Road traffic accidents are the most common cause of Personal Injuries Claims in Ireland
What Should I Do If I Am In A Car Accident?
In 2019, we were singled out as one of the top personal injury lawyers* in the country when we were nominated as Personal Injury and Medical Negligence Law Firm of the Year at the Irish Law Awards.
If you are in a car accident*, the first thing you should do is check whether you, your passengers or the other party have been injured. If you have any concerns that anyone has suffered a serious injury (such as a spinal cord injury or broken bone) you should immediately call an ambulance.
Due to the shock and adrenaline caused by a car accident*, it is very common for people, particularly if they suffered whiplash* or soft tissue* type injuries, to not immediately realize that they have been injured. Often whiplash* and soft tissue injuries* only manifest in the hours or days following the accident*.
For these reasons, you should visit your doctor regardless of whether you believe you are badly injured.
What info do I need to file a Road Traffic Accident Claim*
If you have been in a car accident* and wish to file a Road Traffic Accident Claim* with the help of a personal injury lawyer*, you must get the full details of all parties involved. This includes:
- A detailed description of how the accident occurred, and the date, time and location.
- Contact details of witnesses (address, telephone and email address). Your personal injury lawyer* will contact any witnesses to take up a detailed statement. A witness statement must be taken as soon as possible after the car accident*, particularly if liability is disputed. We want to ensure your witness gives this statement when the car accident is fresh in their mind.
- Details of the personal injuries* you sustained in the accident and details of any medical attention you received for these. You should also collect details of any emergency services that attended the motor traffic accident*
- Details of any out of pocket expenses you have incurred as a result of the car accident*.
- The details of any other parties involved in the road traffic accident*, including names, addresses, contact details, vehicle registration numbers and insurance details.
Report the Car Accident* to the Gardaí
You should immediately report the car accident* to the Gardaí. If it is a minor car accident*, the Gardaí may not attend the scene. If this is the case, we suggest reporting the car accident* to your local Garda station as soon as possible. You should insist that they take details of the accident.
In more serious accidents, the Gardaí will attend the scene of the car accident* and take statements from drivers and witnesses. They will likely make a sketch map of the accident scene. A car accident lawyer* will take up this information from the Gardaí when they seek the Garda Abstract Report.
Moving Your Car
According to the Citizens Information Guidelines, you should never move your car if the accident is serious, particularly if someone has suffered catastrophic injuries. If the car accident* is minor and the car is blocking the road or a danger to other drivers, you should move your car. Before doing so, you should mark their positions on the road and take photographs of the cars’ positions.
Photographing Car Accidents*
It is best to take these photographs immediately after the accident before vehicles are moved to the side of the road. These photos should be printed, date stamped and copied, to give to your solicitor. You should photograph the following:
- Your injuries
- The scene of the accident, including skid marks, road markings, debris or road signs. Photographs of the surrounding area are of prime importance; often motor traffic accidents* happen at crossroads or T intersections, and photographs of the road network and signage can be invaluable
- Damage to your vehicle and all other vehicles involved, including the vehicles’ positions following the accident
In multiple vehicle car accidents*, photographs taken at the scene are especially invaluable. If you did not take these photos personally, it is essential that whoever did take them is available to give evidence at the hearing.
Car Accident Claims* Involving Multiple Vehicles
The most common type of multiple vehicle accident* is where one car rear-ends another, which in turn rear-ends the car in front. These car crashes can often lead to multiple parties sustaining personal injuries*. The accidents can be particularly severe for those in the middle car, as they are essentially in two accidents – one where they are read-ended and one where they crash into the car in front.
Multiple vehicle accident claims* involve three or more vehicles. These accidents often occur when a car crashes into a car, which causes that car to collide with another car often coming in the opposite direction. The person or persons liable will be responsible for material damage and personal injuries* of the occupants of all other vehicles. Liability in these accidents is often a lot less straightforward and it is therefore essential that you immediately call the Gardaí to attend the scene.
Who is Responsible?
You should never admit liability (i.e. do not say the car accident* was your fault) at the scene of a car accident*. This has no benefit to you or the other driver. Car accidents* are very stressful and upsetting; often, those involved in a car accident* are in a state of shock immediately afterwards. Collect your thoughts, take photographs and discuss the matter with a car accident solicitor* before you decide whether to admit liability.
Which Driver is Liable in a Pile Up Car Accident?
All drivers have a duty of care to other road users. It is incumbent on all drivers to drive attentively and safely. As these car accidents* generally start when one car crashes into another, it is invariably the first driver at fault. The first driver will be liable to pay any compensation award for the car accident*. There can be incidents where this is not the case, but they are incredibly rare.
All parties’ insurance companies will want to investigate the scene of the road traffic accident* and the vehicle damage, particularly where liability is at issue. They will generally engage a motor assessor to complete their investigations. You should always ask for a copy of their report. If possible, your engineer should physically inspect any of the vehicles involved.
