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Major Road Traffic Accident Compensation

Major road traffic accidents are common in Ireland and can be categorised as non-fatal and fatal. According to the Road Safety Authority, 123 collisions resulted in 136 fatalities in 2021.

Table of Contents

    Major road traffic accident

    When a major road traffic collision occurs, causing a serious or fatal injury, there will be an investigation by the Gardai and possibly by the coroner. It may involve an inquest and even a criminal investigation.

    ‘Finding Your Way’ is a publication by the PARC (Promoting Awareness, Responsibility and Care) Road Safety Group, for families of victims following the death or serious injury of a loved one in a road traffic collision. It outlines the steps involved in the professional Garda Investigation, Inquest, Post Mortem, Civil and Criminal cases and provides links to further information. The majority of all claims submitted to the Personal Injuries Board were Motor Liability claims. Data Source: Road Safety Authority, 29 March 2023

    Am I entitled to a claim?

    If you have been involved in a road traffic accident as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian, and If the cause of the road traffic accident was not your fault, you may be eligible to seek legal remedy and claim any personal injuries and psychological injuries sustained, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

    The claim will also take into account the potential long-term negative effects that the accident can have on the victim’s quality of life and any additional expenses incurred as a result of the accident, such as fees for medical treatment and loss of earnings as a result of the accident.

    Types of claim

    The following are some examples of injuries that you could sustain from a road accident.

    Common causes

    Road traffic accidents can occur for several different reasons, such as:

    • Bad road conditions
    • Hazardous weather
    • Fatigue
    • Blind spots
    • Unsafe vehicles
    • Unsafe driving practices – speeding, disobeying the rules of the road
    • Merging traffic
    • Texting while driving
    • Driving under the influence

    Hence, road traffic accident claims such as car crash, bicycle, and motorcycle crash claims are among the most common cases to be submitted to the Personal Injuries Board by solicitors. Negligent behaviours and actions on the road by drivers can lead to many unfortunate road traffic accidents. The majority of all claims submitted to the Personal Injuries Board were Motor Liability claims.

    What do you do in case of a road accident?

    1. Seek medical attention

    First, ensure everyone receives immediate medical attention if necessary. Even if you have only suffered a minor injury, we recommend you present yourself at the nearest A&E or meet with your GP. Even if you feel okay immediately after the incident, a minor injury may become more serious.

    2. Collect any information relevant to the accident and any future claim

    Such information could include:

    • Details of everyone involved in the accident, particularly any drivers, including name, address, contact information, vehicle registration number and insurance information
    • Contact details of any emergency service workers who attend the incident
    • Photographs of the scene from different angles
    • Any CCTV footage of the accident
    • Dash cam footage
    • The date, time, and weather conditions at the time of the accident
    • Receipts of any expenses you have incurred due to the accident
    • Copies of Garda reports or any medical reports are very important for any future claim

    3. Contact the Gardaí

    It is essential that you report any accident to the Gardaí, no matter how minor. If it is minor and the Gardaí does not attend the scene, you must visit your local station and request they record the details of the incident and take a statement for you.

    4. Contact your insurance provider

    If you are driving a vehicle involved in a car accident, you should notify your insurance company.

    5. Contact a solicitor

    It is advisable that you reach out to a solicitor as soon as possible after the accident if you are considering making a claim. A solicitor can guide you through the claims process and help you to avoid unnecessary delays.

    Road accident related law

    Car accident law refers to legal rules that determine who is responsible for the personal and property damage resulting from a road traffic collision. This area of law consists of the principles of negligence. Car accident victims must prove the same basic four elements in order to recover compensation. These elements are:

    • Duty: drivers have a legal obligation to obey the rules of the road and operate their vehicles in a reasonable manner.
    • Breach: the plaintiff will usually be required to offer evidence that a defendant breached their duty. A breach can be shown by direct evidence such as eyewitness testimony, a traffic surveillance video or an admission of fault.
    • Causation: the plaintiff must prove causation (e.g. that the defendant’s breach of duty caused the injuries to occur). This can be provided by medical testimony demonstrating injuries are consistent with the nature of the crash and that they didn’t exist beforehand.
    • Harm: the plaintiff cannot bring a negligence lawsuit unless the defendant’s conduct is what produced the damage to the other person or vehicle.

    The claim process

    1. Contact our solicitors

    Our road accident solicitors are experts in advising clients on how to make these claims. Many people use a solicitor to aid with this application process as a lot of paperwork and filing are required, and our expert team is on hand to make the process as smooth as possible.

    2. The PIAB Application

    The next step is to make an application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). If your personal injury claim concerns anything other than medical negligence, some assaults, and some cases of entirely psychological injury, then your claim can be brought through PIAB. Examples of claims that PIAB covers include:

    3. Submitting information and documents to PIAB

    Your solicitor will obtain evidence, medical reports, and other expert reports required. And submits these documents to the Board for Assessment.

