You’re understandably stressed.
Some fool has just driven into the back of you.
And you are not sure what to do.
Let’s have a look so that if the worst happens, you won’t compound your own misfortune.
The most common type of personal injuries claim in Ireland is the road traffic accident according to the Injuries Board annual report for 2012. 75% of personal injuries claims arose from road traffic accidents, 17% arose from public places accidents (slips, trips, and falls), and 8% arose from workplace accidents. (Source: Injuries Board)
When thinking about car accidents, most people automatically think of two vehicles inflicting damage on each other.
However road traffic accident claims can also arise from
- Poor state of the road in which case the local authority may be liable
- Passenger injuries
- Cyclist injury compensation claims
- Pedestrian personal injuries
- Animals/livestock on the road
- Debris falling off other vehicles/trucks.
The most common types of injury arising from road traffic accidents are
- back injuries,
- neck injuries,
- spinal injuries,
- soft tissue injuries,
- And broken limbs.
Regrettably, this list is not exhaustive.
What to Do After a Road Traffic Accident
Firstly, you need to report the accident to the Gardai and obtain medical help from your local hospital or make an immediate appointment with your medical practitioner/doctor. Even if you feel that you have not been injured and don’t need to see a doctor you would be well advised to make that appointment anyway.
Many people, in the immediate aftermath of a road traffic accident, are in shock and simply do not notice that they may have suffered an injury which will only become a problem in the days and weeks ahead.
If you do subsequently make a personal injuries claim your case will be significantly strengthened by your attendance at a medical practitioner or hospital as this will be recorded in your medical records and will support your claim for compensation.
If there are no injuries arising from the accident, the Gardaí may well not attend the scene and let the parties resolve the matter themselves by exchanging details such as insurance companies, names, addresses, etc.
However, even if the Gardai do not attend, you are still strongly advised to visit the local Garda station and report the matter yourself. The Gardai maintain a road traffic report book in which you should have recorded details of the accident such as
- Names of both parties
- Time of accident
If there are any witnesses it is very helpful later on if you can obtain their names, contact details, and phone number.
It is critically important that you make a note of the motor vehicle registration number of the other vehicle. This may be crucial later on if there is any problem with the insurance details provided to you by the other driver.
Never leave the scene of a road traffic accident without exchanging details with the other party.
Don’t forget to check the insurance disc of the other driver’s vehicle; many people are understandably, in shock following an accident and it is important to verify insurance details of the other driver who may also be in shock and give you incorrect insurance details.
You should also take photos of the scene with your mobile phone together with images of the damage done to both vehicles and the registration number of the other vehicle. You should also, at the earliest opportunity, make a drawing/sketch of the accident, the position of the vehicles, note the speed limit zone and any other relevant details when they are fresh in your mind.
Hit and Run Road Traffic Accidents
If you have been the victim of a hit and run accident or the other driver was uninsured you can still pursue a claim for compensation through the MIBI (the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland). The MIBI is a body funded by contributions from the insurance companies to cover situations of uninsured or untraced drivers and ‘stands in the shoes’ of the uninsured or untraced driver.
Do not, under any circumstances, admit liability at the scene of a road traffic accident. It may, in fact, invalidate your insurance policy to do so.
This may actually be in the best interests of the other driver because if you are in the wrong and your insurance is invalidated by the admission of liability the other driver will be in difficulty claiming off your insurance policy. This can be explained if (s)he becomes angry/irate at what they see as a clear case of the accident being your fault.
If the other driver admits liability try to get him/her to do so in writing as once (s)he speaks to a solicitor (s)he may change his/her mind about liability.
There is no difficulty in explaining to the Gardai what has occurred. However attribution of liability should be left to a later date and you should be advised on this by a solicitor.
You should also contact a solicitor.
Personal Injury Solicitors
Personal injury solicitors are solicitors who are expert at dealing with personal injury claims on behalf of clients.
Whilst on the surface it appears that making a personal injuries claim to the Injuries Board is a relatively straightforward matter the reality is that there are many potential hazards and mistakes that can be made.
Even if you have successfully made a claim and have received an assessment of the Injuries Board which should reflect your pain and suffering and the value of your claim, the difficulty is in deciding whether the amount offered to you is ‘fair’.
This is where the training and professionalism of a personal injures solicitor arises.
Your solicitor will
- Advise on whether you are being offered enough taking into account your various losses such as past loss of earnings, future loss of earnings, hospital and medical expenses, etc.
- Negotiate/deal with the respondent and/or insurance company,
- Insist on up to date medical reports, actuarial reports where appropriate,
- Seek an order from Court to preserve evidence where necessary and appropriate
- Bring a personal injuries action in Court where necessary
- Attend mediation conferences and pre-trial hearings
- Set the case down for trial
- Engage in the discovery process
- Prepare and conduct the trial
There are a number of key things you should be aware of if you have been unfortunate enough to be in a road traffic accident:
- Your medical health is clearly vital and should not be overlooked, even if in the immediate aftermath you feel fine. In addition, any medical report made immediately after the accident will be of great assistance in pursuing a personal injuries claim
- Be polite but firm in dealing with the matter no matter what the other party says to you
- Obtain the name, address, insurance details, and most critically the registration number of the other vehicle
- Report the accident to the Gardai. In a similar fashion to the medical report, what is recorded in the Gardai’s record of the accident can prove critical to the success of your subsequent claim, where appropriate
- Contact a solicitor. The costs arising from a road traffic accident can be significant including material damage, personal injuries which may come against you in later years, medical bills, loss of earning, physiotherapy, replacement vehicle, tow truck, etc.