Personal Injury Law in Ireland
If an accident happens:
- Help or get help for injured people.
- Warn motorists (use flares, hazard lights).
- Call 911 to contact the Gardai and ambulance if an injury or death occurs.
- Write down information about the other driver and car, witnesses, passengers, accident location and more.
- Take photographs of the vehicles at the scene ( you should always carry a camera [cheap camera is ok] in the boot of the car.
- Cooperate fully with the Gardai, but DO NOT admit liability
- Speak with your lawyer before accepting as soon as possible.
After an accident:
- Call or see your physician if you have any health concerns.
- Report the accident to your insurance company.
- Contact us to make a claim
- Contact us if you are sued.
What should I do if I have an accident?
1. If I have an auto accident, do I have to stop?
Yes. The law says you must stop—whether the accident involves a pedestrian, a moving car, a parked car or someone's property. If you drive away, you can be charged with hit and run even if the accident was not your fault.
You must also exchange information with the other driver—your name and address, the license number of the car you are driving, the name and address of the car's owner, the name and address of your insurance company and your insurance policy number.
Hit-and-run penalties are severe. Depending on the damage or injuries, you may be fined, sent to jail or both. You also could lose your driver's license.
If you hit a parked car or other property, try to find the owner or driver. If you cannot, you should only drive away after you leave behind, in a conspicuous place, your name, address and telephone number and an explanation of the accident, and the name and address of your car's owner (if other than yourself).
You also must notify the local Gardai either by telephone or in person.
You must call the Gardai if the accident caused a death or injury. A Garda who comes to the scene of the accident will conduct an investigation. If a Garda doesn't show up, you must make a written report as soon as possible.
2. What should I do if someone is injured?
You should give reasonable assistance to anyone who is injured. For example, you may need to call an ambulance, take the injured person to a doctor or hospital, or give first aid— only if you know how. Whatever you do, DO NOT EXACERBATE the injuries.
If you are not trained in the appropriate first aid procedures, do not move someone who is badly hurt; you might make the injury worse. However, you should move someone who is in imminent danger of being hurt worse or killed (for example, in a car fire).
To help prevent additional collisions, try to warn other motorists that an accident has occurred. Placing flares on the road (only if there are no flammable fluids or items nearby), turning on your car's hazard lights and lifting the bonnet are usually good ways to warn others on the road. Arrange to get help for anyone who is injured, and try not to panic.
3. How can I get help?
As soon as you can get to a telephone, call 911. Explain the situation and give the exact location of the accident, so that help can arrive quickly. Be sure to mention whether you need an ambulance, a fire engine and/or the Gardai.
Remain on the telephone until the operator tells you it is okay to hang up. Or, flag down a passing car and ask the driver to go for help. If you don't have a mobile phone, the driver may have one and can make an emergency call on the spot.
4. What information should I gather at the accident scene?
Be sure to get as much correct and complete information as you can at the scene of the accident.
You and the other driver should exchange information. you should write down:
- The other driver's name, address, date of birth, telephone number, and insurance company.
- The other car's make, year, model, and registration number.
- The names, addresses, telephone numbers and insurance companies of the other car's legal and registered owners—if the driver does not own the car.
- The names, addresses, dates of birth and telephone numbers of any passengers in the other car.
- The names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. Ask them to stay to talk to the Gardai. If they insist on leaving, ask them to tell you what they saw and write everything down there and then.
- Try to identify people at the accident scene, even if they will not give their names. For example, if someone who saw the accident drives off, take down his or her registration number. The Gardai can identify that person later.
- The name and Garda station address of the Garda who comes to the accident scene.
- A simple diagram of the accident. Draw the positions of both cars before, during and after the accident.
- If there are skid marks on the road, pace them off. Draw them on the diagram, noting the distance they cover. Mark the positions of any Pedestrian Crossings, stop signs, traffic lights or streetlights. If you have a camera with you, take pictures of the scene, and of the other drivers and occupants.
- However, do not place yourself in a position of danger in order to complete an accident diagram. Be aware of traffic conditions and skip any measurements that could place you in a position of harm.
Make notes, too, on weather and road conditions.
- If the accident happened after dark, note whether the streetlights were on. Estimate your speed and that of the other vehicle. Be sure to record the exact time, date and place the accident happened.
5. If I think the accident was my fault, should I say so?
NO, NO, and, again, NO! Do not volunteer any information about who was to blame for the accident. You may think you are in the wrong and then learn that the other driver is as much or more to blame than you are. You should first talk your lawyer. Anything you say to the Gardai or the other driver can be used against you later.
Do not agree to pay for damages or sign any paper until you check with your lawyer.
However, be sure to cooperate with the Garda investigating the case. But, stick to the facts.
6. What if I am charged with an offense?
Say nothing and talk with your lawyer.
If you plead guilty, you may hurt your chances of collecting damages from the other driver later. Or, you may help the other driver to collect damages from you. Or, you could be fined, or lose your license or, in a worst case scenario, go to jail.
- Drunk driving. Driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher is illegal, and the penalties for drunk driving are severe.
- Seat belts/child passenger restraints. You can be pulled over and be fined if you or your passengers are not wearing seat belts.
7. Do I need car insurance?
Yes, the law requires that every driver and vehicle owner have insurance. .
If you have an accident and can't show proof of insurance, you may lose your driver's license and be criminally prosecuted. Also, you jeopardize yourself and your family because you may have to personally pay for injuries to others.
8. Should I get a physical checkup after the accident?
A checkup may be a good idea for both you and your passengers if any of you have concerns about your health.
You could be injured and not know it right away. You may wish to call your doctor or another health care provider for advice.
Also, if you are making a claim later, the insurance company will look to see how soon after the accident your sought medical attention. The longer the delay, the more likely it is that the insurance company will claim that you did not suffer damages as a result of the accident.
9. What if someone sues me?
Contact your lawyer right away.
10. What if I want to make a claim for my injuries?
Contact your lawyer immediately.
If you plan to sue, do not delay. There are time limits for filing various types of claims—so act quickly or you may lose your right to compensation.
11. How can I find a lawyer to represent me?
If you do not know a lawyer, ask someone whose judgment you can trust—a friend, associate or employer, for example.
If you can't get a referral, make sure the lawyer you retain is experienced in accident matters and knows the process of dealing with insurance companies and the PIAB.
We at the offices of Damian Nolan & Co. (incorporating William A. James & Company), Solicitors, have a wealth of experience which can be put at your disposal.
The goal of our firm is to provide honest, courteous and diligent representation while striving to keep your legal costs down and making the legal process as easy as possible on you.
Call us for a no-obligation consultation
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The solicitors at Damian Nolan & Co.,
Solicitors (incorporating William A.
James & Co.)
have more than 40 years of combined experience
in the following areas of law:
Residential conveyancing, commercial conveyancing, criminal law, trial law, drink driving representation, family law, divorce, separations, child custody matters, personal injury*, business law, wills and probate, civil litigation*, employment law, defamation, civil litigation*, and much more.