Dealing with the unexpected scenario of any accident is difficult. In the moment it can be hard to know what to do. Caroline McLaughlin is a Partner in our Personal Injuries Department. Here she outlines some key points to consider if you are involved in a car accident.
What to do at the scene of a road traffic accident
- The first thing to do if you are involved in a car accident is to safely stop the car as soon as possible.
- You should notify Garda of any accident that you are involved in. They will either attend at the scene or may investigate afterwards.
- Find out how everyone is following the accident. Asking someone if they are ok is not an admission of Liability. So often when taking instructions regarding the circumstances of an accident a client will state “they didn’t even ask if I was ok.” While there is no doubt that people are uncertain as to what to do human nature should dictate that the main concern after any accident should be to enquire as to the wellbeing of those involved. Such enquiries are not an admission of Liability.
- You should never leave the scene of an accident. If you do you may face a criminal prosecution.
- If no Gardai can attend exchange insurance particulars and details. Take note of key details; time, location, weather conditions, the number of passengers in the various cars involved as you will need to notify your insurance company of such details. If Gardai are not present you should document these details as soon as possible as an aide memoir.
- Take photographs where possible of any vehicle damage, registration plates, skid marks on road.
What to do after you have been involved in or witness a car accident
- Retain any dash camera footage.
- Notify your insurance company immediately regardless as to whether you feel blames rests with you or not. You are obliged to notify your insurance company regardless and it will protect your interests in the event that a claim is brought against you.
Car accident clams and compensation
- If you receive a Letter of Claim/ Letter of demand in the days following an accident you should immediately notify your insurance company. They will deal with such correspondence for you. Do not reply to the letter yourself. Furthermore, you do not need to reply via Solicitor. Simply notify your insurance company and send them a copy of the letter. This is the purpose of your insurance cover.
- If your vehicle is damaged and is brought to a garage you should note that you will only recover reasonable storage charges and accordingly, efforts should be made to either resolve matters with the other insurance company or claim through your own comprehensive cover. Your own insurance company will then seek to recover their outlays through the relevant party.
- If your vehicle is deemed to be a write off, you will only recover the net book value of the car not what you feel that you would be able to sell it for or the value is has to you.
- If you are injured, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
- By Law you must issue a Letter of Claim within 1 month of the accident date. If you fail to do so a Judge shall draw inferences as appear proper and either refuse legal costs or reduced legal costs accordingly where the interests of justice require.
If you have questions about any of the issues raised in this article you can contact Caroline McLaughlin, Partner in the Personal Injury Practice Area of Callan Tansey Solicitors, 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