    4. Consent to assess the claim

    Once the application is made, PIAB issues a formal notification of claim to the defendant(s). The defendant(s) must indicate within 90 days whether or not they consent to the assessment of the claim. If the defendant consents, then PIAB will proceed to assess the claim. If they decline to have the case assessed, the PIAB will issue an Authorisation to allow the claimant to initiate court proceedings.

    5. Claim assessment time

    If PIAB is assessing the claim, this will usually take about 9 months. They will then issue their Assessment of your claim, this amount reflects general and special damages awarded in respect of your claim. If the Assessment is accepted by both parties, the PIAB will issue an Order to Pay. The Order to Pay has the same status as an Order of the Court, and must be discharged by the defendant(s) within 10 days. A settlement cheque will then be issued to the claimant. If the Assessment is rejected by either party, an Authorisation will be granted by PIAB to bring court proceedings.

    Compensation amount

    How much compensation you receive for a road accident is dictated by two legally binding documents known as:

    The “Book of Quantum” and

    The recently published Personal Injuries Guidelines by the Judicial Council of Ireland.

    The Book of Quantum dictates how much compensation you are owed if your Authorisation was received from PIAB prior to the 21st of April 2021. In all other cases, compensation in respect of general damages is assessed with the aid of the Judicial council’s Personal Injuries Guidelines.

    The Book of Quantum sets out general guidelines as to the amounts that may be awarded or assessed in Personal Injury Claims. The guidelines are divided into sections depending on what category of injury was suffered, e.g., head injuries, neck injuries, back injuries and spinal fractures, upper limb injuries, lower limb injuries, and body and internal organs. The Book of Quantum sets out 4 steps to assess what compensation is appropriate for the suffered injury. These steps are as follows:

    1. Identify the category of injury
    2. Assess the severity of the injury (through medical reports and records)
    3. Research the value range
    4. Consider the effect of multiple injuries

    The Personal Injuries Guidelines were adopted by The Judicial Council on the 6th of March 2021. Similar to the Book of Quantum, this legal document sets out guidelines for assessing compensation in respect of general damages. The general principles for this assessment centre on three criteria:

    1. Awards of damages must be fair and reasonable to both the claimant and the defendant(s)
    2. Awards must be proportionate to the injuries sustained
    3. Awards must be compared on a scale of injuries that are both of a lesser and greater magnitude

    One of the most substantial differences brought about by this update is that the average level of damages awarded has been reduced. The new guidelines have, however, provided more detail and more explanation for claimants, which is overall a welcomed change to the process of making a personal injury claim.

    Compensation amount in detail

    The compensation you may be entitled to as a result of the accident may be grouped into three headings.

    1. General Damages

    To compensate for non-financial losses such as injuries and the pain and suffering caused by the accident.

    2. Special Damages

    These damages cover the expenses you accrued due to the accident, for example, loss of earnings, the cost of travel to hospital appointments, and treatment bills.

    3. Material Damages

    This covers damage to your personal property, for example, the damage to your vehicle due to the accident.

    What to do to strengthen a possible claim?

    • Take photographs of any visible injuries
    • Take photographs of your vehicle/accident scene if possible
    • If you didn’t require medical attention at the scene of the accident, make sure you visit the doctor afterward, as injuries may present themselves at a later stage.
    • Write down all details of the accident as soon as possible; even small details which may seem minor at the time may assist your future case.

    Statute of Limitations

    You have two years from the date of the accident within which to issue proceedings. If you are under 18, a separate set of rules apply, and we would recommend you contact our solicitors to discuss these. To learn more about the statute of limitation for a nerve damage claim, click here.

    Duty of care for road maintenance

    In certain instances, injuries sustained in a major road accident weren’t the fault of another road user but instead of the authority that failed to maintain the roads in a safe condition. In most circumstances, this would be the local council’s responsibility, but utility companies and even private homeowners may be liable for creating a hazard on the roads.

    However, it is worth noting that a council’s duty of care to maintain the roads in a safe condition is not absolute. For example, if a hazard that caused your accident suddenly appeared, which the Council couldn’t have ‘reasonably’ been expected to repair in the length of time available to them, then you might not be able to make a car accident injury claim at all.

    Our team

    Coleman Legal LLP Team

    If you have been involved in an accident or suffered an injury at another person’s hands, we advise all persons to contact our injury claim solicitors at the earliest available opportunity. If you want to take legal action over a personal injury, you should consult our injury solicitors, who are members of the Law Society’s injury accreditation scheme and clinical negligence accreditation scheme. Contacted us at

    Coleman Legal LLP

    84 Talbot Street, Dublin 1
    D01 YX60
    DX 112002

    Contact Details

    Free Phone: 1800-844-104
    Fax: (01) 5312727
    Email: [email protected]
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    Clodagh Magennis

    Clodagh Magennis

    Head of Client Services

    P: 1800-844-104
    E: [email protected]

    ”At Coleman Legal, excellence in customer care is paramount. We aim to meet both prospective and existing client’s needs in a professional, engaging, and friendly manner with a clear objective to give quality legal advice and reach a positive outcome.”

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