What To Do When You Have An Accident
It is not something that anyone wants to experience, but accidents do happen on Ireland’s roads. It is therefore important that you know what you should (and in some areas shouldn’t) do if you are involved in an accident. Here are some tips.
It is easy to panic or lose your cool if you are in an accident, even when the accident is minor. It is important that you stay as calm as possible. This will help keep other people involved in the accident calm, it will help you remember what you should and shouldn’t do, and it will help you remember what happened more clearly, and document it more accurately.
The first thing that you should do is check if anyone is injured. You should obviously start with yourself and the people in your car. If you are able you should also check other parties – people in the other vehicles involved, or pedestrians. If someone is injured you shouldn’t move them, unless they are in danger. You should call an ambulance and the Gardai.
Call The Gardai
If someone is injured you will have already called the Gardai. If nobody is injured you don’t have to call them, but it is advisable. They can assess the situation from your description of the scene and they will decide whether they need to attend.
Make The Area Safe
You should try to make the area as safe as possible. If it is a major accident you shouldn’t move the cars, but you should do as much as you can to warn other drivers of the obstruction on the road. This includes placing warning triangles 20 to 25 metres from the accident.
If it is a minor car accident you should move your vehicle as far left as possible.
The biggest consideration here is safety – your safety and the safety of others. You should, for example, remove debris caused by the accident from the road if it might damage passing vehicles, but only if it is safe for you to do so.
Exchange Details With The Other Drivers
Some insurance companies may have specific advice which you should consult, but in general you should exchange the following information:
- Names, address and phone numbers of the drivers or anyone else involved
- Driver’s license numbers of anyone involved
- The name, address, and phone number of the owners of the vehicles, if different from the drivers
- The registration numbers of all the vehicles
- The make, model, and colour of the vehicles involved – get the year of manufacture if you can too
- The name of the insurance company and the policy number – get a telephone number if possible too
You are not allowed to withhold this information, and it cannot be withheld from you. If anyone else involved is not giving you the information, or says they will send it to you later, you should call the Gardai.
Get Details Of Others At The Scene
Make sure you also get the names and contact details of any witnesses to the accident. You should also get the name of any Gardai who attend the scene.
Use your phone or a camera to take photos. Some things you should try to photograph include:
- Skid marks
- The position of cars
- The damage caused to the cars
- Any damage caused to anything else
- The general scene
If you can’t take photos you should draw a sketch of the position of the vehicles as soon as you can after the accident.
Don’t Discuss Who Was At Fault
Do not discuss liability, even if you think the accident was your fault. Do not apologise for the circumstances of the accident either. This should only be discussed with the Gardai or your insurance company.
Write Down What Happened
As soon as you can after the accident you should document what happened. Some of the information you should write down includes:
- Time the accident took place – as specifically as you can
- Weather conditions
- Traffic conditions
- Road conditions
- What happened
- Damage caused to the vehicles
Report The Accident
If the Gardai did not attend the accident it is worth giving them a call again to report it and make sure it is properly recorded.
This can seem like a lot to do in what is often a stressful situation, but the more information you can collect, and the more details that you can record immediately after the accident (or soon after), the easier the situation will be to deal with in the long run.