It’s easy to get overwhelmed after a car accident. But it’s important to stay calm and take the appropriate steps.
If you’re involved in a car accident, you need to know what to do when someone is injured, what you need from the other parties involved and when you should call emergency services. Following the right steps can minimise or prevent further injury, and help to mitigate potential financial or legal problems.
To help you out, here is a list of the things you should do after a car accident.
Stop your vehicle and stay calm
First and foremost, you need to stop your vehicle. Find a safe place to pull over that won’t block traffic and will keep the path clear for emergency vehicles. You should also put your hazard lights on.
You should stay calm and try not to panic. Take a moment to breathe and make sure you’re thinking clearly. Keeping a clear head during can prevent further injuries or complications.
Ensure everyone is okay
If you’re physically able to, check on everyone else to make sure that they’re okay. In Australia, if you’re in a car accident, you must stop and assist anyone that is involved.
If someone is hurt, do not move them unless they are in immediate danger. Call 000 as soon as possible and wait with the injured parties until help arrives.
Call emergency services as necessary
In some cases, it may not be necessary to call emergency services. For a minor scrape or fender bender, it’s enough to just stop, document the damage and exchange information with the other driver. Involving emergency services in such cases is unnecessary.
However, in many cases, calling emergency services is absolutely essential. You should always call 000 if a car accident involves:
- Serious personal injury
- Serious damage to the vehicles
- Drivers suspected to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol
- The other party refusing to give their details
- Disruptions or hazards to traffic flow
Remember that major accidents will have to be reported to the state police within 24 hours. An accident is considered ‘major’ if an individual was injured or killed, if a car was towed from the scene or if the estimated damages exceeds $3,000.
If the police arrive at the scene, they will interview the individuals involved as well as any witnesses. In some cases, they might also administer a drug and alcohol test. It is an offence to refuse this test.
Exchange details and note down important information
In Australia, it is also an offence to leave the scene of the accident without exchanging details with the other party. After a crash, ensure that everyone involved knows how to contact you. If the driver of the other car is not present (i.e. if you’ve crashed into a parked car), leave a note with your contact details.
On your side of things, make sure to note the date, time and location of the accident. It might even be helpful to note the details of any witnesses, the road and weather conditions as well as the speed that you were going in before the accident.
In terms of the other party, make note of their name, mobile number, address, registration number, vehicle model and insurance details. If emergency services were at the scene, it might be helpful to know of the names of the officers that attended.
Afterwards, take photos of the damage done to both vehicles. This can be used as evidence in case there are any disputes regarding where the fault is. It can also help with your insurance claims.
It’s important not to admit that the accident was your fault before an investigation has occurred. Your admission could be used against you as evidence in an insurance claim or in court.
Contact your insurer
After an accident, call your insurer as soon as you can. This will allow you to make a claim later if repair costs exceed your initial estimates.
Because of your duty of disclosure, you have to notify the insurer of any accident that has occurred. Even if you end up not making a claim, it’s still important to call your insurer as soon as possible.
Make sure you provide your insurer with as much information as possible.
Remember that insurance policies will exclude an individual who was speeding or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If an individual was involved in illegal behaviour such as driving without a licence, they will not be covered by the insurance policy. In addition, drivers who refuse to take a drug/alcohol test will also not be covered.
For personal injuries, there is a government organisation that pays the medical costs for individuals involved in car accidents. Insurance for such injuries are handled by the Transport Accident Commission.
Get your car towed and contact a smash repairer
If your car has been seriously damaged, it may require towing. In some cases, your insurer might be able help you with getting your vehicle towed.
After all of that, it’s time to contact a mechanic or smash repair company. If the car has only sustained cosmetic damage, then a panel beater should be able to handle the repairs. A good smash repair company will work with your insurance provider to make sure you get the best possible results.
It’s important to compose yourself after an accident has occurred. Thinking through the situation as best you can might prevent further complications from occurring. By knowing what to do after a crash, you could mitigate the financial impact of the accident and potentially save you from legal troubles.