Road traffic accidents are unfortunately very common. No day passes without multiple accidents, throughout the country, that range from vehicle damage to passenger or driver injury or even death. And while we can be extremely careful on the road ourselves we have no control over how other drivers behave and we can wind up in a life-changing accident even when we are being very good drivers.
For this reason it’s important to be prepared for how you might react and the steps you need to take if this does happen to you. Even a minor accident can cause shock and anxiety that affects our responses and ability to deal with what is a very stressful situation.
If you are seeking a personal injury claim in Longford, this article is designed to give you the information and guidance you need to protect yourself after a road traffic accident today.
Am I entitled to claim?
Who is entitled for a claim?
If you are a passenger, a driver or a pedestrian that becomes involved in an accident that is not your fault you are entitled to claim for compensation against personal injuries experienced or costs accrued because of the accident. The seriousness of the injuries is not the issue at stake, it is the fact that you were injured in some way that was not of your doing. Irrespective of your opinion of how bad the injury is you are entitled to seek advice as to whether you can make a claim against the driver or other vehicle owner.
What type of accidents are entitled?
There are many different types of accidents and injuries related to traffic collisions and other traffic issues. They are often grouped around the type of vehicle and where the accident happened, such as the following.
Many accidents occur involving taxis where you are a passenger or involved in a crash that involves a taxi.
If you are a passenger and injured in an accident it is not relevant who was at fault. You will almost always receive compensation as you hired the taxi to bring you to your destination safely. The taxi driver is contracted to ensure you are safe.
If you are in another vehicle and involved in an accident with a taxi then the issue of causation is the same as with other traffic accidents.
Cycling is an increasingly popular mode of transport but given that a cyclist shares the road with an ever increasing number of vehicles it is a very common traffic accident type. It is also very likely that a cyclist will receive more frequent and life-changing injuries because they are so unprotected. Not only can they receive injuries from the collision itself, they will also likely experience burns and other skin abrasions from hitting the ground surface.
Cyclists are often hit by cars but a very common cycling accident type is when a bicycle is in the blind spot of a truck or other large vehicle like a bus. This can be a tragic and fatal scenario for many.
Cyclists also have to beware road surfaces, road furniture such as tram lines and spillages. Each of these can result in an accident which is not of the cyclists making and entitles them to claim for personal injury against the authority responsible.
Motorcycles and mopeds
As with bicycles, drivers of motorbikes and mopeds are extremely vulnerable on the road and accidents that they are involved in can result in devastating injury which is not of their making. If you or a family member have experienced an accident such as this then get in touch to find out if you are eligible to make a personal injury claim.
Without a doubt, pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users. They often suffer life-changing injuries and death. Even if the involvement of a pedestrian in an accident is partly their fault – for example because they tried to cross a road in an unsafe area or against the lights, they may still be entitled to compensation from the driver of a vehicle that hit them. It’s vital that if you are caught up in an accident that you or your family investigate all venues of fault because your memory or perception of why the accident happened may not be accurate.
Motorways and dual carriageways
These road types are generally considered safer as the traffic is divided into lanes which travel all in the same direction. However, they also encourage greater speed and the skills required to drive safely are different that those on a normal road. It is very possible that the higher speed and multiple vehicle pileups that are characteristic of a motorway will delver higher compensation for a person who is injured.
Steps to follow after a road traffic accident
1. Get relevant details of all parties involved
In all traffic accident situations you must ensure that you collect all possible information about the people involved, the time and road conditions and the contact details for any witnesses.
The most important information to collect includes:
Vehicle Registration number
It is vital that you take the vehicle registration number of all vehicles involved in the accident.
Why is this relevant?
You cannot presume that the other vehicles will report the accident. You must gather all the information for yourself, even if the other driver seems willing to report the crash. They may change their mind after they leave the scene. The vehicle registration is the easiest way for your insurance company to track them down.
Driver Name and address
You should also take the full name, address and driving license details (if possible) from the drivers of each of the vehicles involved.
Why is this relevant?
For insurance and identity reasons you will need these details to report the accident to your own insurance company as well as the police, if they haven’t been involved at the roadside.
Insurance policy details
If you have a camera on your phone then take a photo of the other vehicles insurance disc. If not then write down the details of who their insurer is and their insurance numbers.
Why is this relevant?
You will need this information to make a claim against their insurance company. It is not safe to presume that they will follow through with this information. It is standard practice for drivers to record each others insurance details at the scene of the accident.
