If you have been injured as a result of a road traffic accident, although it is the driver of the vehicle at fault for the accident who bears the blame, it is their insurance company that will pay your compensation in most cases.
As a result, you and your solicitors want to find out as quickly as possible who those insurers are and how best to contact them.
There is a lot of information you can usefully gather to give to your solicitor following a road traffic accident but what do you think is the single most important piece of information?
What you absolutely want to get if you can is the registration number of the vehicle which caused the accident.
This applies whether you were
- the driver or occupant of a different vehicle to that one,
- a passenger in the vehicle where the driver was at fault,
- a motorcyclist,
- a pedal cyclist or
- a pedestrian.
In the “best case”, you will be well enough and quick-witted enough to get the registration number yourself.
But that won’t always be the case, especially if you have been seriously hurt in the accident.
In this article, we will look at three reasons why getting the registration number is a good idea for the purposes of your personal injury compensation claim.
Firstly, we’ll consider how it usually is the key to unlocking the third party’s insurance details via a particular online database.
Secondly, we will look at how it eliminates general delay in progressing your claim effectively.
Finally, we will look at a specific delay which can be avoided, namely, delays in the ways in which Police Scotland currently deal with requests for information
1. The registration number as a shortcut to the third party’s insurance details.
While you may be able to get the relevant insurance details direct from the third party driver in the immediate aftermath of the accident, that’s not always possible.
The askMID database run by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau is an online database which allows you to access a lot of information about vehicle insurance generally.
In the specific situation of road traffic accidents, for a one-off fee of £10.00, you can access the insurance details for a third party vehicle provided you have at least the registration number for that vehicle.
The system asks for the registration number of your vehicle, if you had one involved in the accident. It also asks for the date of the accident – which could be relevant to which insurer was on risk at the time, given that many of us change our motor insurers at least every few years.
A successful result from askMID database will generally provide the name of the relevant insurance company and some means of contacting them – which may be a telephone number or an email address or both – for the purposes of intimating a claim to them.
With the registration number obtained at the time of the accident, it paves the way to finding out the third party insurance details without delay.
So that’s how you get things done quickly. What are the ways in which delay can result?
2.We now look at the situation of “general delay”, mentioned at the start of this article.
If you don’t have the registration number of the vehicle which caused the accident, the usual way to get this information is by obtaining a police abstract report from Police Scotland. This request for information about the accident can be made via email only. These reports cost £108.50, at the time of writing this article. Payment to Police Scotland must be made by direct bank transfer.
The timeframe for provision of reports is variable.
The police abstract report does not contain any “analysis” of the accident circumstances.
It does not provide a view as to who was to blame for the accident, for example.
The information is limited to details of:
- the date, time, location of the accident,
- who was involved;
- any vehicles involved and their insurance information,
- anyone who was injured, with brief comment as to the nature of those injuries;
- the names and addresses of any civilian witnesses to the accident or its surrounding circumstances, and
- the names and shoulder numbers of any police witnesses.
Delays can occur in other ways, as we will go on to consider.
3. Delays due to the way Police Scotland deal with information requests.
The police abstract reporting system makes it clear that your request and payment of a £108.50 fee is a “search fee”.
If Police Scotland consider that they do not have a record of the accident or there is some data protection reason why they cannot disclose the information they have to you then you will not receive an abstract report.
An example of delay through Police Scotland’s system.
We have experienced this type of delay in a situation where – we would say – due to the failings of the reporting police officer at the scene of the accident, our client’s details as someone involved in the accident were not obtained at the time.
Accordingly, when an application was made for the abstract report, our client’s details were not on it and the report was not disclosed.
Although our client clarified matters with the reporting police officer very quickly after this difficulty was appreciated, Police Scotland have refused to respond to further requests to disclose the abstract report.
The only conclusion we can reach is that they consider our payment to have been a search fee and, for whatever reason, the search was unsuccessful.
As a result, it may be that we will be required to pay for a further request for an abstract report now that, presumably, our client’s details will be findable in the system. However, Police Scotland have never clarified their position.
There’s a difficulty from the claimant solicitor’s point of view.
It is likely that the insurers of the third party vehicle – whoever they are – (and we can almost guarantee this) are not going to be willing to reimburse the cost of two search fees for a police abstract report, even though it was not our client’s fault or their solicitor’s fault that the first request for an abstract report failed.
A possible change in attitude at Police Scotland.
Previously, especially if it was a serious accident with significant injuries, your “friendly police officer” would generally be prepared to disclose directly to the client, if asked, the registration number of the third party vehicle. It seems, however, that those days are gone. In this context, it appears that Police Scotland is operating primarily as a business rather than as a public service to help people “in distress”.
Having the vehicle registration number of the at-fault person in a road traffic accident allows you to make quick progress in identifying and communicating with the third party insurers. You don’t have to muck about in asking the third party separately for their registration number or going through the police.
If you do end up having the make the request through Police Scotland, the request itself takes weeks to process and there may be further delay and hassle due to the way in which Police Scotland have set up their terms and conditions.
It might be a good idea to write a note to yourself and put it in the glove compartment of your car (or on a credit card-sized piece of paper in your purse or wallet), with the reminder “Get the registration number!”
So that – if you are ever involved in a road traffic accident which is not your fault and you have the wherewithal to do so at the time, you can note down that information for later reference. Or you could take a photograph of the vehicle with its registration number visible.
How we can help
We hope you have found this article about registration numbers useful.
If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Read the article HERE, if you want to understand more about what will actually happen if you get in touch with us about making a personal injury compensation claim.
Should it turn out that we are not the best people to help you directly, we’ll do our best to give suggestions for a suitable alternative specialist legal adviser (or the best way to find one).
We aim to help people in Moray to claim fair and full compensation for personal injury in such a way that it costs you nothing, whether your claim succeeds or not. We are specialist, accredited solicitors – at Grigor & Young LLP, Elgin.
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