A car accident can be a scary and nerve-rattling experience, regardless of who is at fault. However, there are steps you can take immediately after the incident to ensure you don’t come off second best.
1. Don’t panic
If you’re involved in an accident, chances are your mind will be all over the place. By staying calm and collected, you’ll be able to keep in control of the situation and avoid further damage or injury.
Immediately after an accident:
- Turn off your engine and activate your hazard lights.
- If you are in a middle lane, park your vehicle on the left-hand side of the road so other vehicles can continue to pass.
- Check to see if anyone is injured and call 000 if needed.
- Keep off the road and warn bystanders to do the same.
2. To call or not to call the police
While the rules differ in each state, the Victorian position is that you should call Victoria Police immediately if:
- A person has been injured
- There is damage to property or livestock
- The owner is not at the scene
The NSW Police Force have released this handy glovebox information card that helps you deal with your requirements in the case of an accident. It specifies that you should call them immediately if:
- Anyone is trapped or injured
- Police are needed to direct traffic or deal with hazards
- Any drivers appear affected by alcohol or drugs
- A bus or truck needs to be towed
- If anyone has failed to exchange details
In other states, call 000 or your state RAC for 24/7 assistance.
3. Gather all possible details
To ensure your insurance claim is processed as fast as possible, it helps to gather as much information as you can at the scene of the accident, including:
- The other driver(s) licence details.
- The other vehicle(s) involved.
- Witness names and contact numbers.
- Photos of the damage on your phone.
4. Stand firm
After an accident, emotions may be running high and the other party may be demanding you accept fault. Insurance companies may refuse to pay claims for ‘at fault’ drivers, so it’s important not to concede blame in order for your claim to have grounds. Insurance companies will gather the facts and evidence, and make their own deductions as to how the accident occurred, who was responsible and whether other factors were involved, like speed or substance abuse.
By admitting fault, you not only disadvantage your claim, but you interfere with the course of the professional investigation.
5. Check your vehicle is roadworthy
It is an offence to drive an unroadworthy vehicle, so if you suspect your vehicle is not in a roadworthy condition following the accident, contact a tow company (which may be arranged through your insurance) and arrange an alternate means to your destination.
Having a practical ‘action plan’ in the event of an accident will help you stay calm, safe and legally protected. Ask your local RAC branch or check your state police website for a printable checklist you can keep in your glove box to help you cover all bases in the event of an accident.