The sheer size and weight of lorries and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) make them particularly lethal when involved in a road traffic accident. Generally, collisions involving HGVs and lorries lead to greater levels of damage to other vehicles, and to more serious – or even fatal – injuries to the passengers, pedestrians, cyclists or other road users.
Thompsons Solicitors’ personal injury specialists have supported thousands of people injured in lorry and HGV accidents on UK roads, successfully securing the maximum amount of road crash compensation in the shortest possible time. To find out more about how you can start a road traffic accident claim after being involved in a crash with a lorry or HGV, see our answers to the following frequently-asked questions:
1. What can cause a lorry or HGV accident?
Lorries and HGVs are involved the same types of road traffic accidents as other road users, although some are more common to drivers of these vehicles. Some of the most common reasons people make claims for personal injury compensation following a road traffic accident with a HGV include:
- Tailgating – Following a vehicle too closely can be dangerous, as you are more likely to hit them if they have to brake sharply. For those who follow a HGV too closely in a smaller vehicle, there is a high risk if they break suddenly of suffering serious injury, or even death. If it is a HGV that is tailgating a smaller vehicle, then there can be equally serious consequences for the non-HGV driver.
- Poor concentration – Many lorries and HGVs have larger blind spots due to their size and elevation, and their drivers are trained to pay particular attention at junctions, as well as roundabouts. In built-up areas, such as cities like London, there have been tragedies involving pedestrians and cyclists who have been hit by HGVs. Until lorries with better visibility are more commonplace on the roads, HGV drivers have to exercise extra caution. Drivers of larger vehicles have to be aware of low bridges, which can cause disruption and accidents, leading to potential personal injury.
- Driving while tired – There are laws stipulating how many hours you can drive for and how many breaks drivers must take. The laws are there because HGV and lorry drivers undertake long journeys for work, making them more vulnerable to fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel.
- Using a mobile phone while driving – As of 1 March 2017, drivers caught using their mobile phone on the road receive a £200 fine and six points on their license. This was increased in an attempt to reduce the number of distracted drivers who have caused serious and fatal injuries while using their mobile phones on the roads. One example of this is lorry driver Tomasz Kroker, who killed a mother and three children after crashing into them while distracted by his phone.
- Poor vehicle maintenance – Lorry and HGV drivers are required to ensure their vehicles are regularly checked and those older than three years must have yearly MOT’s to ensure they are road legal. Lorry and HGV drivers should also ensure that all loads are secure, to avoid the vehicle tipping over or shedding their load onto the road, which could cause a serious injury to other road users.
- High winds – Vehicles with high sides are prone to tipping during windy weather. In bad weather, HGV and lorry drivers carefully consider their route, avoiding exposed motorways and bridges, especially if the vehicle’s trailer is empty. In such weather, we should all drive slower.
2. What types of personal injury claims are made following a road traffic accident involving a lorry or HGV?
The size and force of lorries and HGVs mean road users involved in accidents with them often suffer catastrophic, life-changing injuries, such as a brain injury, a spinal cord injury or an amputation injury. Tragically, these collisions can also prove fatal, particularly when they involve cyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians. According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), 18 cyclists were killed in 2015 as a result of collisions with HGVs or lorries, while 81 were seriously injured.
If you or a family member have been injured in a road traffic accident involving an HGV, you may be able to make a compensation claim with Thompsons Solicitors’ road accident compensation claim specialists. Contact us on 0800 0224 224 for more information on whether you can make a personal injury claim.
3. I’ve been injured in a road traffic accident involving a lorry. Can Thompsons Solicitors help me make a personal injury compensation claim?
Thompsons Solicitors has been supporting the victims of road accidents in compensation claims for decades. We will never represent insurance companies, only the injured, so you can trust we will always be on your side.
If, in the last three years, you have been hurt in a road traffic collision involving a lorry or other large vehicle, then our road traffic accident specialists will analyse the evidence from the accident, such as any photographs, police reports or eyewitness accounts, to determine whether you could make a successful road traffic accident claim.
4. Do I need to pay up front to make a road accident compensation claim?
No. Thompsons Solicitors’ legal team can talk you through your payment options before you make any decisions. If you are a trade union member then you are entitled to free legal support from Thompsons Solicitors. You’ll also keep 100 per cent of the compensation we secure for you, and you won’t be left with any hidden fees or charges.
If you are not a trade union member, our personal injury solicitors would usually recommend a ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement, whereby you pay nothing unless you win your case. Even then, the ‘success fee’ taken from the overall compensation is no more than 25 per cent of what you are awarded, which is less than most high-street law firms. The majority of your legal costs are paid by the insurer of the responsible party – an approach referred to as the ‘polluter pays’.
5. Will I incur legal expenses if my road traffic accident compensation claim is unsuccessful?
Not if you have chosen a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement, which we usually recommend to injured people and their families. In the rare event Thompsons Solicitors’ road accident solicitors are unsuccessful in securing personal injury compensation for you, with a ‘no win, no fee’ claim you will never have to pay any legal fees.
To find out more, visit our Fees and Payment page.
6. Who will pay my personal injury compensation for a lorry accident?
Usually, you make a personal injury compensation claim against the person or company responsible for your accident and, as they are legally required to be insured, their insurance company pays your compensation. If the driver responsible for the accident is uninsured or untraceable then it may still be possible to make a compensation claim with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau. As with all personal injury compensation claims, there are rules governing how long you have to make a claim, so it is important to seek professional legal advice as soon as possible to avoid losing the opportunity to receive financial recompense.
7. Are there time limits to making a road traffic accident compensation claim?
Yes. All personal injury claims, including those that happen on the roads, must be made within three years of the accident occurring. If you’d like to start a claim it’s important that you get in touch with expert personal injury lawyers, like Thompsons Solicitors, as soon as possible to begin your claim.