Figures from the Injuries Board Ireland clearly show how that the majority of claims for personal injuries in Ireland are made for car accidents: more than seventy-five percent of the claims filed with the organization relate to traffic accidents. This equates to around twenty claims for car accident compensation made in Ireland every day.
With limited public transport that is largely restricted to cities, it is not surprising to consider how widespread car ownership, elevating the prevalence of car accidents in Ireland. It is best to seek legal advice as soon as possible after the accident has occurred to maximize your chance of receiving compensation.
Steps to Take After a Traffic Accident
The first priority is always health and safety: ensuring that anyone injured in the accident receives prompt medical attention is more important than anything else in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. Even if the injuries do not warrant an ambulance, it is still highly advisable to visit an accident and emergency department or other medical center for an examination.
This serves a dual purpose: it both mitigates any lasting damage and, as such, helps to prevent chronic illnesses, but it also increases the likelihood of recovering compensation. If there is a large gap between the date of the accident and the date on which you sought medical attention, this could cause a huge decrease in the amount of compensation you can receive. It could be contested that the injuries were caused by an intervening event, or that the damages that occurred would not have come about had immediate medical attention been sought.
It is also important to report any accidents to the Gardaí, particularly if it resulted in an injury. If the Gardaí have been called shortly after the accident, and no one was injured, they may choose not to attend the scene of the accident. In this case, it is still advisable to go to the Garda Station with details of the accident, including names and insurance details of all parties involved.
However, it is still essential to call the Gardaí, even if no one is injured, as this can then be used by the solicitor to support your claim.
In the event of injury, it is a requirement that the Gardaí attend the scene. There, they will collect evidence such as statements from eyewitnesses, sketches etc.. The Gardaí will then decide whether or not the case will be referred to the DPP for prosecution.
Eligibility for Car Accident Compensation
If you were not at fault for your accident, and it can be proven that another driver was, you should be able to claim car accident compensation. They may be liable through lack of attention, carelessness or negligence. Additionally, if your car accident was caused by unsafe road conditions through lack of maintenance, you may be able to claim compensation.
Pedestrians, cyclists and car passengers may also be able to claim compensation for a driver’s lack of care: these cases are more complicated and will be dealt with elsewhere.
Recovering Compensation from an Unknown Driver
Any claims for car accident compensation that involve a driver that fled the scene should be made against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI). This organisation was set up by motor insurance companies to allow those injured by an unknown or uninsured driver to recover compensation.
However, the Gardaí should be consulted before such a claim is made: they may be able to access CCTV footage or have other methods of tracking down the anonymous driver. The MIBI will likely outright refute any claims made without proof that an effort has been made to track the negligent driver.
Claiming Against the Council
Many car accidents have no one driver to whom all fault can be attributed: sometimes, the accident is caused by unsafe road conditions. In the majority of these cases, liability can be attributed to the local council, though there are instances in which utilities companies or private land owners are at fault.
Local councils have a “duty of care” towards its residents, meaning that they have to ensure that road conditions are safe. However, this is not absolute: if a road hazard suddenly appears, and then an accident occurs, it is likely that the council could not have been expected to correct the hazard if the time period was sufficiently short.
The Role of Insurance Companies
Often, claims for car accident injuries in Ireland will not be resolved by the Injuries Board (though it is still recommended that an application be made). Instead, they are brought to resolution through negotiations between your solicitor and the insurers of the negligent party.
This is often the quickest way of securing compensation, and as such is recommended by many solicitors. Yet the insurance companies will try to take advantage of the victim’s vulnerability, and will often make an offer for compensation that is not adequate for the injuries sustained. If this offer is accepted, and does prove to be inadequate, you cannot ask for more. As such, it is vital that any settlements are looked over by an experienced solicitor before they are approved.
However, if negotiations fail, the Injuries Board may grant you authorisation to pursue your claim through the courts.
There are many factors that will impact how much compensation a victim can expect to receive: health status before the cash, age and even sex can all play factors, as well as anything that could constitute contributory negligence. The after-effects will also help determine a settlement: you may be entitled to more if it can be shown that the injuries have reduced your quality of life.
You may also be able to claim “special damages”, which compensate for costs incurred as a direct result of the car accident. Examples of special damages would include medical costs, travel expenses, home remodeling costs and loss of earnings.
Claims for car accident compensation are the most common forms of personal injuries claims made in Ireland. Though they often involve a negligent driver, the victim may also receive compensation for accidents that occurred because of poor road conditions. After seeking medical attention, it is important that those involved in car accidents contact the Gardaí to register the details of the accident, as well as contacting a personal injuries solicitor.