In the first five months of this year, up until 11th May, there were 64 fatal accidents with 71 fatalities on Irish roads. In life all of us will probably be involved in at least one road traffic accident and it is important to know what to do.
What to do if you are involved in a Road Traffic Accident
If you’re involved in an accident, it’s important to get as much information as possible. This will assist your claim and help obtain the best possible outcome at a later date.
There are a number of steps you should take when involved in a road traffic accident.
It is important to remain calm at the scene and to show concern for the health and safety of the other motorist(s).
Call the Gardai immediately and report the incident. Where the Gardai do not attend at the scene of the accident, go to the nearest Garda station and give details of the accident. This will be important at a later date if the third party denies that the accident occurred or if s/he is uninsured.
If there are witnesses to the accident, get their name, address and phone number – they could be essential in proving that you were not responsible for the collision.
Each driver should exchange contact details including names, addresses and telephone numbers of drivers, passengers and pedestrians involved. If a party is driving within the course of his employment, take both the driver and the employer’s details. It may be worth noting a description of the driver, location and any distinguishing features.
Each driver should also exchange insurance details and you should get the registration number of the other vehicle as the insurance details may be incorrect or false.
You should take photographs of the scene; the vehicles involved, debris from crashed vehicles, and any marks on the road related to the accident and arrange to have photographs taken of any visible injuries you have suffered – this provides a useful historical record when at a later date many of the physical scars of an injury have healed from sight.
You should write down in detail how the accident happened and what injuries you suffered setting out the time, date, weather conditions, road conditions, visibility, lighting conditions, including street lighting and the accident itself and why you consider the other party is at fault. You should also make a note of whether the other driver was using headlights and/or indicator lights.
After the accident – even if it has only been a minor one – you should always see your doctor for a check up. Failure to attend a doctor at an early stage may cause difficulty later on. Tell the doctor about the accident and detail all your injuries, both physical and psychological, no matter how trivial they may seem. Sometimes an injury is entirely psychological; sleeping difficulties, headaches, problems coping with simple everyday situations, constant tiredness, loss of memory and nightmares or flashbacks to the accident are all common symptoms after a frightening accident. If you have any of these symptoms, you should bring them to our attention and to the attention of your doctor immediately. If necessary, we can obtain a medical report from any specialist you may attend.
You should inform your insurance company immediately; even if you consider that it was not your fault. Your insurer will ask you to complete an accident report form for their file. Failure to report the accident to your insurers could mean that your insurance company would not cover you at a later date should someone make a claim against you.
Record and keep all receipts for your out of pocket expenses such as doctor’s fees, traveling expenses, pharmacy bills, hospital fees and property damage as a result of your accident.
Bring your vehicle to a garage to establish the repair cost. If the pre-accident value is less than the repair cost the car will be written off and you will be allowed the pre-accident value less the scrap or salvage value of the car. If the car is repairable you are entitled to depreciation in addition to the repair cost. You are also entitled to hire a vehicle in the meantime.
What you should not do at the scene of a Road Traffic Accident
Do not move your car and tell the other vehicles involved to stay where they are also until the Gardai arrive. If it is necessary to move a vehicle to allow access to the scene for emergency vehicles, use your phone to take clear photographs of the scene and if possible mark the position of all four wheels on the road.
Do not admit liability at the scene of the accident. Many people will be surprised to learn that it is often a condition of their Insurance Policy not to admit liability following an accident.