Article – 4th September 2012
Introduction / Facts:
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.
If I have a Road Traffic Accident what should I do?
It is okay to be a nice person?
Do not get angry at the scene. Remain calm and if the other party is not calm, try to remain in your car.
It is okay to appear concerned for the health and safety of the other motorist. People so often hear that you must not admit liability at the scene and confuse this with having to ignore the other party.
It is also okay to follow up with a phone call or a visit to enquire of a person’s wellbeing – indeed, one of the top 3 reasons that claimant’s site for being encouraged to seek damages for their injuries is that the other party showed no interest in their wellbeing.
Call the Gardai
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 ask the Garda at the Station to take details of the accident. This will be important at a later date if the third party denies that the accident occurred or if he is uninsured. There is a book in each Garda Station which records details of road traffic accidents and you should get the Garda to take down details in your presence. Simply give your own details i.e. Name, Address, registration of car and insurance details and where possible the same details concerning the other driver.
If anyone else saw the accident happen and they have stopped, get their name and address and phone number – you may never have the chance again and they could be essential in proving that you were not responsible for the collision.
Get the registration number of the other vehicle
This is perhaps the most important piece of information that is required. People have often taken insurance details from the other driver only to discover that the insurance was faulty or that there was not in fact any insurance on the vehicle at the time. This may mean that your Solicitor will become involved with the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland who deals with uninsured drivers and for them the most important piece of information is generally the registration number since it can assist them in completing their investigations with greater speed.
Take insurance details
Take insurance details which can be readily obtained from the disc on the windscreen. Each driver should exchange insurance details with the other.
The Driver’s and owner’s name and address
Wherever and whenever possible behave politely but be firm in the determination to take information from the other driver. People are very often shocked following an accident and may take insufficient or false information from the other driver.
What steps should I take following the accident?
Protect all evidence
At the very earliest opportunity following an accident, you should take photographs of the scene, the vehicles involved, debris from crashed vehicles, damage to crashed vehicles and any marks on the road related to the accident. Once vehicles are moved it is very difficult to prove where they had been and so if you cannot take photographs, you should measure and note the position of vehicles on the road with reference to certain fixed objects such as a telegraph pole or entrance. Also measure the length of any skid marks that may be on the road.
You should also 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.
Do a detailed statement of how the accident happened
It is most important that you write down in the fullest detail how the accident happened and what injuries you suffered. You should set out the time, date, weather conditions, road conditions and the mechanics of the accident and why you consider the other party is at fault.
We have a standard questionnaire which should assist you in completing this statement so do not hesitate to ask for assistance. It is important that you complete this statement at the earliest date. You should include as much detail as you can remember, no matter how trivial. You have no way of knowing at an early stage what will prove to be important as your case progresses.
Record your injuries
After the accident – even if it has only been a minor one – you should always see your doctor for a checkup. This is important. A failure to attend a doctor at an early stage may cause difficulty later on. Make sure you tell the doctor that you were involved in an accident and detail all your injuries, both physical and psychological, no matter how trivial they may seem to you at the time. Make sure that the doctor makes a note of these details.
It is very difficult to remember some months or years after the accidents how you felt in the “early days”. Buy a diary and keep a record of present symptoms and from then on, record your condition on a regular basis. You should also keep a note of all your medical examinations, when you went, what was said and any medical opinions offered.
Sometimes an injury is exclusively psychological. Sleeping difficulties, headaches, problems coping with simple everyday situations, constant tiredness, loss of memory, nightmares or flashbacks to the accident are all common symptoms after a frightening accident. If any of these symptoms affect you, you should bring them to our attention and to the attention of your doctor immediately.
If your doctor suggests referring you to a specialist for an opinion on any aspect of your injuries, you should go ahead with the referral at the earliest possible date and advise us, so that if necessary, we can obtain a report of that specialist’s opinion.
Report the accident to your own insurers
If you are the driver or owner of a vehicle, you should inform your own 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.
We would encourage you to seek our assistance in completing this accident report form.
Ensure that you give us a copy of any correspondence you have with your insurer.
Record your out-of-pocket expenses
You are going to have out of pocket expenses such as doctor’s fees, traveling expenses, pharmacy bills, hospital fees and property damage as a result of your accident. Make sure that you keep all receipts and record all such expenses in your diary. If you have a loss in wages, furnish our office with your social welfare (PPS) number and any P60’s / P45’s in your possession, together with a letter from your employer setting out your weekly loss of earnings – both Net and Gross.
You should use your accident diary to record details of all these expenses.
You should keep copies of all invoices or receipts received – you could use your diary for this purpose also.
Vehicle Repairs: Get an Estimate
If your car has been damaged as a result of the accident, we will need to establish whether or not the car is
a) A write-off i.e. uneconomical to repair compared to the cost of replacement
You should bring it to a garage to establish the repair cost in comparison to the pre-accident value of the car. 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 at approximately 10% (for relatively new cars) of the pre vat repair figure in addition to the repair cost.
You are also entitled to hire an alternative vehicle while your car is being repaired or replaced though you should be careful not to hire for a period beyond 3 weeks without discussing the matter with us. There is a fundamental obligation on you to minimize your own loss and therefore you should act quickly in arranging the repairs to your vehicle or the purchase of a replacement if necessary.
Even if you do not hire a car, we may be able to recover for you a sum of money for the loss of use of your car. i.e. the inconvenience of being without it.
What should I not do at the scene of a Road Traffic Accident?
Do not move your car
Leave you car where it is 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
Don’t admit liability at the scene of the accident. Many people will be surprised to learn that it is actually very often a condition of their Insurance Policy not to admit liability following an accident.
In the majority of accidents where there are no injuries or only minor injuries and where the Gardai do not concern themselves with attending at the scene of the accident, you should be sure to at least get the registration number of the other car and bring this information to your Solicitor.
In addition your Solicitor will find the following information helpful:
- The full name and address of the driver.
- The full name and address of the owner, if different from above
- The name and address of the Insurance Company involved with details of Policy number.
- The expiry date of the Policy.