Before we send you into a fit of panic, we’ve put together a nice little guide for what to do, and importantly, what NOT to do if you have a car accident…
- Don’t admit you’re at fault, whatever you do. Even if you believe you’re the driver at fault, leave this to your insurance provider to determine. Having said that, you shouldn’t provide false or misleading information either.
- Don’t drive away in an un-roadworthy car.
- Actually, if you’re feeling frazzled or upset, you probably shouldn’t drive at all. Ring a friend or catch a cab. You’re likely to be in shock or at least have rattled nerves. A nerve-rattled driver isn’t good on the road and the last thing you want is to have a 2nd accident!
- Don’t leave your car in the middle of the road as this can cause further accidents. However in saying that, only move it if it’s actually safe to do so.
- Don’t argue with the other driver. No matter how angry you are, adding emotion and anger will only fuel the fire. It doesn’t matter if it was absolutely unquestionably their fault; the angrier you get the less likely the other driver is to be cooperative.
- It’s against the law to leave the scene of an accident without providing your details to the other driver. If someone does leave in a tiff without providing their details, at least make sure you get their licence plate number and call the police. This is where the police need to get involved and find out the identity of the other driver to help you make an insurance claim.
- Don’t rely on anyone’s family member or friend to fix your car. Chances are you probably don’t know the other driver so you have no idea if the job will be done in a timeframe and to a quality you’re happy with. Always go through your insurance company.
- Know your legal obligations:
- You legally must stop if you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident.
- You must provide your name, address, registration and insurance details to other people involved.
- You must report the accident to the police if someone is hurt, if there is significant property damage, if you suspect the other driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if the other driver leaves the scene without providing their details. Minor bingles don’t need the police involved.
- Switch off the ignition, turn on the hazard lights and try to move your car out of traffic.
- Call an ambulance straight away if someone is injured. Even if they say they’re okay, whiplash and concussion aren’t always immediately evident and can cause serious problems later on.
- Beware of the towies! Locals can get spotters’ fees if they call a local towing company, so will make the call whether you need to be towed or not. All of a sudden they will be surrounding you like vultures and let me tell you, a tattooed, large-bellied, unshaven towie (sorry for the stereotype) can be pretty intimidating — especially if you’re already a little shaken. Don’t make rash decisions, your insurance provider (or police officer, if one is on site) will be able to refer you to a reputable towing company.
- Make sure you take the details of the other driver. Cite (or take a photo of) their driver’s licence so you know you’re not getting misleading information. Be sure to at least capture:
- Car registration, make, model and colour.
- Licence details of the other driver including full name, address, DOB and licence number. If the licence was issued in another state, you should note that as well.
- Phone number of the other driver.
- Insurance details of the driver. Most people don’t have their policy number handy (though they should) so at least get the insurer’s name.
- If any witnesses have stopped to see if you need help, ask them if they will be an official witness. Take their name, number and licence details because if there is a dispute, you’ll be glad to have a third party describe the accident.
- Take some pics. Pull out your phone and take a couple of pictures of any damage to the cars, people or other property. If you believe the other driver ran a red light or ignored any other traffic signs, take a picture of that as well. You never know when these things end up in a dispute — it’s easier to get as much information at the scene, as this serves as a memory jogger and may help your insurer process the claim quicker
As much as we try to avoid them; accidents happen. However if you get to know what to do and what not to do, stay as calm (as humanly possible) and seek the help of the police if you need it, you’ll lessen your legal risk and your likelihood of making a costly error.
For more tips and tricks on anything auto related, check out the Blue Toro Blog.