Car accidents can happen for a variety of reasons and in an array of different ways. If you have been involved in such an accident, you may be entitled to claim for personal injuries and/or expenses.*
In this section we look at the most common reasons for claims to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board arising from a car crash.
Types of Car Accident
A rear-end collision involves one vehicle driving into the back of the vehicle in front of it.
Who is liable?
Usually, the negligent party is the car that collides with the car in front. Cars can be stationary, at junctions or traffic lights, with multiple rear-end collisions possible when one car pushes another in a line of traffic, causing a domino effect.
If you are the victim of a rear-end collision, you can suffer serious injuries and be entitled to make a legal claim.
Common questions to establish liability:
Insurance companies often dispute liability, so here are some standard questions to assist you in determining who is liable:
1. Was the collision avoidable?
Anybody using a public road has a duty to take reasonable care for the safety of other road users. If you believe you could have done nothing more to avoid the collision, you may not be liable.
2. Was your reaction fast enough?
If you allowed yourself to be distracted or reacted slower for some other reason, this may make you liable. However, if you had to brake suddenly because of an obstacle you could not have predicted (a dog running across the road, for example), you will not be held liable. .
3. What about evidence?
Did anybody witness the incident? Dashcam footage is more reliable evidence of what happened and who was negligent.
What causes rear-end collisions?
Here are the most common reasons why rear-end collisions happen:
- The colliding driver is fatigued.
- The colliding driver is distracted by a mobile phone.
- The colliding driver is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- The driver in the rear collides with the car in front because the car is not at a safe distance when the car in front has to stop suddenly.
- The brake lights of the car in front are not working.
- The car in front changes lanes without signalling.
- The car in front breaks down and fails to turn on its hazard lights.
- Either car fails to take bad driving conditions into account.
Injuries Caused by Rear-end Collisions
Whiplash is the most common injury associated with rear-end collisions. This is because the force of the collision can cause your head to jolt forcefully away from your body, making your neck move beyond its normal range of motion and damaging ligaments, tendons, and muscles in it. You may be able to claim for the expense of rehabilitation treatment for whiplash and other injuries including:
- Brain Injury
- Spinal Injury
- Nerve Injury
Remember that passengers may also claim for injuries. In fact, they may suffer more serious injuries, due to the fact that they are less prepared for the impact of the collision.
A hit and run is a road traffic incident involving a driver who deliberately leaves the scene without providing any contact or insurance details. Drivers flee the scene for a variety of reasons, often because they don’t have valid insurance or want to avoid contact with the Gardaí.
How can you make a claim after a hit and run?
After most car accidents, the injured party’s makes a claim for damages. If the other party leaves the scene without leaving insurance details, the injured party may have to claim through the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), which was established to compensate victims of road accidents caused by uninsured or unidentified drivers.
Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland (MIBI)
The MIBI claim scheme is designed to cover personal injury claims where the vehicle at fault may not have been traced and/or insured. The scheme also covers vehicle and property damage claims, but only when a valid registration plate is identified. The MIBI will investigate your claim, so it is prudent to contact a solicitor to represent your interests if you are claiming for a hit-and-run accident.
Why do hit-and-run accidents happen?
We don’t always know why people leave the scene of an accident, but here are some we have come across:
- Driving too fast: According to the World Health Organisation, increasing your average driving speed by just 1 km/h raises the risk of a crash involving injury by 3% and the risk of a fatal crash by between 4% and 5%.
- Breaking the Rules of the Road
- Breaking a red light
- Driving while tired: The Road Safety Authority equates the effects of driver fatigue with driving under the influence of alcohol. It advises tired drivers to stop in a safe place, sip a caffeine drink, and sleep for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Driving while using a mobile phone: This has been illegal since 2014, but it is a common reason for drivers leaving the scene of an accident because they don’t want to be identified as having driven while on the phone.
- Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs: The RSA reports that drivers involved in 38% of road collisions have had alcohol in their systems.
