Getting in a car crash can be a jolting experience. But it’s important to be proactive and think about what to do in the immediate aftermath.
Here’s what you need to do at the scene of an accident.
1. Relocate to a Safer Location
If you end up in an accident with non-serious injuries, try to focus on making sure you are aware of your surroundings. The last thing you want to do is to jump out of your car and risk causing another accident with surrounding traffic.
If your car is operable, try to pull it to the shoulder or off the road altogether. If it isn’t moving, then be sure to turn your hazard lights on to assist oncoming traffic. Next, you can start moving towards the other vehicle(s) involved.
2. Approach the other driver and witnesses
Once you’re okay, check on all other parties present at the scene of the accident. Assess the situation, and determine whether an ambulance should be called.
Don’t ignore symptoms like dizziness, slurred speech, or minor neck/back pains. There is no telling if a fracture or concussion could have occurred.
Most of all, don’t approach anyone in an aggressive or combative manner. Even if you are 100% correct and bear no responsibility for the accident. Being angry only creates an unsafe environment. You might even risk the driver fleeing the scene of the accident without any info.
3. Call the Police
No matter how small the accident may appear, you are going to want to have police there to faithfully record what they are told soon after the accident and what they observed.
Avoid accidentally incriminating yourself when giving your statements. Be factual and let the police officer do their job with investigating the scene. If no police can come or if nobody calls at the scene, you can file an accident report later on.
It’s important that the accident gets recorded into police records and helps legitimize your side as well.
4. Gathering Information
You should gather your own evidence as soon as practicable.
Take photographs of the damage points and locations of the vehicles involved in the accident ASAP. This can be very useful if there is later a dispute about how the accident occurred. Upload your photos and video to cloud storage for added security.
Write down or record the following information relevant to the accident:
– Drivers and passenger info
– Drivers and passenger info
– License plate numbers
– Insurance details
– Vehicle details
– Contact info for any eyewitnesses
– Location and circumstances leading to accident
5. See your GP Right Away
As mentioned previously, many injuries aren’t apparent or obvious after an accident. In fact, it could take days or weeks before a serious injury is discovered, well after you’ve filed your insurance claim.
Go see a doctor and make sure they know about any tenderness you’re feeling, especially regarding the spine or neck. If you wait too long or downplay these minor injuries, you could end up in worse shape from a hidden hairline fracture or embolism, for example.
Furthermore, obtaining a medical certificate is required in order to commence a claim for personal injuries arising from the motor vehicle accident. Be sure to include all injuries so that it cannot be doubted that you complained of them at the very first opportunity.
6. Make an Insurance Claim for property damage
Even if you’re not at fault, if you are insured you can and should make a claim with your insurance company for property damage to your vehicle and to cover any potential liability arising from the accident.
You may be required to pay excess to your insurer, but you’ll normally get it back if you are found to not be at fault.
Your insurer may also be able to reimburse you for your expenses and provide you with a hire car while your vehicle is being repaired. Read your insurer’s product disclosure statement, or ask them directly what they can provide you.
Whilst people almost never plan to have a motor vehicle crash, when it happens you need to be alert to the legal and medical issues that may be involved. It is important to immediately and check on everyone’s safety and well-being, and then gather information and evidence. You should then report the accident to the police and your insurance company. Remember that motor vehicle accidents can give rise to criminal and civil liability, and can also determine whether you are entitled to seek damages.