Lawlink – What do I do after I crashed into a parked car and left the scene?

Photo: Clark Van Der Beken/Unsplash.

Q: About six weeks ago I was coming out of a busy shopping centre in the city. Unfortunately I wasn’t paying the fullest attention and crashed fairly heavily into a parked car. It was parked poorly, almost across two spaces, but I really should have seen it. I waited for a few minutes but there was no sign of the other driver. I left my name and phone number under the wiper in a plastic bag (it was quite rainy). It didn’t seem like there was too much damage done. A Garda recently called to me and told me that I had left the scene of the accident. He took my insurance details and said that they would be in touch. What should I do?

Dear Reader,

Strictly speaking it is an offence to leave the scene of an accident where an injury or damage has occurred.

As a driver you have a positive duty to contact the Gardaí and inform them that an accident has occurred. Often, for minor incidents, the Gardaí will simply make a note and advise you that you can move on. That said, for very minor incidents like this, Gardaí are often not interested in prosecution and may simply want the damage dealt with.

The fact that you left your details at the scene would be helpful in that it shows that you were trying to do the right thing, but nevertheless you did fall slightly short of what your legal obligations might be in such a circumstance.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

You should immediately contact your insurers and provide them with as many details as they might require. It is most likely a term of your insurance that you notify them immediately of any incident. This may, perhaps, enable them to refuse to cover the accident. If they refuse to indemnify you, there are various appeals that you can lodge to try and reverse the position.

Again, given that the gap between the incident and the notification to them is relatively short, they may very well decide to indemnify you in this circumstance.

You should stay in close contact with your insurers. If they pay out on foot of the claim, you may lose your no claims bonus. If the damage to the other vehicle is minor, it may very well be cost effective for you to pay for the damages to the other vehicle yourself.

If you are unsure as to what steps you should take, do contact your solicitor.