Road Traffic Accident Engineer
Where liability is disputed, you must engage a specialist road traffic accident engineer*. They will likely want to inspect the locus of the car accident*. If you have taken up a copy of the Motor Assessor’s report from your insurer’s inspection, we would highly recommend that this is also given to your engineer.
Bringing a Claim to MIBI
Bringing a personal injuries claim* to MIBI is different from filing a regular accident claim*. The MIBI Agreement is a very detailed document, with very particular terms and conditions. For example, you must share all your medical reports and notes, witness statements, Garda reports and other documentation with MIBI. This would not be the case in other car accident compensation claims*. It is also necessary to serve all documentation by registered post or email. Failure to comply with these and other conditions can be critical to the success of your personal injuries claim*.
Car Accidents* Involving Uninsured or Untraced Drivers
Many people believe that if they have been injured in an accident, which is the fault of an uninsured driver, that they have no recourse.
If you have been injured in a car accident* where the driver at fault is uninsured or unidentified, you are entitled to bring a personal injury claim* against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI). All motor insurers in Ireland must sign up to the MIBI Agreement and pay towards the MIBI compensation fund. The MIBI Agreement sets out the terms under which the board will pay compensation for personal injury claims* concerning car accidents* caused by uninsured vehicles.
Passengers of the driver at fault are also entitled to bring an accident claim* against the MIBI. To do so, however, they must not have been aware that the driver was uninsured at the time of the accident. If you are involved in a car accident* involving an uninsured driver, it is essential that you immediately report the accident to the Gardaí. You should get as much information as possible from the uninsured driver, such as their name, contact details and registration number. All this information will be required when submitting your personal injury claim* application to the MIBI.
You can also pursue your personal injuries claim* through the MIBI if the other party leaves the scene without giving you their details: for example, if you are injured in a car accident* where the other vehicle does not stop or gives you false details. It is essential that you immediately report the accident to the Gardaí so that everything possible can be done to identify the other driver. This also applies to a pedestrian or cyclist who suffered personal injuries* in hit and run accidents.
Vehicle and Property Damage Claims with MIBI
The MIBI Agreement allows for the payment of compensation of vehicle/property claims arising from car accidents*, provided the other vehicle is identifiable via a valid registration plate. Therefore, if you are in a car accident* where your car is damaged by an unidentified or untraced driver, you cannot claim for car damage. You can still make a personal injuries claim* – it is worth noting that an excess of €220 still applies.
Speak to a Solicitor who Specializes in Car Accident Claims*
If you have been injured in a car accident* and want to file a personal injury claim*, we suggest speaking to a solicitor who specializes in personal injury law*. At Hanahoe and Hanahoe Solicitors, we offer consultations in-person, over Zoom, and over the phone. By speaking with a solicitor who specializes, your case will be dealt with by an expert Personal Injury Solicitor* and not a legal executive or secretary.
Why Choose Hanahoe & Hanahoe?
At Hanahoe and Hanahoe Solicitors, we have over 40 years’ experience advising clients across Ireland on car accident claims. We have offices in Dublin and Naas, with our personal injury solicitors* using up-to-date legal technologies to advise a nationwide clientele on all types of road traffic accidents*.
We are an award-winning law firm, underlining our position as one of the best and most respected personal injury law firms* in the country.
- Nominated as Personal Injury and Medical Negligence Law Firm of the Year, Irish Law Awards (2019).
- Two-time winner of Leinster Law Firm of the Year, Irish Law Awards (2017) (2018).
What is contributory negligence?
Contributory negligence is a legal principle where the injured party may have contributed to their injuries in an accident by acting negligently. The amount by which compensation is deducted will depend on the medical evidence produced at the personal injury court case*. While every personal injury case* will be decided on its own merits, the judge will be guided by case law.
Can I file a personal injuries claim if I was not wearing a seatbelt?
The simple answer is yes. If you are injured in a car accident* that was not your fault, you can file a car accident compensation claim* even if you were not wearing a seatbelt. You are legally obliged to wear a seatbelt and had you been wearing one, it is likely that your personal injuries* would have been greatly reduced. Therefore it is extremely likely that a judge will determine your negligence in failing to wear a seatbelt, therefore contributing to your injuries. As such the compensation you receive for your injuries will be reduced. This is an example of contributory negligence.
How much compensation will be deducted if I was not wearing a seatbelt?
If you would have sustained no injuries at all in the car accident*, had you been wearing a seatbelt, then there should a 25% reduction in compensation. If the injuries would not have been as severe if you had been wearing a seatbelt, 10% should be deducted. If wearing a seatbelt would have made no difference to the injuries sustained, there should be no deduction. This is how the case law currently stands, but as we have seen from the recent Court of Appeal decision, personal injuries law* is continually evolving.
Hanahoe and Hanahoe have a proven successful track record in the filing of personal injury claims*. We deal with our clients’ cases with efficiency and proactivity. Rather than using unnecessary legal jargon, we keep you up to date with the progression of your case, so you know you are in safe hands.
Due to the amount of road traffic accidents* in Ireland every year, it is not surprising that car accident claims* are the most common type of personal injury claims in Ireland.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.