A car accident is one of those events that are unexpected and certainly something that no one wants to experience. However, being prepared for such an event is a sensible approach to take for a motorist. Driving a car means taking a number of reasoned decisions based on both experience and learned behaviour.
What we cannot do is to predict how others may behave on the road although, if on the receiving end of a bump or crash, people may think they know what to do next. However, due to received shock, possible injury and the fact that the adrenaline is going to be rushing through the body, everything that happens next can be a bit of a blur.
Planning a checklist of the ten things of what to do next is part of being a sensible driver so let’s take a look at the first action required and remember there are some things you need to do regarding of who was at fault.
1. First things first
Switch off the car engine and if safe to do so and you are not injured, put on hazard warning lights and get out of the vehicle assisting passengers if required. Check for injuries before moving or assisting anyone else from the vehicle. If you are the driver and someone else is injured as a result of the accident, ensure that they receive medical attention as soon as possible. Remember, before assisting others make sure you are uninjured. In a serious incident if you have had first aid training, then give assistance where possible or get assistance from any bystanders or other motorists.
2. Remain at the scene and make it safe
Leaving the scene of an accident is an offence. Stay where you are and help protect the area by use of hazard warning signs, flashing lights etc. If you have to move a vehicle because it is blocking the highway for example, then do not attempt this by yourself. Take a photograph of the scene and any damage before moving a vehicle, even if just pushing it to one side of the road. This information can be used later as evidence for insurance claims or to send to a car accident lawyer. If you can see any fuel leaking from vehicles, make sure that all drivers and passengers stand well away from the accident area, extinguish any cigarettes or items that could cause a spark and get any injured people out of their vehicles.
3. Contact the relevant authority
If you think someone is hurt (including yourself) then contact the emergency services. The medics will assess the scene and they are responsible for the wellbeing of those involved in the accident. Even if you feel you have not suffered any injuries, be aware that whiplash to the neck and spine can cause problems in the time period after even just a small bump or shunt. If others have been injured or there is damage to property (such as intersection barriers or bollards, for example) or livestock have been involved, then contact the police. The police will be able to make safe the accident site and take down relevant witness statements which may then be required if this goes to court.
4. Exchange details
Usually if the police are involved, they will ask to see all the relevant insurance documents plus a driving licence. It is important that drivers do exchange details including, where possible, the name, address and registration details of the other drivers involved. Also contact telephone numbers should be made available along with noting the vehicle make, its type and colour. It is also important to ask for details of their insurance company as well and to have details of yours handy at the same time.
5. Make a record
A lot of things will go by in a bit of a blur but try to write out exactly what happened from your point of view. As noted before, if you can use your smartphone to take a picture of any damage or position of the vehicles, then do so. If there are witnesses to the event, make sure that the police are aware, and they will interview and hold a statement of what happened. You need to keep a file of all the accident documentation in one place including the police report number, receipts of all expenses including medical costs and repair work, and any rental car costs if your vehicle is out of action. Also the names and registration details of anyone involved in the car accident plus witness information and any notes or photographs you have taken. This sort of information is very pertinent and is needed by your insurance company.
6. Contact insurance provider
Get in touch with your car insurance company as soon as possible so they can advise you on the next step in terms of your insurance claims.
7. Check for crash for cash claimants
This is an increasing area of concern in the insurance and legal sector where accidents are deliberately staged. Their remit is to make fraudulent insurance claims and they use a variety of tactics like taking out their brake lights bulb so that you run into the back of them. They blame you for the accident and have information on their insurance company, often already written down, to hand out to you. Then you get a letter from their insurance company with accident details on, (the claims made can be exaggerated from whiplash injuries to others that haven’t happened to car hire costs or recovery vehicle costs). This is where keeping your own record and checks are going to be very important but if you suspect a scam then call your car accident lawyer.
8. Speak to car accident lawyer
If you are suffering from injury that impacts on your ability to work or carry out day to day tasks as a result of a car accident it is important to call your car accident lawyer. If the insurance company are saying that your car is going to be a write off and the money you get back is not going to cover all the costs it is always best to speak to a professional lawyer who has experience in car accidents to see what can be done to recover your costs.
9. Car valuations and repair
Even for small bumps ensure that you get your vehicle checked out by your local garage. You might need to get wheels rebalanced or there may be damage to the chassis that you have not picked up on. All of this information and any costs should be kept and passed onto the insurance company or your car accident lawyer. Get any repairs carried out so that your motor vehicle insurance is not invalid.
10. Consider fitting safety technology
Finally, consider fitting safety cameras or other motor vehicle safety technology such as audio sensors, lane departure warning system, AEB braking which may help reduce the risk of an accident happening again.
Accidents are hard to avoid so printing out and keeping a copy of these post-accident checklist will help make sure you are covered when you need to speak with your insurers and your car accident lawyer.