Road Traffic Accident Claims

Road Traffic Accident Claims

Road traffic accidents are prevalent across the country: recent statistics from the Irish Injuries Board revealed that over seventy-five percent of claims submitted to them for assessment involved injuries that were the result of car accidents.

There are many reasons why this may be the case: the rate of car ownership in Ireland is constantly increasing, and with limited public transport, most people will travel in a car at least once a day.  In light of this, car accidents are very common, with the Injuries Board receiving nearly twenty applications for car accident claims every day.

If you were involved in a road traffic accident it is advisable that you contact an experienced personal injuries solicitor as soon as possible to help better your chances at receiving a fair and appropriate settlement.

To discuss your accident in confidence please call us now on freephone 1800-844 306. We specialise in car accident claims so our solicitors are all experts in this area.

Dealing with the Immediate Aftermath

Being the victim of a car accident is immensely stressful: besides any personal injuries, your car may have been damaged and in need of repair and you will also have to contact your insurance company. Below, we detail some of the basic steps that aim to guide you through this period.

First and foremost, your health is the highest priority. If you are in a car accident, you should go straight to the Accident and Emergency department of your nearest hospital; if you cannot drive yourself, you should call an ambulance before even contacting the Gardaí. Even if you feel fine, your injuries may not immediately present themselves. This could lead to further health complications once the injuries are discovered – and could affect your ability to claim compensation.

For example, if you do not seek immediate medical attention, and lack a good reason for doing so, you may be deemed as partially negligent for any resulting injuries. This could reduce the amount of compensation to which you are entitled. Additionally, the defence may claim that it cannot be shown that the car accident caused the injury, arguing that another accident could have occurred in the intervening period.

garda-car-accident-claimOnce your health has been cared for, you should then report the accident to the Gardaí. This should be done as soon as possible after the accident, facilitating the collection of evidence (ranging from photographs to witness statements). Depending on the severity of the crash and the apparent injuries, the Gardaí may chose not to send any officers to the scene. However, the effort may not be wasted, as the report will still have been noted and can be used later in the case.

Should the Gardaí chose not to attend the scene, it is still advisable that you go to the nearest Garda station to make a report. You should bring details of those involved, including registration numbers and insurance details, and other details such as exact location and time. You should also request a copy of the report to then present to your solicitor.

Road Traffic Accident Compensation

Anyone who was involved in a car accident for which they were not at fault is able to make a claim for compensation in Ireland. This can be made against another private user of the road or the authority responsible for the maintenance of the road, should it be the case that dangerous road conditions caused the accident.

Though the Injuries Board of Ireland will not always resolve claims for compensation, it is still advisable that an application for assessment is submitted with them. Negotiations between your solicitor and the insurance company representing the negligent driver will often lead to a settlement, and as this is often the quickest way to secure a settlement, it may be preferable to pursue this method.

Should negotiations break down between the parties, you must then obtain “Authorisation” from the Injuries Board before you can seek compensation through the courts. This will often be necessary if liability is contested or a fair settlement cannot be agreed upon.

Special Cases in Claiming Compensation

It is sometimes the case that the negligent driver will have fled the scene without exchanging details. In this instance, the claim is made against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI). This organisation was set up by insurance companies selling motor insurance to allow those injured by an anonymous driver to claim compensation. Claims against uninsured drivers are also made against MIBI.

Before claims against uninsured drivers can be filed with MIBI, the accident should be reported to the Gardaí such that they can attempt to track down the negligent driver using CCTV cameras etc.. If every effort has not been made to find the driver, the MIBI may refuse to accept the claim for compensation.

However, it is not always possible to make a claim for compensation against a private road user. Some accidents are caused by unsafe road conditions, and this may be the fault of private homeowners, utility companies or local councils.

Even so, it may not always be possible to claim compensation. A local council does not have an absolute “duty of care” towards its resident: if a road hazard is sudden or very recent, the council may not “reasonably” be expected to clear the hazard before you encountered it.

Estimating the Value of Claims

There are many factors that will contribute to the value of a claim: age, health before the accident, nature of injuries and road conditions could all be implicated. The impact the injuries have on your quality of life will be accounted for under “general damages” in a compensation settlement.

Additionally, if you incurred any costs through because of medical expenses, damage to your property or financial loss, you may be able to claim “special damages”. This compensation is there to help remodel your home, should it be necessary, or to cover the costs of alternate travel arrangements.

The Role of Insurance Companies

Insurance companies do not have your best interest at heart: it is very likely that the company representing the negligent driver will approach you soon after the accident occurred with an offer for a compensation settlement. Though it may be tempting, it is rarely advisable that you accept this early settlement, particularly without having it assessed by a solicitor. It is unlikely to be a just settlement that accounts for all of the damage you sustained – the company wants to save money by approaching you at a vulnerable time.

If you chose to accept the offer, and then discover that it is inadequate and cannot cover the full costs of your care, you cannot return to the company and request more. The decision is final.

Car Accident Injuries Claims – A Summary

Car accidents are extremely stressful events, taking physical, psychological and financial tolls on those involved. After attending to your own safety, it is also advisable that you report your accident to the Gardaí and take photographs of the scene should they chose not to attend.

It is strongly advised that, as soon as possible, you contact a solicitor experienced in personal injuries claims. Not only can he or she help you through the maze of procedures and documentations, a solicitor can also help you ensure a fair and appropriate settlement of compensation for your suffering.

Call us now to discuss your car accident in confidence.

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