Road traffic accidents are an all too frequent occurrence. Thankfully, in many accidents, no one is injured and any claim involves insurers negotiating about vehicle damage and repairs. If an individual suffers injury as a result of the negligent acts of another driver, they can submit a personal injury claim to recover damages for their injury and associated financial losses. Such claim is then dealt with by the negligent driver’s insurer.
However, despite the fact that it is mandatory in the UK for motor insurance to provide liability for injury to others, an alarming number of drivers do not have any vehicle insurance. In a few cases, this is simply an oversight but in many it is a deliberate act. Although the numbers of uninsured drivers is falling – largely due to proactive campaigns to check vehicles and seize any that are uninsured – it is estimated that more than one million cars on the roads in the UK are not covered by valid insurance.
There are over 20,000 incidents every year in the UK involving injuries caused to individuals by uninsured drivers. So what are the options for people injured by the actions of an uninsured driver?
Because of the numbers involved and the absence of an insurer to pursue (and it is rarely a viable option to sue the individual uninsured driver), such claims are dealt with by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), a non-profit company funded by the motor insurance industry. All motor insurers have to make a contribution to the scheme each year and these funds are then used to deal with claims submitted to the scheme.
Bringing a claim against the MIB follows the same principles as bringing a claim against an insured driver. The determination of liability and any damages to be awarded is exactly the same as a claim for injury and associated losses. However, there are various additional steps to be undertaken:
- An individual must show that they have done all they can to identify an insurer before submitting a claim and the MIB will carry out their own investigation into possible insurance.
- If the claim is accepted by the MIB, there are some additional procedural steps to be followed without which the individual’s claim will not be dealt with. This is not designed to make things more difficult but to enable the MIB to have a right to seek recovery of outlay from the uninsured driver.
- For individuals injured in an accident, documenting the full vehicle details and descriptions of both vehicle and driver will make life easier if they need to bring a claim. Also obtain details of any witnesses and report the incident to the police. All of this will assist in pursuing any claim, but particularly if the driver turns out to be uninsured.
Philippa Luscombe, partner in the Penningtons Manches personal injury team, comments: “It is possible to recover damages when injured by an uninsured driver and people injured in such circumstances are not necessarily disadvantaged. But it is important that you receive proper legal advice from a specialist personal injury lawyer on the procedure involving MIB claims because of the additional requirements to succeed in a case.”