What To Do After a Car Accident
Accidents often occur completely unexpectedly, and when they do, everything seems to happen incredibly quickly. It’s common to go into shock, panic and worry about (or even forget) what you should do next, so we’ve put together a list of what you should do in the unfortunate event of an accident.
Step One- Stop the Car
The first thing you should do when you’re involved in a car accident is stop and turn off your engine as you’re committing an offence if you don’t. You are required by law (section 170 of Road Traffic Act 1988) to stop your vehicle at the scene of an accident. If it is not safe to stop your car immediately, you should find the nearest refuge area to pull into and stop. Ensure you put your hazard lights on, and use your hazard triangle (if necessary) in order to alert other road users that there has been an incident.
Step Two- Check for Injuries and Call 999 (if necessary)
Depending on the severity of the accident, someone may be injured as a result of the crash. Check for injuries on yourself first and then on your passengers. After that ensure that no one in the other vehicle or anyone else (pedestrians, bystanders etc) is injured. If it was only a minor accident and there are no injuries, make a note of this in case the other party claims differently after the event.
If there are serious injuries that require immediate medical attention, you should call an ambulance and the police. You should also inform the police if
- The other driver leaves the scene without giving you their details
- You believe that the other driver is uninsured
- You think that there may be alcohol or drugs involved
- The accident is causing a blockage in the road
- You suspect the collision was a deliberate act
Step Three – Exchange Details
Everyone involved in an accident should give their details to the other driver or drivers. You are required by law to exchange details with the drivers of the vehicles involved, including the names and addresses of both the driver and the vehicle owner (unless they are the same). Failure to do so is classed as an offence. Even if you hit something off the road (eg a parked car) you should stop and leave your contact details.
When you’re collecting details, you should never admit that the accident was your fault. It might feel unnatural but do not apologise for the crash either. You may well be in a state of shock and not in a position to understand what’s happened. Anything you say, true or otherwise, could be used against you later when you make a claim.
Step Four – Record the Scene
It’s very important to get a good idea of the situation and remember it. Take photos of the scene around you, including your car and all the other vehicles involved and get close up shots of any damage. If you can, quickly sketch the positioning of the vehicles.
You should also make a note of:
- The make, model, colour and registration of the other vehicle
- The date and time of the accident
- The damage caused to either vehicle
- The road or street on which the accident occurred
- Any injuries sustained as a result of the accident
- The weather conditions at the time of the accident
All of this information can be incredibly useful to both the insurance company and the police.
Step Five – Contact Your Insurance Company
You should contact your insurer as soon as possible, providing them with all the details that you gathered at the scene of the accident. If you wish to proceed with a claim your insurance company will contact all other individuals involved to assess fault and liability in the claim. After you have informed your insurer, and if the accident has left your vehicle in an undriveable state, you will need to arrange for it to be removed from the scene.
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