Being in a car accident can be a very upsetting and scary experience – whether you are the driver, passenger, or pedestrian passing by. If you are ever in a car accident, you should try your best to remain as calm as possible so you can deal with the situation effectively. Below, we will cover some guidelines to follow should you ever need to. It is important to be aware of what is expected from you after a car accident, as failing to exchange the correct details can lead to legal repercussions.
What to do immediately after a car accident
If you are in a car accident, you should follow these steps straight after:
• Pull over and turn off the engine – it is an offence if you fail to do this.
• Turn on your hazard lights to warn other road users.
• Check for injuries on yourself and any passengers.
• Make sure that anyone else involved in the accident is ok.
• If your car is not safe to be nearby, move to the nearest safe place away from your car.
• Call 999 if anyone is injured. The police should be called if anyone is injured, and an ambulance may be required for medical assistance.
• You should also call the police if there is a vehicle causing an obstruction on the road.
• Make note of the details of everyone involved in the accident.
• Ask any witnesses for their details.
• Do not admit any guilt for the accident, even if you believe that you may be at fault.
• If you are able to, collect any videos or photos of the cars involved as well as the condition of the road.
• Get into contact with your insurance company.
To summarise, make sure that everyone is safe and well before you do anything else. Take steps to ensure everyone’s safety, even the other involved party. You can then begin collecting any relevant information and exchanging details with anyone else involved.
Legal requirements after a car accident
You may not be aware that Section 130 of The Road Traffic Act requires you to stop if you have been involved in an accident. If you fail to do so, there may be worse repercussions than if you had stopped and exchanged details in the first place.
It is a legal requirement for you to stop and, if required, exchange details with anyone involved.
What information to collect and exchange
We recommend that you gather as much information as possible, even if you do not intend on making a claim. By collecting information, you are protecting yourself should the other party involved make a claim against you. Here are some of the pieces of information that you should collect and exchange, immediately following the accident:
Information to collect:
• Name, address, vehicle registration and insurance details of everyone involved.
• Make a note of the time and date of the accident.
• If the police were called, they will provide you with a case reference number.
• Take photos and/or videos of any damage to all vehicles involved.
• Take photos of the condition of the road, especially if it is damaged.
• Make a note of the weather if it affected the road conditions.
• Note down the quality of the road, i.e. potholes.
• You may find it helpful to sketch the scene, detailing the directions of travel of all vehicles involved.
• Note down the make, model and colour of all vehicles involved.
• Take photos of any damage that existed before the accident, if relevant. For example, missing mirrors.
• Make a note of any speed limit signs, road markings, etc.
• Ask any witnesses if they are prepared to provide you with their contact information.
Information to exchange:
• Your name
• Vehicle Registration Number
• Insurance Details
Reporting the accident to the police
The police are not always needed at the scene of a car accident. If no one involved has been hurt and there is no obstruction in the road, it can be settled quickly between everyone involved in the accident. If the police are not needed at the scene of a car accident, exchanging details is sufficient.
However, if you do not exchange details for whatever reason, the accident must be reported at your local police station within 24 hours. If you do not do this, then you may face a driving ban or receive points on your license.
Never admit fault
At the scene of the car accident, you should never admit any guilt or fault, even if you believe that you caused the accident to happen. Even if you think that you are at fault, this may not be the case legally. You may be in shock and unable to make a good judgement over who is at fault. You may also not have all the information or be aware of all the circumstances that lead to the accident.
If you wrongly admit that you are at fault, you are taking on the responsibility for the accident and this can affect your ability to recover any costs or compensation you may later make a claim for.
What to do when you can’t find the owner
In some car accidents, the other car owner may not be inside or nearby the car. For instance, if you collide with a parked car. In this case, you should leave your details on the car for the owner to easily find when they return.
Reporting the accident to your insurance company
Even if you do not intend on making a claim, you should still contact your insurance company to let them know about the car accident, as soon as possible. The reason why you should do this is that the other party involved may make a claim without telling you. Failing to let your insurance company know in good time may invalidate your policy.
Before contacting your insurance company, make sure that you have the following information available to you:
• Your policy number.
• Car registration.
• The other party’s name, address, and contact information.
• The other driver’s insurance details.