You hope being involved in a car accident will never happen to you – you take all possible precautions to avoid a car accident but sometimes, no matter what you do, it just isn’t enough. A careless driver could crash into you. An unexpected pothole in the road could cause you to lose control of your car.
Regardless of what caused the car accident, being involved in one can be terrifying. More often than not, people involved in a car accident struggle to think rationally about what to do next. Most people have knee-jerk reactions. Unfortunately, the wrong actions can make a bad situation worse.
We’ve put together a list of things of what to do in a car accident in order to protect your legal rights and make sure your insurance claim gets paid without too much delay.
What To Do Immediately After A Car Accident
- Stop the car immediately, no matter how minor you think the accident is.
- Switch the engine off.
- Turn the hazard lights on to alert other road users to your stationary presence.
- Check for any injuries to yourself or your passengers in the car accident. If anyone is injured, the first priority is to call an ambulance. Even if the injuries don’t seem that bad, whiplash, like other injuries, can sometimes take hours or even days to develop symptoms, even if the initial injury didn’t seem severe.
- If none of the occupants of your car is seriously injured, get out of the car when safe to do so and take stock of the situation.
- Get photographs of the scene of the accident if it’s safe to do so, the damage to your vehicle, and injuries sustained by all occupants of your vehicle.
- Also, get photographs of the damage to any other vehicles involved so other parties cannot make false claims about the extent of the damage done at a later time.
- Contact your insurance company and report the accident. They may be able to help you with the claims process and advise you on how to proceed.
What If The Other Driver Leaves The Scene Of The Car Accident?
If the other driver leaves the scene of the accident, it’s also important to:
- Note down any details you can remember about the other vehicle, such as the registration number, make, model and colour of the vehicle, and the direction in which they were travelling.
- Call the police and report the hit-and-run accident as soon as possible. Provide them with as much information as you can about the incident.
Importantly, under section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, if a driver leaves the scene of a car accident without leaving their details or reporting the accident after causing a personal injury to another person or damage, it is a criminal offence. If the other driver is caught, they may face serious penalties, including fines, points on their license, and even imprisonment.
What NOT To Do Immediately After A Car Accident
It’s equally important to avoid doing certain things after a car accident.
- Don’t lose your temper and argue with the other driver if you have collided with another vehicle. Even if the other driver was at fault, arguing will not resolve anything. In fact, it will likely only inflame what may be an already tense situation. Stay calm and think about what you need to do.
- Don’t admit responsibility for the car accident, even if you think you were partially at fault at the time. Saying anything that even implies you’re responsible for the accident could make things difficult for you later on and may impact your ability to make a claim for damages.
- Don’t apologise for the accident. Apologising may be seen as an admission of guilt and could go against you later on. It could cost you the right to claim car accident compensation even if you were not actually at fault.
- Don’t lie.
When To Call The Police After A Road Traffic Accident
It is always advisable to call the police after any road traffic accident. Whether you call the police on 999 or 101 depends on the circumstances.
- Call the police on 999 as soon as possible in case of a major collision or if the accident is blocking the road.
- As mentioned above, you should also call 999 if there is another driver involved who leaves the scene of the accident without exchanging their details with you, or if you think the other driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Do you suspect another driver involved in the crash intentionally caused the accident? Unfortunately, some other drivers are known to do this in order to cash in on fraudulent insurance claims. These ‘crash for cash’ scams have become common over the past few years. If you suspect you were a victim of a crash for cash scam, call 999.
- The offending driver doesn’t have insurance? That may also warrant a 999 call.
- If the accident does not require an emergency police response, call the police on 101 instead.
For whatever reason, if the police are not called to the scene of a serious car accident, you should go to the police station within 24 hours and report the accident. Failing to do this may result in a fine or penalty points. In a worst-case scenario, your driving licence could be revoked.
It’s Time To Record Details and Exchange Information
Once you’ve ensured that all occupants in your vehicle are okay, you should then attend to other post-accident formalities.
- Make a note of the date and time of the crash, and driving conditions at the time of the crash. Driving conditions include the weather, lighting and condition of the road. If you notice anything unusual, make a note of that too.
- Get photographs of any other vehicles involved in the accident. The photographs should clearly show the position of the vehicles at the time of impact. Get plenty of photographs from different angles. Photos can help you remember crucial details if you decide to pursue a car accident compensation claim.
- Write down the make, model, colour and registration number of each vehicle involved along with detailed notes describing the damage caused to each.
- Make a note of the injuries sustained by the drivers and passengers of all vehicles.
- Get the names and contact details of any witnesses to the accident.
- Exchange insurance information with the other drivers.
- If the driver of another vehicle that collided with you is not the registered owner of the vehicle, make sure to go through any available documents to determine who the owner is. Make a note of the vehicle owner’s details.
Informing Your Car Insurer – Know The Formalities
It is advisable to always inform your car insurance company if you are involved in an RTA. This is regardless of whether or not you intend to make a claim.
Once you’ve informed your insurance company, they will take over and let you know what to do. Your insurance company will also get in touch with the insurance companies of other people involved in the accident. It is your insurance company’s responsibility to contact and work with the other insurance companies to resolve any insurance claims.
What You Should Know About Withholding Information
All drivers involved in any car accident are legally required to share their personal details with the other driver. It is illegal to withhold information if a person or animal is injured or killed in the accident or if there is any vehicle or property damage. Remember, this exchange of information applies to you as much as it applies to other drivers who have been involved in a car accident.