2. Wait for Gardai to attend the scene
If the Gardai attend the scene of the accident, either by their own volition or because you call them, they should take the details of the accident, the particulars of all people involved – drivers and passengers – as well as the details of any witnesses to the accident. They will write a report based on the accident that you will receive a copy of. This can be used to allow the insurance companies involved to process any claims taken as a result of the accident.
What happens if the Gardai do not show up?
The Gardai will not appear at all accidents, even if requested. Their presence is usually linked to how bad an accident it is, whether the road is blocked by the vehicles involved or generally linked to their availability. If the Gardai do not arrive at the scene of the crash it is very important that you report the accident to them at your nearest garda station. You will need the contact details and the insurance details of all people involved in the crash – drivers, passengers and witnesses. Do not presume that the other drivers involved will report the accident, even if they say that they will. It’s very important that you take the initiative to report it yourself.
3. Get contact info for all witnesses
You should endeavor to get the contact details of all witnesses to the accident. This could be pedestrians, other drivers or passengers in your vehicle. They will be crucial in providing background support to any claim you might need to take.
4. Do not admit fault for the accident?
At the scene of an accident it is very common for people to admit liability or to claim that they were at fault. This rush to take responsibility should be avoided as much as possible. Even if you believe it was your fault, there may well be mitigating factors that you are unaware of. Also, the stress and anxiety caused by the accident can easily cloud your judgment making you not the best witness to your own experience. Any culpability that you wish to express should only be done after a period of reflection and when you have had sufficient time to relax and take stock of what has happened.
What are the repercussions?
Claiming responsibility at the scene can often hamper a full investigation of the facts, which may reveal issues that you are unaware of. You may feel that you pulled out into traffic too quickly but you may not be aware that the other driver made an illegal turn immediately before this, for example, putting you in danger.
5. Document the scene
Things to do at the scene of the accident:
- Take pictures
It can be very helpful to an insurance claim if you have photographs of the vehicles involved in the accident. Take these pictures of the car from as many different angles as possible. This will help an insurance assessor understand exactly how the accident happened.
- Take notes
Taking notes will allow you to recall facts about the accident later. They are much more reliable than relaying on your memory alone. Take down the names of the people involved, the time of day, the date, the direction each vehicle was travelling, the other driver’s insurance details and anything else that seems relevant.
6. What happens if you get injured in the accident
If you are injure din an accident you should seek medical attention immediately. Do no wait to see if it gets any worse – have all injuries assessed as soon as possible, even minor ones. They could develop into much more serious injuries over time or be masking deeper injuries that you are not yet aware of.
7. Meet with a Solicitor
Make an appointment to meet with a personal injuries solicitor in Longford as soon as possible after the accident and take their advice as to what you should do next from a legal perspective.
Making a claim
Prepare relevant info for the solicitor
Your solicitor will need the following information to process a claim. You can speed things up by having this ready for your first meeting:
- The date the accident happened
- The precise location of the accident
- Details of the other drivers or people involved.
- Details of any emergency (police/medical) personnel that arrived at the scene.
- A well structured list of what exactly happened.
- Details of any injuries suffered.
- Photographs from the scene
- The contact details of any witness.
- Details of any medical professionals that helped you after you left the scene – such as your GP. Your solicitor will request your medical records if you have suffered an injury.
Injuries Board application
Your solicitor will use this information to process your claim. There are two general avenues of pursuit:
- The other driver will accept responsibility and their insurance company will pay compensation.
- The other driver will deny responsibility and your solicitor will then follow the correct legal route to prove who is culpable.
Insurance claims come under a range of headings:
- General damages
These are damages such as pain and suffering or physical and emotional injuries incurred as a result of the accident.
- Special damages
These are costs that were created to you because of the accident – this can include loss of earnings, medical bills and travel costs.
- Material damages
These are costs for damages, for example, to your vehicle or other material costs such as to luggage you were carrying which was damaged or destroyed in the accident.
The most common types of claims include:
- Rear-end Collision Claims
- Hit and Run Claims
- Roundabout Accident Claims
- Passenger Injury Claims
- Uninsured Driver Claims
- Side Impact Collision Claims
- Minor Impact Road Traffic Accident Claims
- Head On Collision Claims
If you are concerned about an accident you have been involved in click here to contact an independent advisor.