Since 2017, Gardaí have been authorised to set up roadside checkpoints for drug testing with similar powers to mandatory alcohol testing. Drivers who have consumed drugs or alcohol may not want to be found at the scene of an accident.
What are the most common injuries sustained in hit-and-run accidents?
Road traffic accidents in which the other party leaves the scene do not fall into any single category, so the injuries you could sustain are also very varied. Here are just some of the injuries we have encountered in such claims:
- Brain injury
- Spinal injury
- Loss of Limbs
Accidents can happen at roundabouts when vehicles collide either entering or using a roundabout. You may claim for an accident at a roundabout if you can establish that the other driver was negligent or caused the accident.
How to avoid roundabout accidents: Know the rules
Roundabouts are tricky to get around if you don’t know the rules. This is what you need to know:
- Drivers already on the road have priority.
- Using the clock as guidance, approach the roundabout in the left-hand lane if you are going to take any exit from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock position
- Approach in the right-hand lane if you are leaving the roundabout between 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock.
- Follow relevant road signs
- Keep to the right and only move to the left lane until you are about to exit.
- Do not signal left until the next exit is the one you are going to take.
What kind of injuries do roundabout accidents cause?
Roundabout accidents include rear-end collisions and sideswipe incidents, so injuries can vary. Some of the injuries we commonly encounter in roundabout accident claims include:
- Neck injury
- Back injury
- Lower back injury
- Limb injury
Why do roundabout accidents happen?
- Inexperienced drivers may not know how to navigate a roundabout correctly.
- Drivers may fail to yield to oncoming traffic.
- Drivers collide with other vehicles because they enter the wrong lane.
- Drivers slow suddenly, causing the vehicle behind to rear-end them.
- Drivers can cause accidents when they cut other vehicles off when trying to exit the roundabout.
If you are a passenger in a car who has been injured in a motor traffic accident, you may have a strong case for seeking compensation. Here, we take you through some of the situations in which you may be able to claim compensation and outline the steps you should take
Rear-ending by another vehicle is the most common accident for which passengers seek compensation. Passengers can suffer whiplash or other injuries.
Negligent driving of the car in which you are a passenger is another common reason for such accidents. You may be hesitant to make a claim against a friend or family member, but, apart from their no-claims bonus, the driver will suffer no loss because the claim is paid by the insurance company.
Hazardous road conditions can also cause passenger accidents.
What to Do After a Passenger Accident
- Seek medical attention. This is important both for your health and for your claim because the claim may be contested if there is a delay between the accident and the discovery of your injury.
- Call the Gardaí. If they do not attend the scene, visit your local Garda station as soon as possible to file an accident report.
- Record the other driver’s contact, insurance, and car registration details
- Contact an experienced personal injuries solicitor, who will prepare your claim for the Personal Injuries Assessment Board.
Your Passenger Accident Claim
If you are successful in making a passenger accident claim, the amount of damages you receive will be determined by factors including your age, general health, and the severity of your injuries. Other influential factors are the effects of the injury on your normal activities and pastimes, which you can record yourself and give to your solicitor as evidence.
A class of compensation called “special damages” helps you to recover any financial losses you sustained because of your injury. These cover loss of earnings and most medical expenses.
If you discover that you have been in a road traffic accident with an uninsured driver, help is at hand. This is because you are protected by the Motor Insurer’s Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) agreement and its provisions for compensation for injuries and material damages.
The MIBI will ask you for certain details before you proceed with a claim, including your personal details and information about the accident. The most important thing you need to do is to make yourself available for interview by MIBI agents within 30 days of an applying to make a claim to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. You are entitled to have a solicitor with you at the interview.
Damage caused by an unidentified vehicle
Under the MIBI agreement, the bureau’s liability does not cover damage caused by an untraced vehicle - unless the road traffic accident in question resulted in a settlement for substantial personal injuries involving a hospital stay for at least five days.
Collisions involving side impact often happen when cars merge into other cars’ lanes or navigate junctions without yielding to oncoming cars.
Who is liable in a side-impact collision claim?
