What happens if I am hit by an uninsured or untraceable driver?
When you are involved in a road traffic accident you would hope that the responsible party would stop at the scene and you would exchange contact and valid insurance details. However, this is not always the case and if you have been involved in an accident resulting in material damage or personal injuries by a driver that is either uninsured or untraceable you may be unsure of how to proceed.
The Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) was established by the government in 1955 and is currently regulated by the 2009 Agreement. Their main objective is to compensate victims of road traffic accidents caused by uninsured and unidentified vehicles.
What MIBI can help with
In respect of uninsured drivers, the MIBI Agreement provides for the following;
- Payment of compensation for personal injury claims in respect of road traffic accidents caused by uninsured vehicles.
- Payment of compensation of vehicle/property claims where the alleged offending vehicle can be identified by means of a valid registration plate.
- Where the vehicle cannot be identified, the MIBI has no liability to pay compensation for vehicle/property damage except in circumstances where there are significant personal injuries arising from the same accident.
In respect of unidentified drivers, the MIBI Agreement provides for the following;
- Payment of compensation for personal injury claims in respect of road traffic accidents caused by unidentified vehicles.
- Agreement does not extend to vehicle or property damage caused by unidentified vehicles unless very serious injuries have also been sustained in the same accident.
What you should do
If you have been involved in a road traffic accident caused by an uninsured or unidentified driver it is important to get as many details as you can from the scene and contact a Solicitor as soon as possible. The Solicitor will be able to advise the appropriate course of action which may include making a claim to the MIBI.
In essence if the uninsured driver is either known or can be tracked with use of some reasonable efforts, such responsible uninsured driver must be named in proceedings or otherwise the injured party risk losing their case and no compensation will be paid by MIBI.
Natalie Grimes V Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland
This recent judgement relates to the circumstances in which a case can be taken against the MIBI as a sole Defendant. The MIBI Agreement 2009, Section 6 states that such a case can only be taken where the third party responsible for the accident has been determined untraceable and thus cannot be sued.
In this case, the Plaintiff sued that MIBI as a sole Defendant on this basis, despite the responsible party being personally known to her for well over a decade as well as being the father of her child. The circumstances of this particular case are somewhat unusual but this is a defining judgement in terms of what it actually means to be ‘untraceable’ within the meaning of the MIBI agreement. It is clear that on this particular set of facts, the judge did not opine that the third party was untraceable under the MIBI agreement (Section 6). Of particular relevance was the fact that the inspecting Garda actually had several addresses for the relevant party which the judge felt could have been obtained by means of more persistent enquiry from the Plaintiff herself and more particularly from her Solicitor.
The function of the MIBI is to allow those who suffer as loss at the hands of an uninsured driver to seek compensation but this does not impose a responsibility to be listed as a sole defendant in circumstances where the responsible party is traceable and reasonable enquires would have confirmed that he was within the jurisdiction at the relevant time.
This judgement clarifies that Section 6 of the MIBI Agreement cannot be relied upon to solely impose liability on the MIBI for ‘the payment of compensation for the personal injury or death of any person caused by the negligent use of a vehicle in a public place’ where sufficient efforts were not made to trace the responsible third party. The MIBI is not a tortfeasor and the courts will not tolerate them being treated as such.