In the UK, it compulsory for any driver of a motor vehicle being driven on a public road or in a pubic place to be covered by, at least, third-party road traffic insurance. This means that if the driver of the vehicle causes an accident, injuring (or killing) another person (whether a passenger, pedestrian or another driver), compensation will be payable to the injured person (or to the dead person’s estate and/or relatives) by the driver’s insurance company, irrespective of whether or not the driver is a man of means or a man of straw.
In the normal course of events, where a motor accident occurs and someone is injured or killed, the driver has an obligation to report the accident to the police. The police will normally attend the accident locus and record the details of the parties involved, including the vehicle registration number(s) of the vehicles involved and insurance details thereof.
With this information, it is possible for the injured person’s legal representatives to intimate and pursue a claim for damages on their client’s behalf. It is now possible for any consequent court action to be directed solely against the insurance company, although common practice is to address the claim against both the negligent driver and his/her insurance company.
What happens, however, when the driver flees the scene of the accident and the injured person (or, if he dies, his executor/relative) does not know who was responsible for his injuries/death? He will not know who to claim compensation from or who the driver’s insurers might be.
To prevent an injured person (or a dead person’s executor/relative) from being denied the opportunity to recover compensation for the injuries which he/she/his relative has suffered, because he does not know or cannot find the driver responsible for the accident, the law provides them with a remedy.
In the UK, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) – www.mib.org.uk – was set up. This body should operate in accordance with European law which aims to ensure that all injured persons within the European Union are appropriately compensated for injuries arising from road traffic accidents that were not their fault. The MIB is funded, in part, by the motor insurance premiums that all law-abiding motorists pay.
The MIB will handle claims by injured persons where drivers cannot be traced in terms of the Untraced Drivers’ Agreement 2003 (the latest amendment has been issued recently and applies to all accidents occurring after 1 August 2015). This is a technical and detailed agreement and it is important that you consult a solicitor who will assist you in intimating and pursuing a claim against the MIB, without falling foul of the procedural rules in the Agreement that could result in you being denied compensation.
The MIB is not obliged to pay out compensation where the death, bodily injury or damage to property:
(1) has arisen from the use of a vehicle owned by or in the possession of the Crown; or
(2) the person suffering such death/injury voluntarily allowed himself to be carried in the responsible vehicle and, before the journey began he knew or ought to have known that the vehicle–
(i) had been stolen or unlawfully taken, or
(ii) was being used without there being in force in relation to its use a contract of insurance or security which complied with the 1988 Act; or
(iii) was being used in the course or furtherance of crime; or
(iv) was being used as a means of escape from or avoidance of lawful apprehension; or
(3) was caused by, or in the course, of an act of terrorism.
The MIB also operates another agreement - the Uninsured Drivers’ Agreement 2015 – which governs the situation where the identity of the “guilty” driver is known but where he/she does not hold or is not covered by a motor insurance policy. Again, this agreement is technical, detailed and contains exclusions which may affect your entitlement to recover compensation.
If you have suffered injury in a road accident within the last 3 years that was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation (even if you do not know the identity or whereabouts of the driver who caused your injuries or where the driver was uninsured). Our personal injury team has wide experience of pursuing road traffic claims, including those involving the MIB, and we would be happy to assist you with pursuing your rightful compensation.