Liability in a side-impact collision claim is based on who was responsible for the accident. This can be difficult to establish, so it is important to gather as much information as possible at the time of the accident before you decide to make a claim.
Responsibility for a side-impact collision
Liability may be established if the driver was doing any of the following:
- Dangerous driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
- Breaking a red light.
- Driving while tired
- Breaking the Rules of the Road
Evidence to back your claim can include:
- Witnesses: Take contact details and a description of what they saw.
- Gardaí reports: You can report the incident and request a copy if the Gardaí did not attend the scene.
- Photographs: Record the cars as they are, as well as any relevant signs or traffic signals.
- Dashcam footage
Even minor collisions can cause significant personal injury. However, insurance companies may argue that if a car is not severely damaged, the driver is at a low risk of serious injury.
Here’s what you need to know:
Damages for injury following a minor collision
We regularly encounter “minimum impact” defences, in which the defendant’s solicitor argues that the impact was at a reduced speed and caused minimal damage to the car, making a personal injury claim invalid.
However, even a low-speed crash can cause serious injuries, depending on a range of factors. These can include:
- The victim’s weight
- The victim’s height
- The victim’s position at impact
For the best possible outcome to your claim following a minor road traffic accident, it is important to do the following as soon as possible:
- Take photos of the damage to both vehicles
- Secure a repair estimate
- Get an assessor’s report
- Get a Garda report
- Get medical attention immediately and follow medical advice
- Inform your insurer as soon as possible
It is also useful to consult an engineer with specialist knowledge of the effects of so-called minor accidents. We can help with this process.
Head-on collisions can cause the most traumatic injuries and extensive damage of any road traffic accident. It is important you know what steps to take if you are involved in such an accident and may be eligible to make a claim.
Your first step when making a claim for injuries suffered in a head-on collision is to submit the claim to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board.
Establishing who caused the accident can be difficult, particularly because you may not remember the events that led up to it.
To hold the other driver liable for the accident, you must prove that they caused it by breaking the rules of the road. Here are some factors to consider when trying to make your case:
- Is the cause of the accident clear?
- Did witnesses observe the accident?
- Did either driver make an obvious error?
- What was said by either party immediately after the event?
Answering these questions will help you to make a case that the other party was at fault. Gardaí who took statements after the accident may be able to give you information about comments made by other parties involved.
Injuries sustained in head-on collisions can be particularly serious, including:
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Internal injuries
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Back and spinal injuries
- Nerve injury
No amount of compensation can make up for the loss of a loved one, but it can help to lessen some of the financial repercussions of fatal injuries. Road traffic accidents are among the most common causes of fatalities.
How to make a fatal injury claim
When a loved one has died in a traffic accident, it is difficult to expect their relatives to take on the burden of taking a fatal injury claim. However, it is important to act as quickly as possible to ensure dependents of the deceased are looked after. This is why it is a good idea to involve your trusted solicitor as soon as you can. They have the skill and experience to manage the process efficiently and with the utmost sensitivity.
Under the Civil Liability Act, dependents may include a spouse, cohabiting partner (for at least three years), parent, grandparent, stepparent, child, grandchild, stepchild, brother, sister, half-brother or half-sister of the deceased.
Several dependents may bring a claim for damages arising out of the wrongful death of the deceased. The person who brings the claim does so on behalf of all the dependents.
When to take a fatal injuries claim
The Civil Liability Act requires a letter of claim to be sent to the defendant within two months of the accident, so it is important to contact your solicitors as soon as possible after the event.
After your solicitor has sent a letter of claim to the defendant, she will apply to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. If the defendant admits liability and agrees to the claim being assessed, the board may assess the claim and decide on suitable compensation.
If you disagree with the board’s assessment, the case may go to trial— usually in the High Court. The Court may also intervene and adjudicate in cases that the PIAB might find difficult to assess due to the extent of loss of earnings involved in the claim.
What kinds of damages apply in fatal injuries claims?
