If you have suffered an injury whilst driving a car, or as a passenger in a car, you may be liable to make a claim against the person responsible for your injury. On this page, you will find advice on how to instigate a car accident claim.
Frequently asked questions
If you have a specific question about what you should do following a car accident, you may find our video FAQ guides useful. Take a look at these videos here.
Bringing a car accident compensation case
Of the various types of traffic accidents occurring on our roads, car accidents tend to be most common by virtue of the sheer volume of cars on the road. Even within this category, there are many different categories of accidents and ways in which these accidents can arise.
If you are the driver of a car involved in an accident, obviously the accident has to be somebody else’s fault before you may have any claim in negligence. The fact that you were injured in a car accident in and of itself doesn’t entitle you to be compensated.
If you’re a passenger in a car being driven by someone else, then, generally speaking, someone else is almost certainly likely to be responsible for the accident. If it’s a one-car collision, a passenger’s first port of call will be the person responsible for the vehicle that they were in. If there are two vehicles involved in the accident, then the passenger will have to consider pursuing both the driver, and possibly the owner, of the vehicle that the passenger was in and the driver and owner of the other vehicle.
Safety belts are a serious consideration and anyone travelling in a vehicle will be expected to be wearing a seat belt for their own protection. Not wearing a safety belt does not necessarily prevent you from taking a claim but it does mean that you will be liable to a claim for contributory negligence, i.e. for having been negligent yourself by not doing something that you should have done and which contributed to the severity of your injuries as a result. While there is no fixed figure, a finding of contributory negligence for failing to wear a seat belt can lead to a reduction in award in the region of 30%.
Material/Property Damage Claims
In terms of the material damage element to the vehicle itself together with any claim for loss of transport etc. this is usually going to be dealt with initially at an early stage and you’ll generally find that the property damage element is taken care of directly by the insurance company of the driver responsible for the accident.
While there is no legal obligation to notify An Garda Siochana of an accident if the gardaí attend at the scene, if any party involved in the accident has suffered personal injury then the gardaí will be obliged to breathalyse all of the drivers involved and obviously if anybody has consumed alcohol or any other kind of intoxicant that would have an impact on potential liability. Apart from that, there’s no obligation to notify the gardaí if both parties are satisfied that it is not necessary and the parties agree to exchange details.
A very important point to remember is that it is an offence to leave the scene of an accident without exchanging necessary contact and insurance details and therefore you should ensure that you do not leave the scene without the consent of the other party. While you are not obliged to notify An Garda Siochana, if there is a dispute about who is to blame, it’s always wise to do so because they will come out, they will take measurements, they will take statements and the evidence recorded by the gardaí at the scene may be pivotal in determining liability.
Should I notify my insurance company after a car accident, even if I am not to blame?
Even in the event that it is clear you are not to blame for the accident, it’s generally prudent to contact your own insurance company and make them aware of the incident as they may wish to carry out investigations. For instance, if a third party claimed afterwards that they were somehow injured as a passenger in the other person’s vehicle, and claims that you were to blame for this, you want to make sure that your insurance company doesn’t have any basis for saying that they have no obligation to indemnify you for a failure to notify them of the circumstances.
What about offers of assistance or payment and so on by the third party insurance company?
Vehicle replacement and repair is always done at a relatively early stage before you actually get to the point where you can lodge an application for assessment of damages for your injuries. So there’s no difficulty whatsoever with negotiating on the material damage to the vehicle side of things and dealing with the personal injuries claim later on. You’ll generally find that they’ll make an offer and it is a matter for negotiation in arriving at what is acceptable to you by reference to the actual value of the damage suffered.
How long do I have to bring a car accident claim?
The rule of thumb is that you should have written to the other side through your solicitor within two months of the date of the accident notifying them that you’ve been injured and that you will probably be making a claim.
About McCarthy + Co
With more than 30 years of experience in dealing with personal injury claims, McCarthy + Co. has expertise in a wide variety of fields including road traffic and car accident claims. We are a family-run business, who pride ourselves on offering honest, impartial and helpful advice.
Our offices are based in Dublin and Cork but we work with clients throughout Ireland in locations ranging from Galway to Waterford. You can count on us for legal advice, guidance and assistance on any form of personal injury.
Get expert advice on instigating a car accident compensation claim today, by contacting our highly experienced solicitors. Call us on 1800 390 555 and an experienced member of staff will discuss your situation and potential next steps. You can also email on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
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