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What to do after a car accident

Being involved in a car or road-traffic accident can be a frightening experience, and might leave you quite shaken for some time, in addition to any injuries you might suffer. In the moment, it can be quite difficult to think clearly due to shock. However, by law, there are some actions that you need to take – and others that are advisable for your own safety and insurance purposes. 

What to do if you have been involved in a road traffic accident

If you have been involved in a motor collision, Section 106 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 sets out some actions you will need to take.

First of all: 

  • You should stop the car as soon as possible – it is an offence not to do so. If your vehicle is still moving, pull over as soon as you can. You should then turn off the engine and switch on your hazard lights. 
  • Check yourself and your passengers to ensure everyone is safe. If anybody has been hurt, you should call 999 if necessary. You should try to take some deep breaths and keep calm as much as you can so that you can take stock of the situation. 
  • It’s important that, in the aftermath of the accident, you do not admit fault or apologise until you know exactly what happened – this can protect you from liability if the accident was not your fault. 

What next?

If the collision is serious, do not move the cars. However if it is minor and the cars involved are blocking the road, or causing a danger to other road users, mark their position on the road and then move them. Take photos of the scene of the collision – especially if you are moving the vehicles.  Be aware that damaged cars may be leaking fuel. 

Try to warn oncoming traffic of the accident if it is safe to do so. You could turn on your hazard lights, or if you have a reflective advance-warning triangle then place it on the road far enough from the scene of the collision to give enough warning to approaching traffic. If the collision has occurred near a bend in the road, make sure you’re giving warning to traffic on both sides of the bend. 

You should notify An Garda Siochána as soon as possible, and they may attend the scene of the collision. If a Garda is present at the scene of the collision, you must provide them with the information that they request from you. This could include: 

  • Your name and address, the address at which your car is kept, the name and address of the car’s owner, the car’s registration number, and motor insurance details. 

If a Garda is not present, you must report the accident as soon as you can to a Garda who is nearby or at a Garda station, no more than 24-hours later. 

Gather your information

Get the names, address and telephone numbers of any witnesses – these may be required if a question of liability arises. You should also get the name or number of the Garda to whom the collision is reported. Write down what happened as soon as you can and sign and date your account (including the time) once it’s completed. This will help you to keep your report clear and as accurate as possible and include as much detail as you can: what sort of damage was caused, what were the driving conditions like, what was the time and date of the crash are just a few thought starters. 

Uninsured or unidentified cars: If you wish to claim compensation where you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or unidentified car, you will need to contact the Motor Insurer’s Bureau of Ireland (MIBI).

Making a claim 

If you have been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to make a personal injuries claim. Your first step in this process should be to contact your solicitor, who will advise as to whether your claim is valid, and your options in proceeding with the claim. 

For a claim to be successful, fault must be determined. In situations where blame is not clear, there are laws such as the Rules of the Road which will determine fault. Where both parties are somewhat responsible, ‘contributory negligence’ will come into play. You should speak to your solicitor if this is the case. And even if the other driver is not disputing liability for the accident, it’s always best to speak with your solicitor if you were injured in a road traffic accident. 

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. *

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.

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