Admitting Fault in a Car Accident: What Happens Next? | HOMS Assist

Written by
Clíodhna Finnin on
06 July 2023

With almost 2.5 million cars on the road in Ireland, it’s likely that many of us will be involved in a car accident at some stage in our lives. Whether a minor ‘fender bender’ or a more serious collision, car accidents are often upsetting events. Sometimes they can come as such a shock that we’re unable to think straight, so it’s a good idea to be prepared in advance.

At HOMS Assist, we deal with hundreds of accidents every year, so we have a team of in-house experts on hand to deal with your queries. If you’re wondering what to do after a minor car accident, they’ve put together a detailed guide that’ll take you through the key steps. These include stopping the vehicle; checking on any injured party; calling a police officer or ambulance; and contacting your insurance company. These are all fairly straightforward, but what about admitting fault in a car accident?

This is one of the most common questions our team is asked by clients, so we’ve put together a simple outline of what happens if you admit fault in a car accident.

What Is Admitted Liability in a Car Accident?

This is the legal term for admitting that you were at fault at the scene of the accident. You might do this verbally, by explaining to the other driver or witnesses that you caused or contributed to the accident. You could find yourself having a conversation in which you feel forced to accept responsibility. You might even, as is often the knee-jerk reaction, apologise. 

This all amounts to an admission of liability which might lead to serious legal, insurance and financial ramifications later. 

If I Am to Blame, Should I Admit It at the Scene?

Even if you feel that it’s the right thing to do, you shouldn’t immediately accept responsibility for car accidents. There is no legal obligation to admit fault and nobody should be pressured to do so at the scene. It’s better to give yourself some time for any shock to subside and let a police officer, insurance representative or qualified solicitor gather all the evidence first. It’s only then that you can decide the most appropriate course of action. 

Why Should You Not Admit Fault in a Car Accident?

Admitting fault in a car accident is something you want to avoid for a number of different reasons. These include:

  • You may be in shock or injured, even if you feel fine initially. This could impair your ability to recall the details of the accident accurately, so the information you give might be incorrect. 
  • You may not be aware of key details. Even trained investigators need time to analyse the scene of an accident, and it’s common for first impressions to be proven wrong at a later date.
  • There could be a condition in your insurance policy that you must not make any admission of liability and that to do so would invalidate your insurance. 
  • In the case of minor car accidents, it might feel natural to just shake hands and move on, but you should still make sure you have not admitted liability for the car accident as it’s not unknown for injuries to develop over time. This can lead to a road traffic accident claim or a personal injury case arising months or even years from the date of the accident.

What Happens if You Admit Fault in a Car Accident?

If you have admitted liability after a car accident, all is not lost. You should not engage any further with the other driver or witnesses (except to give the information you’re legally obliged to share) and instead contact a reputable legal firm that will be able to advise you on your next steps. 

What Happens With Your Car Insurance if You Admit Liability?

In terms of car insurance, admitting fault is not advised either — your provider will want to discuss everything with you prior to deciding a course of action, even in the case of minor car accidents. Admitting liability may even invalidate the policy for some insurance companies, leaving you exposed to significant costs.

Things to Consider if You Wish to Avoid Admitting Fault in a Car Accident

In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say something we might regret later. If you want to avoid admitting fault in a car accident, you should stick to gathering information only. The type of details you could collect include:

  • The date of the accident, as well as the precise time
  • The position of your vehicle and any other vehicle involved
  • The nature of any injuries or damage (including photographs if appropriate)
  • The names, addresses and phone numbers of anyone involved
  • The names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses available
  • The motor insurance company names and numbers of anyone involved
  • The driver's licence numbers of anyone involved
  • All vehicles’ registration numbers, makes, models, and colours 

Under Irish law, you’re obliged to give certain key information — including your name, address and motor insurance details — to a member of An Garda Síochána. If there is no Garda available, you must give these details to the injured person (where someone has been hurt) or a person asking on their behalf; or the owner whose property has been damaged, or someone asking on their behalf.

When you’re relaying this information, you should stick to the facts; do not express opinions, do not speculate on causes and most importantly, do not admit liability. 

What Happens in a Car Accident When No One Admits Fault?

In the situation of a car accident where no one admits fault, it will fall to the insurance companies and / or legal representatives to pursue a course of action. 

They may negotiate a settlement or bring the case to court, to allow the judicial system to decide. This is a very common practice that happens every day in Ireland, and if you have a good solicitor, you won’t need to worry about the day-to-day steps involved — they will handle most of it for you.

The Importance of Getting Legal Advice

Car accidents are the type of contentious business a solicitor is best qualified to handle. They will have seen every type of circumstance, from fatal accidents to minor car damage. They know how to deal with the fall-out in the most effective way, minimising any stress and discomfort to you. If you’ve been hurt, they can also help you lodge a personal injury claim, ensuring you get the care and support you need.

If you’re wondering how to claim for injury after a car accident, the first step is to contact a recognised personal injury law firm. They will analyse the circumstances of your accident and advise you on your options. They can file paperwork on your behalf, find the experts you need and deal with all the correspondence involved. A solicitor may not calculate the exact compensation you may be entitled to, but they can talk you through similar cases and their awards and fees or other charges.

The Statute of Limitations imposes a strict time limit in which personal injury cases must be commenced. The general rule is that the claims process must begin and proceedings must be issued within two years, less a day, of the date of the negligent act. The clock stops when the matter is lodged with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, as they recognise the need to take time to gather medical reports and calculate fees, expenses and costs.

How HOMS Assist Can Help

HOMS Assist has a dedicated team to support clients who have been involved in car accidents. Our vehicle damage unit is on hand to help arrange car hire, have vehicles inspected by an expert engineer and negotiate a settlement with an insurance adjuster. Our personal injuries department is exceptionally experienced with making and managing claims — they take care of the hard work while clients get on with their recovery. 

If you or one of your loved ones has been involved in a car accident, call us today on 1800 207 207 or contact us online. With over 50 years of experience serving clients all over Ireland, we’re here to provide expert advice when you need it most.