Law column: What to do when involved in collision with uninsured driver

Can I take a claim for personal injuries even though the other driver was not insured?
Law column: What to do when involved in collision with uninsured driver

It turns out that the car was registered to a fictitious owner. The driver cannot be traced and the car was not insured. 

Q. I was recently involved in a road traffic accident and the driver of the other car fled the scene. 

The Gardaí attended and investigated the matter. It turns out that the car was registered to a fictitious owner. 

The driver cannot be traced and the car was not insured. 

I suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident. Can I take a claim for personal injuries even though the other driver was not insured?

A. Although the law provides that every motorist must be insured, a situation such as yours is not uncommon as there are many drivers now on our roads who are not insured.

MIBI

Thankfully there is a body known as the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), which compensates victims of accidents caused by uninsured, untraced or unidentified drivers. Therefore, although the car was uninsured and the driver fled the scene, it is still possible to make a claim through the MIBI. 

However, there are onerous obligations on claimants seeking to claim through the MIBI and certain steps must be taken as set out in the 2009 MIBI Agreement.

The first step in the process is to notify the MIBI of your intention to seek compensation from it by submitting a Claim Notification Form which can be downloaded at www.MIBI.ie. The form requires you to submit details in respect of the accident including the date, time, and location of the accident, your own personal details, the vehicle registration number, names of the Gardaí who attended the scene, injuries sustained and doctors/hospitals which you may have attended in respect of your injuries. The form must be submitted via email or registered post as proof of notification is important.

Time limit on making a claim 

It is vital that that MIBI is notified as soon as possible and you have two years from the date of the accident within which to make a claim pursuant to the Statute of Limitations.

Once this form is submitted, the MIBI will investigate the matter and nominate an insurance company to deal with the matter on the MIBI’s behalf. The MIBI can demand that you furnish it with other information reasonably required to process the claim, such as medical reports. As the driver in your case cannot be traced, the MIBI may require you to make yourself available for interview by an agent of the MIBI to answer reasonable questions relating to the accident. These interviews are standard in cases where the other driver cannot be traced and you have a right to have a solicitor present at this interview if you wish.

Once the MIBI has acknowledged receipt of your Claim Notification Form, the next step is to submit an application to the Injuries Board naming the MIBI as the defendant. The MIBI must be notified of your intention to make such an application to the Injuries Board.

The MIBI may offer to settle your claim in the meantime or allow the Injuries Board to assess the matter in the normal way. If the Injuries Board decides it is more appropriate that the matter be determined by the courts, it will issue an authorisation allowing you to issue court proceedings against the MIBI and to pursue a civil action for damages. To succeed in a claim against the MIBI you must be able to prove that the uninsured driver was negligent and that this negligence caused the injury and loss suffered by you .This is the case even where the uninsured driver cannot be traced.

The question was answered by Amy Connolly, a solicitor in Cantillons Solicitors of 39 South Mall, Cork. 

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