Road accidents are unexpected and stressful, but unfortunately they’re also a common occurrence. In fact thousands of collisions happen every year in Ireland. Chances are that you, a close family member, or a friend will be involved in an accident, so it’s important to know what to do ahead of time to protect the interests of yourself and loved ones.
1. Stop. Don’t drive away.
Turn off the car, put on your hazards, and take a deep breath. Check yourself and anyone involved for injuries. If there are serious injuries, dial 112 or 999 for emergency services. If there are only minor injuries, write them down and follow-up with your GP.
Note that some injuries may take a few days to manifest, so it's a good idea to go ahead and see your GP anyway for a check-up. Remember the same can happen for the other individuals involved as well, so it’s important to note their injuries for reference in case it comes up in a claim.
2. Document the scene.
Note the time and date. Use your phone to take pictures of all vehicles involved (including number plates and insurance documents) as they are. Photograph the surroundings including any signage or buildings to show where the accident occurred. Look up and around for any CCTV cameras on nearby buildings or dashcams on nearby vehicles as their footage could be helpful in settling liability disputes.
3. Contact An Garda Síochána.
We always recommend contacting An Garda Síochána, and if possible, do not move the vehicles until they get there. If the vehicles must be moved, then photographing the scene beforehand is even more important in the case of any liability disputes. Also, note the name of the investigating member of An Garda and the relevant Garda Station.
4. Exchange full details between drivers of vehicles.
Either write down or note on your phone the following details for all vehicles involved: driver’s name, address and full insurance details (e.g. Insurance Company and policy number). In Ireland, original insurance discs are required to be displayed in the front windscreen of the vehicle. A photograph should be taken to capture the details.
If one of the involved vehicles is a lorry, get the number plates on both the lorry and the trailer as sometimes they are different. Also, note the name of the company on the side.
Don’t forget to take down the name and contact details of any other passengers and witnesses as well.
5. Don’t immediately apologize.
Accidents can cause shock, distress, and confusion. So it’s tempting, seemingly polite even, to offer apologies even when the accident wasn’t your fault. Resist. An apology can be seen as an admission of responsibility. Ask “are you okay” and offer sympathies until the Garda arrive to sort out the story.
6. Get legal advice.
Whether a minor or serious accident, get legal advice as soon as you can. Asking assistance from a legal third party like Martin A. Harvey & Co will help you to navigate the complicated communications between the various involved parties including insurance companies.
Our legal advice can help guard your rights and provide you with important information on a range of issues from compensation to vehicle depreciation. Also, we will immediately appoint a Motor Assessor to inspect your vehicle and prepare an estimate of repairs.
Road accidents happen in a blink-of-an-eye, but your reaction to them should be informed and considered. If you have been in a road accident or would like to discuss a personal injury that you have suffered, please contact the team at Martin A Harvey & Co. Solicitors and we would be happy to assist you. *