Information Sheet on Accident with another vehicle
Ok, so it’s happened. Your pride and joy lies twisted and damaged on the ground nearby and some strangers are asking you if you’re OK. If you’re lucky, you’re conscious and have no broken bones. But you’re dazed, probably a little shocked and clear thinking doesn’t come easy.
What should you do?
Call the Gardai – the first thing they’ll ask is whether anyone has been injured – if not, they may be slow to come – to them it’s a private matter. If the guards are coming – don’t move the vehicles unless absolutely necessary. If the Gardai don’t come, report the incident to the nearest Garda station, preferably on the same day. Obviously in an ideal world you’d have a camera, tape measure etc so as to show positions on the road but that’s rarely possible.
Don’t, EVER, admit responsibility if the other driver says it’s your fault (even if it’s true!). The immediate aftermath of an accident is not the time to sort out who was responsible for what (of course if the other vehicle driver says it was all their fault, don’t disagree and try get it from them in writing or at least to say it in the presence of a witness). You cannot say much in the immediate aftermath that will be useful to you in any potential legal action, but you could say something damaging.
Information you need to get on the spot
- Other vehicle’s registration number.
- Name address and phone number of driver and/or owner.
- His/her insurance details (from insurance disc on car) – if no insurance disk on car, insist on Guards coming out.
- Any witnesses? Names addresses and phone numbers.
- If a Garda comes, get his/her name, number and what station he/she operates out of.
- Check your bike – is it roadworthy? Even if it’s a bit battered most of us will prefer to drive it home rather than have to make alternative arrangements, such as AA or emergency bike recovery services – but no harm to have a recovery service number on your mobile or in your wallet.
So you’re home – what next?
Get an estimate for repairs
Maybe the recovery service will take the bike to your repair shop of choice if you can’t drive it there yourself. Get an estimate for full repairs and replacement of any damaged panels’ etc – you’re entitled to have your bike restored to full glory, not just patched up. Keep the receipt if charged for same. Even after a bike’s been repaired, you’re entitled to claim for depreciation, generally at 10% of the damage value (cost of repairs). If the bike is beyond repair, the repair shop will need to give you both a pre-accident value and a salvage value. You have a duty to minimise your losses i.e. to get the best possible price for the damaged bike. You have to give the other party’s insurers an opportunity to inspect the damaged bike within a reasonable period, say 2/3 weeks. If the repairs have been carried out in the meantime, the workshop should be asked to retain the damaged parts for inspection.
Visit your GP
Get yourself checked over – you may feel fine on the day but the following morning feel like you’re emerging from the bottom of a collapsed scrum for Ireland. Keep the receipt.
Call your insurance company
Quote your policy number, tell them you’ve had an accident and ask them to send out a claim form.
Write an account
Sit down and write (for your own benefit) a full account of the accident while it’s fresh in your memory. Be honest – many accidents involve some element of contributory negligence – it won’t invalidate any claim you may have, but might reduce the potential compensation award.
What happens next ?
If the other party accepted responsibility, and you’re not injured, then send them your repair quote (including, if necessary, replacement helmet, leathers and gloves etc.) and ask for a bank draft within seven days. If you don’t get it – go to a solicitor. He or she should be able from an initial consultation to tell you whether you’ve got a case or not. He’ll write to the other party and their insurance company and start your claim. If responsibility for the accident (liability) is not in dispute the matter may be settled quite quickly. If liability is in dispute, then it may end up in court. If you’ve been injured, it may not be possible to settle your claim till a doctor says your injuries have healed fully.
How do you get back on two wheels in the meantime? Well, you can take a loan to repair or replace your bike and include both the loan and the interest on the loan in your claim. Bike hire is not an option here in the Republic at present, but you could hire a car and claim the car hire instead. Or you could use taxis and claim the receipts. If you have comprehensive insurance, you can claim on that and get your solicitor to claim for this amount on behalf of your insurance company from the other party.
Unfortunately, the more serious your accident, the longer it’s likely to take to sort out. You may end up claiming for loss of earnings and the like if you’re off work for any length of time. If you’re injured, then you will be claiming for two types of damages, special and general. Special damages are for items which can be quantified such as repairs and loss of earnings. General damages are for items such as distress, trauma, pain and suffering and how your future quality of life may be affected by your injuries.
Solicitor’s costs are a source of worry to many people – it’s important to realise that there are two types of costs involved in any legal action, namely party/party costs and solicitor/client costs. Party/party costs are the costs paid to the winner’s solicitor by the loser’s insurance company. If blame for an accident is apportioned, eg. 80/20 in your favour, then your solicitor will only get 80% of these costs and you will have to pay your solicitor the remaining 20% out of your compensation (which itself is only 80% of the damages also). Totally separate from these party/party costs are the solicitor/client costs which are payable by you to your solicitor whether you win, lose or draw. These are costs for matters that the defendant’s insurance company will not cover, such as barrister’s opinions.
There’s a lot of talk about “no foal no fee” solicitors who won’t charge you a fee unless you succeed. However as with any other solicitor, they won’t take your case unless they believe you have a reasonable chance of succeeding to some extent. And even if you lose, you’ll still have to pay them outlays such as stamp duty on court documents and doctor’s fees for medical reports. In fact most solicitors will look for that up front as the case progresses.
Since 2004 all personal injuries cases where liability is not at issue have to be handled by the Injuries Board (www.injuriesboard.ie). You can go to them directly or use a solicitor to assist you if you wish depending on circumstances. If responsibility for the accident is in dispute then the case may have to be sorted through the Courts depending on the attitude of the insurance companies.
With thanks to T P Robinson Solicitors www.tprobinson.com
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