What Should I Do Immediately After a Car Accident?
Whether you’re lucky enough to get away with a few scratches, or find yourself seriously injured, a car accident can be a devastating and disturbing experience. An accident can leave you feeling shaken and vulnerable, and full of questions regarding the best way to handle the situation. Take a look at our brief guide on what you should do following a car accident:
I’ve Just Been Involved in a Car Accident What Should I Do?
If you’ve injured you need to wait for assistance. Even if you are unscathed, chances are you are going to be knocked for six by what’s just happened. There are a few things you need to think about:
- Try to remain calm, hitting the panic button won’t ease your situation.
- Your welfare is top priority – does anyone need medical assistance?
- Get your bearings and assess how serious the situation is.
- If you been involved in a serious collision your vehicle should stay put.
- If your vehicle is leaking fuel you need to switch off your engine.
- If the incident is less serious, and the conditions are hazardous (e.g. if you have come to a stop across a busy section of road), you might need to move your vehicle to a less dangerous spot.
- Remember to switch on hazard lights.
Should I Leave the Scene Immediately After an Accident?
The only reason you should leave the scene is if you require emergency medical assistance and are loaded into the back of an ambulance! If there are injured parties and/or damage to vehicles or property this needs to be dealt with before you depart.
If you do leave the scene of an accident prior to taking the correct course of action you are acting illegally.
- Assess the situation and act accordingly (we’ve outlined when you need to contact the emergency services / Gardai below).
- Contact the emergency services / Gardai if required and wait for their arrival.
- Deal with injuries and damage in accordance with instructions from the emergency services and Gardai.
- If the emergency services / Gardai are not required don’t forget to exchange details with the other party, and keep a note and photographs detailing the incident.
- DO NOT LEAVE without doing the above, or you will be at risk of arrest and prosecution.
The Other Driver Has Left the Scene of The Accident, What Should I Do?
If the other driver has left the scene without dealing with the situation (e.g. contacting or waiting for the emergency service / Gardai, or exchanging information), then they are acting illegally.
Try and make a note of their details if possible (registration number if there’s time and a description of the vehicle). Pass on all details to the Gardai, they will try and track down the driver. CCTV helps to make our roads safer, and if there’s a camera pointing towards the road it will be easier to see what’s happened and find the perpetrator.
Do I Need to Contact the Emergency Services / Gardai?
An accident can leave you feeling disorientated and distressed, you might not be thinking clearly but it’s important you try and get to grips with the situation as soon as possible. You might need to call for assistance from the emergency services / Gardai, here’s a brief guideline on who you will need to call and when:
You need to contact the emergency services/ Gardai immediately if:
- You suspect someone involved is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Someone requires immediate medical assistance (never move a casualty if you suspect they have a spinal or head injury).
- You suspect the accident was caused on purpose.
- The other party has left the scene of the accident prior to dealing with the situation.
You need to contact the Gardai within 24 hours if:
- Someone has been injured during the accident (but does not require emergency / immediate medical assistance).
- There is significant damage to a vehicle.
Chance are you won’t need to contact the Gardai if:
- No-one is hurt or injured due to the accident.
- Damage to the vehicle(s) is only minor.
What should you do if you don’t need to contact the Gardai?
- Exchange contact details with the other party.
- Exchange insurance details with the other party.
- Take photographs of any minor damage
- Note down when and where the incident happened.
- Note down the circumstances surrounding the incident.
I’ve Contacted the Gardai, What Happens Next?
If the Gardai do need to attend you can prepare for their arrival in advance by:
- Taking photographs of any damage.
- Take a photograph of the location of the accident.
- Jot down the registration numbers of the vehicles involved.
- Make a note of any witnesses.
When the Gardai arrive, they will want to get a handle on the situation, checking out the location of the accident, position of vehicles and the circumstances surrounding the incident. The Gardai will also request the following information from each involved party:
- Name and address
- Address of location where the vehicle is kept.
- Name and address of vehicle owner (if different to the driver’s details).
- Registration number of the vehicle.
- Vehicle insurance details.
Should I Admit the Accident Was My Fault?
Try not to make too many comments about the accident afterwards, you may be in shock and it can be easy to blame yourself (or others) when you’re feeling vulnerable.
Similarly, don’t accept the blame if the other party are pointing the finger, and if they indicate they are at fault try not to chime in either. They may well change their mind about being at fault once they have checked their policy!
Steer clear of any assumption, blame and opinions of what has just taken place – only the facts matter at this point. If you admit liability your insurance company won’t be impressed – and could repeal your policy. Check out the small print if you’re not sure!
Should I Seek Medical Assistance Following an Accident?
Accidents can be harrowing, leading to fatalities and serious injuries requiring emergency medical care. Not all vehicle accidents lead to major injury, and you may feel fine immediately after an incident, brush yourself off and walk away relatively unscathed.
However, it’s always advisable to get yourself checked over by a medical professional. Not all injuries are immediately visible, and the initial shock following your accident may mask any symptoms or indications of trauma.
What If the Accident Was My Fault and No Other Vehicle Was Involved?
Accidents do happen, and that’s where comprehensive vehicle insurance comes in. You will need to pay an excess on your policy (again, check out the small print), but your insurer should sort out any repairs required to your vehicle. If you do not have comprehensive cover you will need to cover the costs yourself.
How Do I Notify My Insurance Company?
Ideally, you need to report the incident to your insurance company straight away (whilst you are still at the scene of the accident).
The disc on your windscreen should have the contact details on (you can also keep the contact info stored in your mobile phone). Your insurance company should provide the support and you need, guide you through making a claim and advise you should the other party make a claim against you.
