If you are involved in a motor accident, whether with another motor vehicle, another user of the road or with an object along the road, there are certain things you are required by law to do. There are also things which it is advisable to do for safety reasons and to help reduce any possible financial loss to yourself.
What should I do if I am involved in a motor accident?
If the accident is serious the cars should not be moved. If the accident is minor and the cars are blocking the road or are a danger to other road users, the road should be marked and the cars moved. Take care when moving damaged cars and be alert to the danger from leaking fuel.
You should try to warn oncoming traffic of the accident. You can warn them by using your hazard lights. If you have a reflective advance-warning triangle, place it on the road far enough from the scene of the accident to give enough warning to approaching traffic. If the accident happens near a bend in the road, make sure you give warning to traffic on both sides of the bend.
If you need to ask for another road user’s help to warn traffic, do so right away.
If someone is injured the Gardaí should be contacted (telephone 999 or 112) and, if necessary, ambulance services.
Further information on what to do at the scene of an accident is available in the Rules of the Road (pdf).
What are my legal obligations?
Your legal obligations, if you are involved in a motor accident, are contained in Section 106 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 as amended. You must stop your car and remain at the scene of the accident for a reasonable time.
If a Garda is present at the scene of the accident you must give, when requested:
- Your name and address
- The address where your car is kept
- The name and address of the car owner
- The car's registration number
- Motor insurance details (including expiry date of the policy)
If there is no Garda present you must, when requested, give this information to:
- The injured person where a person has been injured (or someone asking on the person’s behalf).
- To the owner where property has been damaged (or someone asking on the owner’s behalf).
If none of these are present the information should be given to some independent person who was present when the accident occurred.
If there is no Garda present, the accident must be reported as soon as possible to a Garda who is nearby or at a Garda station. This can be done by the persons, if any, to whom you gave the information. If they are not in a position to do so, you must report the accident.
What other steps should I take?
You should obtain the information listed above from the other drivers involved in the accident. If the accident involves damage to property get the owner’s name, address and telephone number.
Get the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses as these may be required if there is a question of liability.
Take photos of the scene of the accident if you have a camera. These should include photos of the cars before they are moved.
You should obtain the name or number of the Garda to whom the accident is reported. You may need to ensure that a Garda report has been filed for insurance purposes.
You should write down an account of all relevant facts connected to the accident as soon as possible afterwards. You should sign and date it (including the time) when it is completed.
If you wish to claim compensation where you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or unidentified car you should contact the Motor Insurer's Bureau of Ireland (MIBI). It also deals with claims arising from foreign motoring in Ireland or Irish motorists abroad.
Serious road traffic accidents
When a serious road traffic collision occurs, causing a serious or fatal injury, there will be an investigation by the Gardaí and possibly the coroner. It may involve an inquest and even a criminal prosecution. PARC Road Safety Group has published Finding your way (pdf). It is a guide for victims where the driver under suspicion of having caused a fatal or serious injury collision has survived and a criminal prosecution may follow.