An accident when driving can occur at any moment. You may assume that because you are a fantastic driver you will not have an accident. Wrong. Even the best driver in the world can be hit by a rogue driver. Not everybody on the road has a licence to drive. Not everyone will be in a fit state to drive. And, worst of all, some people will deliberately cause an accident to claim injury compensation from YOUR insurance.
So what is the best way to deal with an accident?
1. Safety. Your first priority is to ensure you and your passengers are not hurt in any way. If so, immediately call the emergency services and give them an exact location. If possible, get help nearby from someone who may be medically trained. Get yourself to a place of safety as soon as possible. Do not wander around a live busy carriageway.
2. Witnesses. Get people who may have stopped to look to give you their recollection of what just happened. Then ask them for their names and telephone numbers. If you can, write down THEIR vehicle registration (if they were in one) as this can prove useful if they’ve given a wrong phone number by mistake.
3. Photographs. Take photographs of damage to your car. The other person’s car and any other property damaged. Even a picture of the location can be useful as it will help when going through the insurance company. Street locations signage indicating priorities and weather can be useful when insurers have to assess a claim. If you have in-car CCTV make sure it has locked the footage. Take pictures of any injuries (if appropriate) and… the really useful one… take a picture (I suggest subtly) of the other driver as scammers may fake details later on. Some people may give false names to make bogus claims. Some people will even add extra passengers in their car (on their insurance claim) to claim personal injuries for more people than were actually there.
4. Swap Insurance details. In most countries, as in the UK, it is a legal requirement to swap insurance details at an accident. You need to give your name, phone number or address or the details of your insurance company as well as your vehicle registration. Never admit any fault, even if you think it may be your fault. You are not in the correct state of mind to make these decisions.
5. Report the accident. In some countries, like in the UK, you should report any accident that involved injury or damage to another person’s property including damage to ‘street furniture’ such as streetlights, walls or signage. Not doing this within the specified time frame may render you liable to prosecution for separate offences. Check with local law enforcement agencies as soon as you can to protect yourself. If you suspect the other person may have been driving illegally (I.e drunk) call the Police immediately as once the person has left the scene it may be hard to prove they were guilty of such an offence. Also, this may assist you with your claim through the insurance company.
6. Check your vehicle. If possible move your vehicle to a place of safety and see if it can still be driven. DO NOT attempt to drive it if looks like it is un-roadworthy – get it towed.
7. Report the accident to your insurers as soon as possible. This is usually a part of the policy and failure to report it quickly may render it void.
8. If it was a very frightening accident and you feel scared to drive again afterwards seek help from a qualified diving instructor. That’s what they’re there for. You can quickly build up your confidence again.