Involved in a Lorry Accident?
While all traffic collisions are traumatic for the people involved, those involving lorries and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) can be especially so for the drivers of these vehicles as well as other road users. In cases where you are involved in a crash that was not your fault, there may be a legal remedy. You can seek this legal remedy by way of a lorry accident claim.
What is a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV)?
Heavy Goods Vehicles are defined as goods vehicles with a maximum gross weight of more than 3.5 tons. Because of the weight of these large vehicles, road accidents involving HGVs are more serious than other types of accidents. Buses and coaches are included since they are usually quite large. Accidents involving HGVs tend to be very forceful collisions which can result in higher levels of damage to the vehicles and more serious injuries being sustained to anyone involved. Due to the substantial growth in online shopping in recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of delivery trucks and HGVs on Irish roads.
One of the main factors present in many road traffic accidents is driver fatigue. Driver fatigue or tiredness can cause the driver of a vehicle to lose concentration, or worse, fall asleep at the wheel of their vehicle while driving on the road. This factor is even more prominent when it comes to operating a HGV as many lorry drivers encounter long hauls daily.
For this reason, the EU introduced strict regulations on the driving time (hours) of professional driving operating vehicles over 3.5 tons, including trailers, and passenger vehicles with more than 8 passenger seats onboard. Every HGV is required to have a tachograph installed on their vehicle. This device automatically records the speed, distance and time the driver has covered.
The key requirements for drivers of HGV’s are as follows:
- The longest period you can drive without a break is 4.5 hours.
- After driving for 4.5 hours, you must take a mandatory break of 45 minutes. This 45 minute break can be split into a 15 minute break followed by a 30 minute break over the 4.5 hours of driving.
- During this break, you must not drive or do any other form of work, this is exclusively a rest period.
- The daily driving time limit is 9 hours per day. This can be extended to 10 hours but for no more than two times a week.
For further information on the European Union rules on drivers’ hours, visit the RSA’s guide by clicking here.
Common Lorry Accident Claims*
The most common lorry accident claims are:
What do I do if I'm involved in a lorry accident?
Following an accident involving a HGV, whether as a driver, passenger, pedestrian or cyclist there are several steps you should follow:
Seek medical attention
Your health is your wealth and should be your first priority. Immediately after a lorry accident, take a second to assess yourself to determine if you have any injuries. Then check if any passengers or anybody else involved in the accident need medical attention. If you or anyone else involved has sustained a serious injury ensure that you contact an ambulance to attend the scene.
For minor injuries, you must remember that minor injuries where you ‘feel fine’ could progress to a more serious injury in the future. In this case it is always better to be safe than sorry and advisable that you go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) or local GP to be checked out.
Gather all relevant information at the scene
It is important that you collect all the relevant information in connection with your accident:
- Details of the lorry number, route and closest stop.
- If Details of another driver(s)/people involved: name, address, contact information, vehicle registration number and vehicle insurance information. You can also offer your own information to the others involved in the accident.
- Name and contact details of any emergency service workers at the scene – paramedic/Gardaí.
- Take a picture of the scene, from different angles; this will help your solicitor understand how the accident happened.
- If there are any CCTV recordings of the accident, such as CCTV cameras in a nearby shop, for example, you should try to obtain this footage.
- Record the time and date of the accident.
- Weather conditions at the time.
Report the incident to the Gardaí
Regardless of how minor or serious the lorry accident was, it is important that you call the Gardaí to report the accident immediately.
For minor accidents, the Gardaí may tell you that they will not be attending the scene. It may be a case where you can settle the issue yourself. In this scenario, the appropriate information should be exchanged. In these cases, it is also important that you visit your nearest Garda station to request that they take details of the accident and to take your statement about the accident.
For more serious lorry accidents, where an ambulance has been called, the Gardaí may arrive at the scene to assess, take statements from the people involved and any witnesses.
Contact your insurance company
If you are the driver of the vehicle involved in a lorry accident or a passenger onboard it is important to inform the lorry company so they have a record of the accident.
Speak to a lorry accident claims solicitor
If you are considering moving forward with a lorry accident claim for any personal injuries sustained it is advisable that you speak with a lorry accident claims solicitor as soon as possible. If you are proceeding with a claim, the first step will be submitting your claim to the Injuries Board for assessment. A lorry accident solicitor can help you in preparing your application to the Injuries Board and ensure that you follow the process in the correct format, meaning that you can move forward with your claim quickly without unnecessary delays.
It is important to remember to keep copies of any expenses that you have incurred as a result of the accident. It is also imperative to retain copies of medical reports or Garda reports, where possible as you will need them when making a claim.