In all European Union Member States vehicle owners are required by law to have minimum cover of third party liability insurance.
Under the terms of the European Communities (Rights against Insurers) Regulations 2002, as a claimant you can choose to issue court proceedings directly against the driver's insurer rather than the driver themselves. There are many advantages to claiming against an insurance company rather than an individual.
Applying ECRAIR in the UK
The regulations apply to any situation in the UK in which a car accident is 'caused by, or arising out of, the use of any insured vehicle'. This means that the vehicle and its driver must satisfy the insurance criteria listed in section 145 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
'Vehicle' in this context means any motor vehicle or trailer which is registered, or normally based, within the UK and, crucially, is not rail-going.
In effect, this means that ECRAIR cannot help road accident victims who have been involved in incidents cause by foreign-based lorries or, for example, an Edinburgh tram.
In cases where a Scottish claimant has an ECRAIR claim in tort arising out of a qualifying car accident they may begin proceedings against the insurance company covering the vehicle. The insurer in such cases 'shall be directly liable to the entitled party to the extent that he is liable to the insured person.'
More on what the law says
Section 3 of the regulations state that the insurers of a driver who is to blame for an accident "shall be directly liable" if the following conditions are met:
- The entitled party has a cause of action arising out of an "accident". Accident is defined by Regulation 2(1) as meaning an accident on a road or other public place in the United Kingdom; and
- The entitled party has a cause of action against "an insured person in tort", defined by ss. 2(1) and 2(3) as a person insured under the insurance policy.
Claim compensation with Thompsons, specialists in car accident litigation
At Thompsons we have a specialist team of no win, no fee lawyers who are dedicated to obtaining you the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to quickly and efficiently.
If you or your family has been injured in a car crash or road traffic accident in the last three years contact us free on 0800 0891331 or complete the compensation claim form and we will help you recover the compensation to which you are entitled.