It’s common knowledge that, if you’re involved in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault, you’re entitled to claim for damage and losses from the third-party insurer. But what about the finer details? Covering the cost of damage repairs is one thing, but there are many other financial losses to consider, not to mention the fact you’ll need something to drive whilst your vehicle is out of action.
After an accident, it’s important to know what your rights are. For example, did you know that if your car is left out of action by a non-fault accident, you can claim for a replacement vehicle to get you back on the road? It all comes down to what is known as the tort of negligence in English law, which we’ll explain in this article.
Your rights when an accident isn’t your fault
Your rights following a non-fault accident are covered under English ‘tort law’. A tort is a civil wrong that causes a claimant personal harm, be that physical or financial. This results in legal liability for the person who caused the harm - in this instance, the at-fault party. The losses suffered will be payable by the at fault party (in practice, their insurer).
Claiming for a pecuniary loss
All claims centre around claiming for a pecuniary loss. This refers to the financial loss you have incurred as a result of the accident, for example:
- Any money you need to pay for damage repairs
- Loss of earnings as a result of time taken off work for injury
- Prescription costs for medication to treat injuries
- Travel expenses
Essentially, the goal of claiming for a pecuniary loss is to get you back into the financial position you were in before the accident happened.
Claiming for the loss or damage of your vehicle
You are entitled to claim for an alternative vehicle whilst you wait for yours to be repaired. This is called an uninsured loss, which is not covered by your own insurance policy; if you have third party cover, you only have cover for damage that is your fault, so anything else is an uninsured loss.
Some insurance companies provide courtesy cars to help you get back on the road. However, it’s important to bear in mind that nobody is entitled to one by default. Courtesy cars may be included as part of a comprehensive insurance policy, but even then, there may be exclusions. For example, some insurers only offer a courtesy car if yours is damaged, but repairable. So if your vehicle is damaged beyond repair, you may not be eligible for a courtesy car through your insurance.
This is different to a credit hire vehicle, which is provided to you on a non-fault basis, but the cost is recovered from the at-fault party (in practice, their insurer). by the credit hire company.
Claiming a replacement hire vehicle through a third-party claims management company allows you to hire a car that is paid for by the third-party insurer, so you can get back on the road in a car similar to your own.
Under tort law (i.e. your right to be in the same position you were in before the accident), providing you with a vehicle similar to the one you drive is more than a simple luxury, but your right.