The most recent statistics from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) confirm that in 2021 there were 124 collisions resulting in 137 fatalities on the road in Ireland. The statistics further confirm that of the total number: –

  • 100 male/ 37 female
  • 49 were vulnerable road users (20 pedestrian/ 22 motor bike/ 7 road bike)
  • 27 % of all drivers and passengers were not wearing their seatbelts

While the overall numbers mark a 7% decrease in numbers from 2020 this remains a significant number. Here our Caroline McLaughlin, Partner,  addresses some of the questions she is most frequently asked following fatal accidents on the road.


What do I do if I witness a fatal road accident?


If you witness a fatal road traffic accident you should immediately make, contact with the emergency services. You should provide your name and contact details to members of an Garda Siochana present or make contact afterwards. You should keep note of what you observe in the area, the position of vehicles, weather conditions, speed and anything other information which may be relevant to any Garda investigation. You should provide a witness statement to the investigating Gardai when requested. If you have dash camera footage you should retain same and make available to the investigating Garda. If what you witness causes you any distress, you should seek medical attention to assist you in dealing with what you have witnessed. If you have suffered an injury from your experience, you should seek legal advice.


What do I do if I am involved in a fatal road accident?


If you are involved in an accident which results in a fatality you should ensure that the emergency services and Gardai are immediately notified. You should follow their guidance at the scene. You should make all relevant information available so that the Gardai can fully investigate the circumstances of the incident. If you are involved as a driver, you should notify your insurance company of your involvement. Your vehicle may be held by An Garda Siochana for further investigations.


What do I do if a loved one is the victim of a fatal road accident?


If your loved one is the victim of a fatal road accident, we express our deepest sympathies to you. In the aftermath of a fatality not all information will be available. Dealing with the trauma of a bereavement is an extremely difficult time for any family. There may be an ongoing Garda investigation which will involve taking statements from witnesses and gathering essential evidence. The Gardai will appoint a Garda Family Liaison Officer to inform the family as to what is happening and further steps. There may be unanswered questions for a considerable period of time until investigations are concluded, and an Inquest takes place. Depending on the circumstances of the incident it may be necessary to obtain legal advice from a Solictor to advise on the legal processes involved to bring a fatal injury action.


What is a fatal injury?


When a wrongful act of another results in death a fatal injury action may be maintained by those defined by law as a dependent of the deceased.


Who is considered a dependent?


The list of persons classed as dependent are: –

  • A spouse, civil partner (as defined by law), parent, grandparent, stepparent, child, grandchild, stepchild, brother, sister, half-brother, half sister
  • A person whose marriage to the deceased was dissolved by decree of divorce
  • A person whose civil partnership was dissolved by decree of dissolution
  • A person with whom the deceased was living with as husband and wife for a continuous period of not less than 3 years.


Are there time periods I need to be aware of?


Under Irish Law an action relating to a fatal injury must be commenced within a period of 2 years. There is a further obligation to notify of intention to bring a case within a period of one month however, for those dealing with a bereavement it may not be possible for a family to obtain legal advice within this time period. In those circumstances legal advice should be obtained at the earliest opportunity.


Seek support after Fatal Accidents on the Road


There are various support group in Ireland that can provide support to families including PARC Road Safety Group and the Irish Road Victims Association (IRVA). If required support should also be obtained from medical advisors.

Caroline McLaughlin in a Partner at Callan Tansey Solicitors LLP in the Personal Injury* Department. You can listen back to her interview on Ocean FM discussing issues raised in this article here.

If you have questions about any of the issues raised in this article, or any other matters relating to Fatal Injury you can contact Caroline directly at or by phone on 071 916 2032.

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