Once the initial shock has subsided after you are involved in car accident, you may have dozens of questions running through your head. What should you do first? Who should you call? What should you do with your car?
This is what you need to do when you are involved in an accident:
- Stay calm. Emotions run high at the scene of an accident. Remaining calm and collected could help you to avoid making expensive or dangerous mistakes in the aftermath.
- Call for help. Call an ambulance and the police if there are any injuries. Your insurer’s emergency roadside assist can help with that and should be available 24/7. You will also need to call the police if an offence has been committed (for example, drunken driving) or if a state vehicle or property has been damaged.
- Make sure your car is still safe to drive. Check on the state of your car. Is it safe to drive and will it get you home or to the nearest police station? Sometimes the answer is obvious, but if you aren’t entirely sure, rather play it safe and contact your insurer’s towing services.
- Let your insurer know about the accident immediately. Towing reports can take time and speaking to your insurer directly will help speed up the process. Share all the information, the Police case number and any pictures you were able to gather from the scene, arming them with all the information that will help the process move forward as quickly and painlessly as possible.
- Use your phone to take some pictures. Take as many photos as you can – of your own car and also any other vehicles or property involved. This includes number plates, licence disks, street names or any other landmarks close by. Ask any other driver involved for photos of their driver’s licences.
- Get contact details. Take down the names and contact details of any and all witnesses, as well as other parties involved in the incident. This will help you if you feel the accident was the fault of another individual and you want your insurer to help you recover your excess.
- Check for CCTV cameras. Check whether there are any cameras pointed at the scene. Remember to take a picture of them to note their location.
- Report the accident to the police within 24 hours. If someone was injured or a third party or their property (including domestic animals) was involved, report the incident to the police within 24 hours. This is a legal requirement. Jot down the case number and ensure that you take pictures of the completed report right then and there.
This is what you should NOT do when involved in an accident:
- Do not move people who are injured. If there are any injured people on the scene, do not move them. This could put them at more risk, so rather wait until professional help arrives.
- Do not leave the scene without an all-clear from the police. If there are injuries, if an offence has been committed or if state property has been damaged, stay on site until a police officer has dismissed you. Do not move your vehicle unless you are told to do so by the police or it poses a safety hazard to other people on the road.
- Do not use the first tow-truck that appears on the scene, even if they claim to be from your insurer. If your car is not driveable, call your insurer’s emergency line (or access it via their App), ask for towing assistance and make sure they tell you how to identify the tow-truck you should be using.