve all seen drivers who are aggressive or extremely timid on the roads today.
Tell your insurers the truth when you speak with them. Your insurers are allowed to admit that you were responsible. They won’t appreciate you lying to them to make it seem like you weren’t to blame. In fact, they may try to deny any claims against you, increase their costs and even lose them. They’d rather you tell them the truth, and not make up a story that will make them feel better but lead to a long and costly dispute they can’t win. e.g. ‘ “I drove out of the sideroad without looking and was struck by the other vehicle” is definitely preferable to “I stopped at the intersection and looked both directions, but the road was empty so I pulled out when I was hit.” It was his fault that he drove at a speed well beyond the limit.
You can be honest with your insurance company and tell them exactly what happened. This will give you a better chance to make the right decisions regarding the third-party aspect of your claim. They might be able take steps to limit or control the damages they must pay to the other driver if they are aware of their liability.
There will be many letters coming from his insurance company, brokers, legal expense insurers, and possibly even his employers (if he uses a company car). You can simply send them all to your insurance company unanswered. They will take care of this. The letter style used by some solicitors can be intimidating and threatening. You might hear them say that you must give us your address and name of your insurance company, along with your policy number, or you will be charged under the Road Traffic Act. It’s best to ignore it. Don’t get worried. Your insurers will take care of it. Many of my clients and friends have called me to complain about this type of letter. Today, there are many aggressive solicitors who specialize in this type of work. Although the standardised letter of claim has been adopted by the legal profession since April 1999’s ‘Woolf reforms, it is still quite intimidating. I urge authorities to reduce this level of intimidation.
A Summons can also be sent by post. You can receive two types of summons (for my dear Scottish readers, this applies to English Law, but similar actions occur in Scotland).
– A summons to answer criminal cases, e.g. If the charge is serious, such as dangerous driving or careless driving, the Crown Court will hear it.
– A county court claim form’ (or possibly an writ of the high court) asking for payment of damages in civil actions.
Send it immediately to your insurance company in either case. They will review it and determine what action to take. They may appoint (and then pay for) a lawyer to represent you. If it is a civil matter they might decide to accept guilt and pay up, rather than go through the courts. There are potential costs to them if they lose the case. You can speak to your insurance company if you feel the need. However, you should not allow it to stop you from submitting the Summons. This would be the most inhumane thing you could do. You have to act within a certain time limit.