If you are involved in a motor accident, the law requires you to do certain things. This applies whether the accident was with another motor vehicle, another user of the road or an object along the road. There are also things it is advisable to do for safety reasons and to help reduce your possible financial loss.
What are my legal obligations?
Your legal obligations, if you are involved in a motor accident, are set out in Section 106 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 as amended.
Stay at the scene: You must stop your car and remain at the scene of the accident for a reasonable time.
Provide information: If a Garda is present at the scene of the accident, you must give them, 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 the expiry date of the policy)
If there is no Garda present, you must give this information on request to:
- The injured person (where someone has been hurt) – or a person asking on their behalf
- The owner whose property has been damaged, or someone asking on their behalf
If none of these people are present, give the information to an independent person who was present when the accident occurred.
Report the accident: If there is no Garda present, you must report the accident as soon as possible to a Garda who is nearby or at a Garda station. The person (if any) you gave the information to can do this. If they are not in a position to do so, you must report the accident.
What else should I do if I am involved in a motor accident?
Decide whether to move the cars: If the accident is serious, do not move the cars. If the accident is minor and the cars are blocking the road or are a danger to other road users, mark their position on the road then move them. Take care when moving damaged cars and be alert to the danger from leaking fuel.
Warn other drivers: 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.
Call for help: If someone is injured, call the Gardaí (telephone 999 or 112) and, if necessary, ambulance services.
Get information: You should obtain the information listed above (under ‘Provide information’) 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 a question of liability arises.
Photos: Take photos of the scene of the accident if you have a camera. These should include photos of the vehicles before they are moved.
Garda details: 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.
Write down what happened: You should write down an account of all relevant facts connected to the accident as soon as possible afterwards. Sign and date your account (including the time) when it is completed.
Uninsured or unidentified cars: If you wish to claim compensation where you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or unidentified car, contact the Motor Insurer's Bureau of Ireland (MIBI). MIBI also deals with claims arising from foreign drivers in Ireland or Irish drivers abroad.
Further information: For more advice on what to do at the scene of an accident, see Rules of the Road (pdf).
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 may face a criminal prosecution.