Here’s what I suggest you do if you have a car accident and have to bring a car damage claim:
AT THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT
- Check and see if anyone has been injured.
- If someone is injured, call an ambulance or other emergency services. You should also call the Gardaí and you should not leave the scene of the accident unless the emergency services need you to bring someone to hospital or the Gardaí permit it.
- If everyone is OK, photograph the vehicles in the location they ended up. Photograph any debris. Make sure to stand back also so you can see the overall accident in the photos – but only do this if it is safe. Check for witnesses and take their contact details.
- Once the photos are taken move the vehicles aside so traffic can pass and exchange insurance and contact details, address and registration numbers.
- Inform your insurance company and the other party’s insurance company of the accident. You are now free to leave.
WHAT IS THE WRONGED PARTY ENTITLED TO?
- The cost of repairs or to have the repairs carried out by a nominated garage.
- Cost of car hire or a replacement car until the repairs are completed.
- Depreciation to the value of the vehicle caused by the crash.
- Cost of any items in the vehicle damaged by the crash or that require replacement such as a baby seat. Remember, baby seats must be replaced once they are in a crash.
- If the cost of repairs exceed the value of the car, you are entitled to the pre-accident value of the car less what it’s worth for scrap or salvage.
HOW TO PROCEED WITH MATERIAL DAMAGE CLAIM?
- Inform yourself of the cost to repair the vehicle. Bring your vehicle to your garage and get a price for the cost of carrying out repairs and how long you will be without a car. Ask for an estimate of the amount the car will have depreciated now that it is a crashed car and for car rental.
- If the cost of repair is close to or exceeds the value of the car, inform yourself of the likely replacement cost of your car by going on DoneDeal, Carzone or similar websites or to your local garage and getting values for similar cares with similar mileage and the same year of manufacture with reputable garages. This is likely to be the value the insurance company will place on the car and will be the limit that the insurer will want to pay out.
- If the cost of repairs exceed this amount, the car is likely to be deemed a write off.
- Speak to the insurance company and arrange for their assessor to inspect your vehicle.
- Once the assessor’s report is submitted to the insurance company they will contact you and try to negotiate a figure.
- Once you have done your homework and have backup for your figures you will be negotiating from a position of knowledge and therefore strength.
WHAT IF YOU ARE IN THE WRONG?
This is why we have insurance, so you will not have to bear the costs of the damage and injury to the other party. Ordinary third party car insurance does not cover you for damage to your own car if you are the sole cause of the accident.
However, if you have comprehensive car insurance, then you will normally be covered for damage even if you caused the accident in error.
WHAT IF THE WRONGDOER IS NOT INSURED?
You will normally be covered by your own policy of insurance in this case. You should contact your insurer and they will assist you in this process.
WHAT IF THE INSURANCE COMPANY WILL NOT PAY OUT?
In these circumstances you should consult your Solicitor and you will be advised how best to proceed based on the circumstances in question.
WHAT IF YOU ARE INJURED?
If you are injured, go to your doctor.
If you wish to pursue a claim for your personal injuries, contact your Solicitor. Solicitors are prohibited by law from charging a percentage of the proceeds of your claim and should discuss and agree their fees with you up front.