There are thousands of road traffic accidents in Ireland every year. Road traffic accidents include accidents where the driver is the injured party, but also accidents involving people riding on their bicycle, passengers in the cars or pedestrians. If the accident is not your fault, you may be entitled and you have the right to claim compensation, if you were injured in an accident or if your property was damaged.
Road traffic accident – what you should do
- Like in every accident first you should look after your safety and your health.
- You shall not admit liability at the scene of the accident regardless of the pressure that is created by other people involved in the accident, other drivers or regardless of the pressure created by the Garda officer, who is attending the scene, unless you are absolutely sure that this is a right and correct decision to do.
- If possible please try to make a note or to take the names of the other drivers and people involved in the accident, registration numbers of other cars and details of their insurance. You should obtain all this even if other driver involved in the accident is admitting liability. The absolute minimum information that will help with your future case is to have the name of the Garda Officer who is attending the scene and/or to have the registration numbers of other car or cars involved.
- If possible take photos of the locus of the accident and the vehicles involved or ask someone to do it for you. Take such photos even if the other driver admitted his responsibility. We advice same as in general insurance policy indicates not to admit liability without first consulting Your insurance and also due to fact that simply people change their mind
- Very often the pain, which is an indication that we have suffered some injuries during accident, may only appear after the adrenaline and stress levels are down. We are recommending that you visit your GP even if there are some minimal injuries in your opinion. It is worth doing even if finally due to the injuries being very minor you will decide not to pursue your case.
Road traffic accident – when to start your compensation case
We are recommending that you make a contact with your solicitor as soon as you look after your health and safety. It is important as the Civil Courts and Liability Act imposes an obligation, that you shall inform of your injuries and your intention to claim compensation in a letter, which should be sent within a month from the date of the accident. If this is not done it may have an implication for your case in the future in particular in the area of legal costs. Our office will send such a letter within one month from the date of the accident and as soon as we will receive a proper authority to act on your behalf, and we will do it even quicker after you make a contact with us in order to protect your interests.
Contrary to some people, who say or advise that you may wait with the start of your case till you recover from the injuries, we are saying that the letter notifying the other party of your intention to claim damages and indicating that you were injured in that accident shall be sent and it does not make an obligation on you to pursue your case in the future if you change your mind.
You shall also MAKE A DIFFERENCE between the date which is called the statute of limitations and which is currently for personal injuries two years (so you have two years to claim compensation from the date of the accident). You shall differentiate this date from the one month period to send a letter indicating your intention to claim compensation.
Road traffic accident – calling or notifying Garda
Garda, which is Police in most of the cases may refuse to attend the scene of an accident, if there are no serious injuries. Furthermore you should also remember that in general Garda’s job is not to establish who was at fault and who bears responsibility for the accident you were involved in. It is highly likely, that you will hear from Garda, that you should contact your solicitor, if you want to claim damages and that the fact who was responsible for this accident will be decided in your personal injury claim case. In such a case you as a person, who was injured in an accident, must prove the wrongdoing of the other driver or other person involved in the accident, whom you blame for your injuries.
We recommend that you notify to the Garda, that the accident happened even, if the Garda refused to attend the scene. If that is the case you should as soon as practicably possible attend the local Garda station and report the accident. You should also make sure, that a note was made in the report book by the Garda and take the Garda name or at least his/her badge number, so we will be able to identify the office if we need to get the proof, that the accident was reported.
Road traffic accident – recovery
Beside evident situation, where we will immediately go to the doctor, to hospital or we are taken by ambulance from the scene of the accident, in less serious injuries they may become symptomatic only after hours or even days, when the levels of stress and adrenaline caused by the accident are down.
We recommend and say that it is worth to report to your GP even very minor symptoms, which appeared following an accident in which you were involved. Even if in the future you will decide, that the injuries were finally so minor and not long lasting and that you are not taking any compensation case. That will allow to avoid a situation, if you will decide to pursue your case, that the insurance company or their solicitors will be trying to say, that the fact that you reported symptoms only days after the accident means, that the injuries were caused by some other accident or situation and not by the accident in which you were involved. It will also allow the doctors, who will be preparing reports, if they have a notification of your early symptoms to properly link all your symptoms as the consequences of particular accident.
Please also remember in case you will attend company doctors, so some medical appointments arranged by your employer, that this doctor is not to provide treatment to you. The job of the company doctor is to assess your health and assess if you are fit to work in particular employment. Therefore think twice and apply common sense, when you are using company doctor and in case of any doubts if this is about treatment or only assessment, you shall establish contact with the GP or if you have any doubts, please contact us and we will provide a proper advice.
Another important aspect – you shall not arrange specialist doctor’s appointments or diagnostics such as x-rays, MRI scan or any blood tests, or other diagnostics without referral letter from your GP. We know that in many EU countries it is possible to go directly as a private patient and make a specialist appointment or to have for example an MRI scan, but it is not a common practice in Ireland and normally you will be expected to have a referral letter before such diagnostics are taking place. That will allow, in the future, to avoid a situation where someone will say, that you were trying to self-treat or self-heal yourself without your GP’s knowledge. Such self-referrals may also affect your case. Of course it makes no difference, if it is about a real danger to your health and when the time is of an essence. However each time and whenever possible you shall consult your GP before making such scans or specialist appointments.
Also for many foreign nationals there is always a question about returning to their home country for treatment. We know what you should look for and you can read more about this here.