What Will Happen to My No Claims Bonus?
This all depends on whether you have a protected no claims bonus. If you opted for this, then you will not lose your no claims bonus (as long as you have not made any more than two insurance claims over the course of the past three years). There’s also something known as step back protection (which involves deducting your no claims bonus by a certain percentage). Take a look at your policy if you’re not sure what you agreed to at the start!
I’ve Just Found Out the Other Driver Has No Insurance, What Happens Now?
Not all drivers are law-abiding citizens (unfortunately)! If you are unlucky enough to be involved in an accident with an uninsured driver don’t panic. The Motor Insurer’s Bureau of Ireland can help. They offer compensation to those who have been involved in an accident with an uninsured or unknown vehicle. Your solicitor will be able to help you to get the ball rolling with this (you will need to fill in an application).
Which Injuries Are Most Commonly Associated with Traffic Accidents?
If you are uninjured following an accident, then count your lucky stars. Unfortunately, there are a range of injuries that go hand in hand with a traffic accident, the most common are:
- Torn ligaments.
- Head injuries.
- Spinal injuries.
What Is Whiplash and Do I Have It?
Of all of the injures associated with traffic accidents, whiplash (a neck injury caused by trauma) tends to be the most common. Whiplash is caused when an impact triggers the head/neck of the driver or passenger to violently pitch back and forth.
You might not even notice you have whiplash immediately – it can take several days for symptoms to come to light. Our advice is simple – always seek medical advice following an accident.
My Vehicle Was Hit from Behind, Who Is at Fault?
As a general rule the driver of the vehicle that’s run into the back of you is assumed to have a degree of responsibility. It’s widely believed if you are travelling behind another vehicle you need to ensure a safe stopping distance from it.
That said, it’s not always the fault of the driver at the rear. In certain cases, there may be little choice but to rear end another vehicle, this might happen because the driver in front:
- Reverses suddenly.
- Has broken brake lights.
- Has broken down, but is displaying no hazard lights.
- Has broken down and is hazardously blocking traffic.
What Happens if I Don’t Know Who Caused the Accident?
Not all accidents are black and white, and sometimes it can be difficult to pin the blame on one party. The “rules of the road” can help us to some extent, e.g. a driver rear-ending a vehicle takes partial or all responsibility as they should have left a reasonable distance between themselves and the vehicle in front. However, there are always exceptions to rules!
Sometimes, it’s just not clear who is at fault (e.g. if there is a motorway pile-up involving multiple vehicles). In cases such as this we turn to “contributary negligence.” This can be a time-consuming process, and involves deciding how much blame should be apportioned to each party.
As a Passenger Involved in a Car Accident, Can I Sue?
If you were injured in an accident, and travelling as a passenger, you can sue the driver of the vehicle, or the driver of another vehicle. Providing there is evidence of blame.
Should I Contact a Personal Injury Solicitor Following an Accident?
Contacting a solicitor might not be at the forefront of your mind following a car accident, but it’s important to get the legal aspects covered as soon as possible.
The Law Society website offers a list of reputable personal injury solicitors. They will talk to you in detail about your accident and assess whether you have a viable claim to make.
If they think there’s a legal case for a claim, your solicitor will request proof of personal details and send you “terms” which you will need to read through and sign. The personal injury solicitor will support you throughout the claim, guiding you through the process.
What’s Involved in Making a Claim?
If you were deemed not to be at fault, and it can be proven that another party was responsible for your injuries, you are eligible to make a claim. All personal injury claims are handled by the Personal Injury Assessment Board.
The board look at the report submitted by your doctor and decide on compensation using the “Book of Quantum.” It may sound like a new Bond movie but The Book of Quantum actually provided an outline as to how much compensation should be awarded in relation to the injuries sustained.
Is It Possible to Cancel a Claim?
If you were not considered to be at fault you are able to cancel a claim, however you should keep in mind that this could have an impact in the future if you decide to look into claiming compensation for any injury or damage.
How Long Do I Have to Make a Claim Following the Accident?
The Civil Liability and Courts 2004 states you need to make a claim within two years of your accident (or from the time you discovered the accident resulted in an injury).
What Is Meant By “No Win No Fee”
This is solicitor jargon for, if we don’t win your case we won’t charge you anything for our time (you won’t pay legal fees). If you are successful in your claim you should also be aware that solicitors cannot work out their fee depending on how much you are awarded.
What Type of Compensation Are Available?
If you are injured in an accident and it’s not deemed to be your fault you can claim compensation. Damages can be awarded based on:
- Injury sustained due to the accident.
- Lost earnings.
- The cost of medical care.
- Damage and loss of property.
Will I Have to Attend Court?
Personal injury claims rarely make it to court – a competent solicitor can help to ensure your claim goes smoothly. However, on the odd occasion the claim goes to court it could take up to three years to receive a verdict. You might have to attend court if:
- The Injuries Board provide an assessment which either party, or the insurance company disagrees with.
- The diagnosis (relating to injuries sustained) is uncertain.
- The injured person will not be able to take part in the assessment within the given timeframe (usually 9 months or up to 12 months if necessary).
- Too much time has lapsed due to an error with the paperwork.
- The case is based upon psychological issues rather than physical injury.
- There’s a case for medical negligence.
I Have Been Involved in A Car Accident, Who Can Help Me?
We’ve talked about what you should and should not do after an accident, and we’ve touched on the distress you might feel. It’s important to give yourself time to recover, to recoup any losses and to move forward with your life.
We would like to help you with that. We understand you might be feeling a bit vulnerable right now, and we want to let you know we’re only a phone call away should you need us to provide you with support to make a successful personal injury claim.