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When: Feb 20, 12
Who: Staff

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a road traffic accident the first priority is the safety of all the people involved. If necessary, an ambulance should be called immediately. If in doubt, always seek medical advice for anyone who needs it, including yourself, as your health is the number one priority. It’s better to be safe than sorry as shock and adrenaline can often conceal what later develops into significant injuries.

Important information:-
A road traffic accident is treated in law exactly the same way as any other accident. Basically, this means that the injured party must prove that the accident was caused either wholly or in part by someone or something else. As a result, it is very important to obtain some vital information at the accident scene, once everyone requiring immediate medical attention has been attended to, namely:-

• The registration number of each of the other vehicles involved; – this is the single most important detail as unfortunately sometimes people take insurance details in good faith from the other driver only to find out later on that the insurance disc was invalid and there was no insurance on the vehicle. The vehicle’s owner can be traced via the registration number. It is also a vital piece of information for the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) to assist them in completing their investigations if it becomes necessary for your solicitor to involve the MIBI (see below re uninsured drivers/hit and run).

• Details of each driver’s insurance policy including the name of the insurance company, the policy number and the renewal date. These details can be obtained from the insurance disc displayed on the vehicle’s windscreen;

• Names, addresses and phone numbers of each of the other drivers and also of any witnesses or any other people who came to your assistance;

• If you have a camera/camera phone take plenty photos of the vehicles from various angles and distances before they have to be moved, if at all possible.

Calling the Gardaí:-
The Gardaí should be called but often, unless there are apparent serious injuries, they will not attend the scene and will leave the matter to civil remedy i.e. for each party’s insurance company to sort out the issues. If the Gardaí tell you they won’t be attending the accident locus, make a note of the name of the Garda and the Garda Station you phoned. At the earliest opportunity and while matters are still fresh in your mind, you should attend your local Garda Station and report the accident fully and again take a note of the name of the Garda you deal with as this is important if the other driver later turns out to be uninsured.

Moving the vehicles:-
Ideally, the vehicles should not be moved until the Gardaí attend the scene and can take a sketch of the accident and note details of the location of each vehicle. However, safety is paramount and it may be that it is safer for all involved and other road users that the vehicles be moved.  If possible and you have a camera/camera phone, take as many photos as you can before you move the vehicles. Don’t necessarily be concerned with taking loads of close up photos, often photos taken a bit of a distance away are more helpful as it helps to establish where the vehicles actually ended up and may show debris on the road and skid marks, etc. depending on the quality of your camera.

Admitting liability:-
Do not admit liability for the accident, even if you believe you may have been at fault. The best practice is to just deal politely and calmly with the other driver in exchanging the abovementioned details and leave the matter of liability to a later time. It is often a condition of your insurance policy that you should not accept liability following an accident. Likewise, just because the other driver accepts liability at the scene or says sorry does not mean that you can rely on that admission as a guarantee that liability will be accepted by that person’s insurance company. Judges often pay little heed to such initial admissions or apologies as people are usually in shock immediately following an accident. Sometimes when a person has had time to think about the accident and to consider the circumstances they may change their mind about where the blame lies for the accident. This is not necessarily due to any malice on the part of that person but rather they have reconsidered the matter in the cold light of day and away from the shock and emotion which engulfed them straight after the accident.

Uninsured drivers/Hit and run:-
There is a legal obligation on all drivers in this country to have third party insurance cover at a minimum. This means that if a driver causes an accident which results in someone being injured or damage being done to someone’s property there is an insurance policy to cover the situation. However, if you are involved in a road traffic accident with a driver who subsequently turns out not to be insured for whatever reason or the driver leaves the scene of the accident in a hit and run, then your claim may be dealt with by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), subject to certain conditions.

Contacting an experienced solicitor:-
You should contact an experienced litigation solicitor as soon as possible to assist you in dealing with the fall out of the accident. As mentioned previously the law treats road traffic accident exactly the same way as any other accident which means that the injured party must prove that the accident was caused either wholly or in part by someone or something else.

At Kieran McCarthy & Co. we have vast experience of dealing with the aftermath of road traffic accidents. We know exactly what needs to be done and we will deal with all the hassle that follows your involvement in an accident such as:-
• Speaking to the Gardai, the other driver’s insurance company and witnesses;
• If necessary, arranging for an engineer to examine the locus of the accident as soon as possible to take photographs, measurements, etc to ensure the best evidence is available if it transpires that the other driver is disputing liability;
• Arranging for a motor assessor to independently examine your vehicle, if necessary;
• Writing to the other driver formally notifying him/her of your claim;
• Assisting you with the completion of the accident report form for your own insurance company;
• Advising you fully in relation to all legal issues that arise, including the Statute of Limitations (the time period within which you are entitled to take a claim); contributory negligence (where you may be found to be at some fault for the accident and the implications of this on any claim you may have) and preserving evidence that is essential for the successful outcome of your case;
• If you find yourself in the distressing situation of subsequently facing a criminal prosecution arising out of the Garda investigation of the accident we can defend the case on your behalf in Court.

If you have suffered injuries or damage to your property as a result of a road traffic accident or you are facing criminal proceedings arising from a road traffic accident you should contact us at info@kmcc.ie

About Us & Contact

Kieran McCarthy & Co. Solicitors
Floor 3B, 6 Lapps Quay, Cork.
t: 021 427 5220 | f: 021 427 5250

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