The following types of financial damages may be awarded in a fatal road accident claim:
- Special damages to cover funeral expenses (or repatriation if the deceased is a foreign national) and out-of-pocket spending.
- Loss of dependency claims may be brought by individuals who relied on the deceased for their financial upkeep. The deceased’s income and expenditure at the time of death are considered when determining a claim for loss of dependency. Note: The defendant’s insurance company will challenge a loss of earnings claim, so your solicitor will engage an actuary to provide expert evidence to support the claim for loss of earnings.
- Compensation for emotional distress is capped at €35,000 for a fatal injuries claim. This is distributed among all of the deceased’s statutory dependants.
Claims for accidents on bends in the road are quite common, especially after accidents on country roads, which can be narrow and twisting. Visibility on these kinds of roads may be limited, particularly if the car is being driven too fast for the driver to control when an oncoming car appears.
Determining liability for accidents on bends in the road
If you have been injured in a road traffic accident on a bend in the road, your first step is to make a claim to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. Your claim may be successful if the accident is deemed to be the other driver’s fault.
- If your car was stationary, the driver who collided with you is likely to be held responsible.
- If your car was struck by a vehicle on the wrong side of the road because it was overtaking another vehicle at the time, that driver is likely to be considered responsible for the accident.
- If your car was struck by a vehicle pulling out from a side road, that driver will probably be deemed responsible for the accident because they should have checked that the road was clear. However, other factors may show that they were not to blame.
Remember that if you are partly to blame for the accident (through contributory negligence), damages may be reduced in proportion to your level of fault.
Road traffic accidents are common where traffic lanes merge. If you have been injured in an accident where another driver has shown negligence when entering merging traffic, you may be able to claim.
Where are Merging Lanes Commonly Found?
Merging lanes are found where lanes blend together leading into motorways. They can be tricky to negotiate for drivers who are inexperienced or not concentrating.
The volume and speed of traffic on motorways means that merging traffic accidents can involve multiple vehicles. In these situations, the driver who made the initial error may be held accountable for all of the car accidents.
Why do accidents happen in merging traffic?
Road traffic accidents in merging traffic can be caused by factors such as:
Motorway shoulders that are too sharp can prompt drivers to cross into adjacent lanes and collide with oncoming vehicles. The median strips separating motorists travelling in opposite directions may also cause problems if they are too low or not reflective.
If the local authorities do not maintain the roads properly, erosion can create potholes. Trying to avoid potholes can force motorists into the paths of oncoming vehicles.
Drivers who act irresponsibly by crossing multiple lanes without due care, cutting off other cars, or not using indicators can cause accidents.
Due to the volume and speed of traffic, motorway accidents are unfortunately common. For the same reasons, many of these accidents involve multiple vehicles. Here is what you need to know if you are involved in a traffic accident on a motorway:
Responsibility for the Accident
The higher speed limit and larger volume of traffic mean that drivers must be particularly careful about following the rules of the road on motorways. If the other driver involved in a motorway accident did not follow the rules of the road properly, they may be held responsible for the accident. Make sure you get their insurance details at the scene, so that you can pursue a claim.
Motorway Accident Causes
Accidents on motorways can happen for the same reasons that cause other traffic accidents—speeding, drink or drug driving, driver fatigue, and distraction due to mobile phone use.
The increased speed and volume of traffic on motorways mean that the following factors are also very significant in causing road traffic accidents:
- Weather Conditions: Snow and heavy rain can make road surfaces slippery, so if drivers are travelling at speed, they cannot stop as easily. Keep a distance of at least four seconds between your car and the one in front.
- Tailgating: If you are impatient and drive too closely to the car in front, you may collide with the rear of the vehicle if it stops or slows suddenly. Allow enough room to brake safely.
- Debris: Travelling at speed gives you less time to spot and avoid obstacles. Slowing down allows you to move around debris and other hazards safely.
