Accidents Happen: What To Do When They Do?
A car accident can happen in a split second and knowing what to do will help you.
Being involved in a car accident is nobody’s idea of a good time, it’s a horrible experience that can leave you shocked, emotionally drained, financially strained or by far the worst, injured.
Despite the emotional roller-coaster you can, or rather will experience in the immediate aftermath of an accident, even a small one, you must stay calm. That’s why ClickaCar has put together our list of 7 easy steps which you need to keep in mind if you’re ever in an accident.
1. Don’t Panic
This sounds simple enough but many people panic when involved in an accident, even a small bumper bashing. Going into a state of panic can cause you to lose focus, miss something important, cause further injury or guide your actions which could see you act out aggressively.
If you do feel panic setting in, stay in the car, assess the situation, look around you and get a complete overview of the situation. If you are injured, assess your injury and ask yourself if moving could risk further injury.
If everything is fine and you can move, get out of the car and approach the other driver respectfully, regardless of who is in the wrong. In the same way that you were emotional, so too is the other driver and acting out aggressively could negatively elevate the situation.
Finally, never admit or assign blame at the scene. Apologise to calm the situation if necessary but try to keep as much communication as possible focused on getting the other driver’s details and assessing the situation.
2. Don’t Move Anyone Who is Injured
The next thing you need to do is check if anyone is injured. If anyone is injured, don’t move them unless they are in a dangerous situation. Moving an injured person runs the risk of causing further injury.
Once you have identified the injured person/people, you can proceed to help them. Only do this if you know how to or you have been trained in First Aid. Regardless of your training, make sure that you contact emergency services immediately.
3. Move the Vehicles
If no one is injured and your vehicle can move, you are allowed to move it if it is blocking traffic. Park your car on the side of the road then attend to the matter at hand.
4. Take Down All the Details
Once you have assessed the situation and tried your best to assist anyone who is injured, it’s time to take down all the details. Make sure that you get everything you can and take photos wherever possible. To make it easier, make sure you get these details:
- The driver’s name and surname.
- Their ID number and driver’s licence number (best to ask them for this and then write it down yourself and take a photo).
- Ask for their insurance provider and proof of insurance if possible.
- Their mobile phone number, and after they give it to you, dial the number and see if their phone rings.
- Take a photo of the other vehicle's registration plates (front and back to ensure they match) and the licence disc.
- Note the model and colour of all the cars involved.
- Takedown the name of the street where it happened, closest house numbers and/or corner with another street.
- Write down the time of day and weather conditions.
5. Don’t Get Towed
After an accident, you will be approached by tow trucks and in many cases, tow truck drivers have been able to help people on the scene.
What you need to look out for is anyone offering to tow your car or making you sign release forms without letting you read the fine print. Some owing companies do this without informing you where your car is being taken, only to surprise you with storage fees days, if not months later.
Whatever you do, don’t let anyone tow your car without your permission, a business address, and information regarding the cost. Phone your insurance or the AA if you are a member and let them assist you instead.
6. Reporting the Accident
Once you have taken all the details, assessed the situation and cleared what can be cleared, you will need to open a case with the police. In some instances, the police at the scene may take your statement, but it’s always best to report the accident to the police station nearest to the scene within 24 hours. Make sure that you report the accident yourself. Don't let anyone else report the accident and even if the other driver says they will, you need your own case number.
At the police station, you will be asked to fill out an accident report form where you will describe how the accident happened, where it happened, who was involved etc.
Once you have completed the accident report, you will be issued a case number.
7. Contact Your Insurance
Once you have a case number, contact your insurance company and give them the case number and any details they may request.
If the other driver who was involved contacts you, do not answer any questions and ask them to refer the matter to their insurance company. If they do not have insurance, inform them that your insurance will be taking care of the matter. As a precautionary measure, it's beneficial to have a lawyer available if the other driver becomes aggressive, makes threats or demands financial compensation outside of the legal channels.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, being involved in an accident can be emotional, but remaining level headed will help you come through it and get you back on the road. Finally, just as a last bit of advice, consider buying a DashCam, these have become invaluable in cases involving motor vehicle accidents and will help if you are ever involved in one.