What to do after an accident
Being in a car accident is often a jarring experience, leaving us shaken and a little unsure of what to do. It is important to be prepared and aware of the steps that should be taken following an accident, regardless of how minor the collision may seem.
Make sure everyone is okay
If someone needs urgent medical attention or the accident has resulted in a hazard for others, call 000 immediately. For incidents involving less serious injuries or damage to the property of an absent third party, local police should be contacted via a non-urgent line. Once everyone has been taken care of and if it is safe to do so, the cars involved should be moved off the road to prevent further injury and hazard.
Exchange contact details
Anyone involved in an accident must provide their name and address, the rego number of the car involved, as well as the name of the owner of the vehicle and their address – remember that the person driving the car may not be the owner, or the insured party. It may also be a good idea to collect the name of the other party’s insurance company.
If someone is unwilling to cooperate, take note of their license plate number or take a photo of the car and plates. It is also a good idea to collect contact details from anyone who witnessed the accident.
Take pictures of the scene
Take pictures of the scene, any relevant surrounding street signs or markings, the vehicles involved and their number plates, and any specific damage to your car or anyone else’s car or property. These photos may be of help to you later on.
Should you drive your car away?
It is crucial to make sure your car is roadworthy and safe before attempting to drive away from the accident. Check for damage to the car’s safety systems. If airbags have been deployed or the seatbelts have been effected and no longer seem to be working properly, do not drive. If any safety-related lights remain on when the engine is running, it’s not safe to proceed.
Similarly, if there is any damage to the wheels or suspension, this could cause steering failure. Flat tyres and smashed windscreens are easy to spot, but you must also be wary of damage to the cooling system – look under the car to see if large amounts of fluid are leaking as overheating can cause major damage to your engine. If you have the slightest doubt about your vehicle, it’s safer to arrange a tow truck and find alternative way home.
Talk to your insurer
Contact your insurer to let them know what’s happened. They will talk you through what the best course of action will be depending on the amount of damage and the level of coverage you have.
It’s hard to think straight after you’ve been in an accident. With adrenaline racing and panic setting in, it’s easy to forget what to do, ask or take note of. It’s a good idea to keep a checklist of these steps should an accident occur. This will ensure your nerves do not compromise your position and safety following an accident.