Here are some of the serious kinds of motorway traffic accidents you could be involved in:
- Overtaking collisions (often caused by overtaking on the inside lane)
- Collisions involving multiple cars piling up
- Tailgating accidents
- Accidents involving heavy goods vehicles (HVGs) (particularly when strong crosswinds tip over the vehicle) Accidents caused by failing to heed roadworks signs
- Incidents involving defective brake lights, indicators, and headlights
Zebra crossings are designed to keep pedestrians safe when they cross the road. However, accidents do happen at these crossings, generally because of driver or pedestrian error. All road users need to follow the rules of the road and consider other road users around zebra crossings.
Who is responsible for a zebra crossing accident?
Establishing who caused the accident is the most important issue when you are making a claim for a zebra crossing accident. If it was your fault, you may not be able to claim successfully.
Users need to follow the rules for zebra crossings:
- Drivers should slow down as they approach a zebra crossing. A stop line shows where you need to stop to allow pedestrians to cross safely.
- Drivers are not allowed to park or overtake on the zigzag lines close to zebra crossings.
- Pedestrians do not have the right of way until they have stepped onto a zebra crossing.
- Do not walk onto a zebra crossing if oncoming traffic is too close to stop safely.
- Where an island divides two zebra crossings, pedestrians must treat the crossings as separate.
- Do not try to cross the road on the zig-zag lines approaching a zebra crossing.
Road markings are designed to show road users where they should be so that everyone can use the road safely. When they are confusing or poorly maintained, they can cause accidents.
Who is Responsible?
When a road traffic accident is caused by road markings, the fault can sometimes lies with those in charge of maintaining the roads. These authorities are responsible for ensuring that road markings are visible and don’t confuse road users. If they neglect this responsibility, they can be found liable and anyone involved in a road traffic accident caused by their failure may have a case to claim against them.
Accidents are very common when drivers are attempting to park their vehicles. Multiple cars in close proximity increases the risk of a collision. Here’s what you need to know:
Who is responsible?
- A driver who pulls out of a parking space suddenly and collides with another car is usually found responsible for the accident if their behaviour is proved negligent.
- In a car park, drivers on the access lanes have the right of way. If you pull out of a parking space and hit a car in the traffic lane, usually you will be found responsible for the collision.
- If there are doubts about liability, your solicitor may ask to see CCTV footage of the car park.
Bollards are used to stop vehicles from entering private or council property, but they can cause damage and injury if they are damaged. If they become loose or damaged through contact with vehicles, they can cause a hazard for pedestrians and cyclists.
Who is responsible for an accident caused by a faulty bollard?
According to the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1995, the occupier of a property needs to show a reasonable duty of care to visitors. This means that they should take necessary precautions to prevent injury on their property. This includes regular maintenance to reduce the risk of an accident occurring and to ensure that the property is safe and free from defects.
If it can be proved that the occupier was negligent in the maintenance of a bollard that then causes an accident, they may be found liable. However, if the injured person had a role in causing the accident, through contributory negligence, they may not be eligible to make a claim or damages could be greatly reduced.
Driving lesson accident claims may result when a driving instructor’s negligence causes an accident involving a learner driver. Inexperience among learner drivers can cause accidents, but negligence must be proved to make a claim against the instructor
What is the legal position of learner drivers?
Learner drivers have the same duty of care as other road users, but other drivers should be more careful around inexperienced drivers and increase their braking distance.
These are the rules for learner drivers:
- A learner driver must be at least 17 years old
- They must hold a provisional licence. (The learner must pass the driver theory test to apply for this).
- They must be accompanied by a passenger whose driver’s licence has been full and clean for a minimum of two years.
- They must display “L” plates on the front and rear of the vehicle (and “N” plates for two years after they pass the driving test).
Who is responsible in an accident involving a learner driver?
- If the driving instructor fails to give clear direction to the learner and watch out for possible hazards, they may be held accountable if a collision occurs.
- The driving school may be found responsible for a driving lesson accident, if it supplied a defective vehicle.
- If another driver behaves without due care and attention (e.g. tailgating or attempting to overtake in a dangerous fashion), this driver may be found liable for any resulting accident.