The few minutes after being in an accident are crucial, yet post-accident brain fog can make it difficult to keep your wits about you.
An effective way to ensure that you look after your best interests in a post-accident situation is to commit important details to memory now. That way, if you’re unlucky enough to be involved in a traffic accident, the correct handling of the situation will come naturally to you. Here’s what you need to do, both roadside and beyond.
Even if you hardly felt the bump, you are obliged by law to stop your car after you have been involved in a vehicle incident. This blanket rule applies across the board, from a write-off to a minor incident. Switch off your vehicle’s engine and pop the hazard lights on to let other drivers know that you are stationary.
Numbers to Keep on Speed Dial
First things first: is anybody hurt? If so, ring the police and the ambulance immediately. You should also let the police know if any of the vehicles involved in the incident have come to rest in a position that obstructs traffic flow, as they will need to arrange for its removal so that other drivers can continue to use the road safely. Another important reason to call the police is if you have a feeling that you’ve been a victim of a slam-on or crash-for-cash scam. If you’ve hit the other car in the rear because they hit the brakes suddenly for no obvious reason, it is worth reporting this to the police to prevent a fraudulent insurance claim being made against your policy.
Get Your Camera Out
Even if you have a photographic memory, you should take photos at the scene, as they may be helpful as evidence when you get home and phone your insurer. To decide who is at fault, your insurer will appreciate evidence of the damage to both vehicles, the positions in which the vehicles came to rest, as well as other factors such as weather conditions. Bonus if you have dash-cam footage. If you were not at fault, the sooner you are able to provide ready evidence, the sooner your insurer can assign a non-fault liability decision to your case. This means less time off the road for you. In a non-fault situation, you are entitled to an accident replacement vehicle at the ‘at-fault’ insurer’s expense while yours is off the road.
Provide Your Details
While you wouldn’t want to go around handing out your contact details and vehicle registration to strangers under normal circumstances, when you’ve just been in an accident is one time when this is appropriate. In fact, it is your legal obligation to provide the other parties with your full name and address. While you probably won’t need reminding of this at the roadside because the other driver will have a similar obligation, many people forget this rule when they’re involved in an accident without another driver being involved. For example, if you hit a parked car in a parking lot, you’re obliged to leave a note with your name and contact details for the owner of the other vehicle.
Note Down Other Parties’ Details
If you’ve been in an accident, it is crucial that you take down the other driver’s name, address and vehicle registration number. If you forget to take down their phone number, it’s not the end of the world, as the other details you have taken will give your insurance company enough to go on. But before you do, it’s worth asking whether the driver of the vehicle is the registered keeper of the car. If not, you’ll need to take their details as well as the name and address of the person who owns the car for insurance purposes. If anyone else was involved, like passengers or witnesses, it’s worth taking their details as well, as your insurance company may ask. You should also take the name of the police officer who comes to the accident scene, if the police are called. You shouldn’t encounter problems in the exchanging of details, but some people do get touchy, especially if they are at fault for the accident. If the other driver is not forthcoming with their details, you can gently remind them of their obligation, but this is a situation in which you should be on guard for charges of aggravated assault. In the event that someone who was involved in the accident leaves the scene without handing over their name address, you should call the police.
Nobody expects that they will be in a vehicle accident, but they do happen. If you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself at the roadside following a crash, these tips will help you keep a clear head and do the right thing.