What To Do After A Car Accident: A 5 Step Checklist
According to Budget Direct, 1,146 people died on the road in 2019 – averaging out to three people a day. While Australia has come far in terms of road safety, we still lag behind countries such as Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, and the UK that have significantly lower road mortality rates per 100,000 people. While we can all do our best to avoid accidents by driving more carefully and limiting distractions, the simple matter of fact is that accidents can happen anywhere, at any time. While we can take certain precautions to avoid them, we also have to brace ourselves for the event of them happening. Do you know what to do in an accident?
To help you prepare and get your ‘ducks in a row’ should the unlikely and unfortunate event of an accident occur, Novus shares what you should do immediately and in the short term after an accident. Continue reading because this might help you in the near future!
Before you dive in, have a read of the most common accidents people encounter on the road and how to prevent them!
Steps that Require Immediate Action
1. Ensure everyone is safe and keep calm
Always check for danger before making any movements. Even if the accident is minor, you should ensure you’re not putting yourself in harm’s way by exiting the car or tending to anyone. If it’s a major accident, check that there’s no fallen power lines or harmful debris around. Also, ensure you aren’t injured and check to see if anyone surrounding the accident has suffered injury.
Call emergency services (Triple 0) if you need to. Typically, you don’t need to call the police or paramedics if the crash is minor and no one is injured, or if there is only a small amount of damage to the car. If you have any concerns about the other driver’s state of mind, use your best judgement to decide where to contact the police.
While it’s a scary experience and you may not be able to think quickly, it’s important to try and keep calm. Also, avoid admitting fault – let the insurance company come to that conclusion.
2. Inspect the vehicles
After ensuring everyone is safe and doesn’t require emergency services, you can survey the damage. If you’re still on the road, stop and pull over if it’s safe to do so. Try to pull over in an emergency lane or area to avoid blocking traffic more than necessary. This is also a good idea if you need towing.
If there’s no visible damage or minimal scratching (obviously, an ideal scenario) then hopefully both parties can walk away without any disputes. However, if there is damage, it’s important to take photos right then and there. Make sure nothing is severely damaged for you to drive away safely – for example, ensure there are no gas leaks, no windscreen cracks, or other damage that might inhibit you from driving away in a safe manner.
3. Exchange details
This is a step that is trickier said than done when your mind is racing. The stress can make some of us forget what details we need, but bare in mind, you will need to exchange details if you plan on filing any reports or making an insurance claim to cover the damage. To make life a whole lot easier, here’s a list of details you’ll want to recover if you’ve been involved in an accent – it’s a good idea to screenshot this list for a later reference.
Grab the other driver’s…
- Full name
- Phone number
- Vehicle registration number
- Vehicle colour, make and model
If the driver isn’t the owner of the car, you’ll also need to find out the name, phone number and address of the car’s owner.
- The date, time, and location of the accident.
- A witness’ name and contact information (if possible)
- If police have attended the site of the crash – the name of a police officer, their station, and their contact details.
4. Talk to the emergency services if you need to
In some situations, you will definitely need to get into contact with emergency services. The criteria for calling the police in the event of a crash differs between states, but some of the standard criteria for calling police includes the following (call if one of the ‘police attendance criteria’ is met).
- Someone has died or people are injured
- There is a hazard to the environment (for example, a gas leak)
- The persons involved are showing signs of intoxication
- The persons involved are refusing to exchange details
- The driver needs police assistance if they are impaired or disabled
As mentioned, this is different across states. For example, in NSW, you only need to notify police when someone has died or is injured, details aren’t exchanged, or a driver is under the influence. Always check your state’s policies for specific information, and when in doubt, use your common sense. If you think something is suspicious or details are wrong, call the police. If there are any dangerous hazards, call the fire brigade. Or, call an ambulance if someone is injured.
In the Aftermath of Your Accident
5. Call your insurer if there is damage
Shortly following your accident – when you’ve had time to shake it off, you’ll want to get into contact with your car insurer to make a claim. If there is no damage, or minimal scratches, and the other driver hasn’t experienced damage and is not wanting to progress with any actions, you may not want to go through the process of lodging a claim. Remember, your insurance is there for a reason – if you need to make a claim, you should. That being said, sometimes it’s not worth it and making a claim can be more costly and more of a hassle in the long run.
If you are, however, making a claim, ensure you understand your policy – a handbook or document is usually sent to you once you update your policy each year. Have a read of this document to check your cover value and excess. If you have comprehensive insurance, your company should be able to take over any negotiations with the other driver and their insurance company. There should be agreements made on how much is to be paid and by whom depending on who is at fault. If you are not able to come to an agreement with the other driver then sometimes legal action is required. Obviously, this is the worst case outcome – most times an agreement is reached during the insurance claim investigation.
In the end, it’s best to make sure you’re doing the right thing on the road to cover yourself should an accident occur. Our best advice is to just be a safe driver. On top of this, there are some extra measures you can take to cover yourself.
- Use a Dash Cam. You can purchase dash cams for a relatively cheap price these days. They are great for providing an extra level of security for your car and they can be used as evidence for police reports and insurance claims.
- Know when to privately settle. If your car has been damaged in an accident and you estimate the cost of repair will be below or slightly above your excess, then it might work out better for both parties to settle the matter privately. However, if you can already tell the damage will cost more to repair, avoid being talked into a private settlement – how can you be certain this other driver will make the payment? Overall, if in doubt, go down the insurance road.
- Preparation is key. With so much adrenaline pumping through your body, you might find it hard to think or type. Take a couple of minutes and save important contacts in your phone right now. You might like to save the number for the police link (if your situation is not an emergency but you still need to make a police report) and a towing company in your state or area. You may also like to make a notes page with a list of your details that’s ready to be sent out to the other driver.
Getting back on track…
When you’re finally ready to hit the auto shop to get your car back to its former glory, make sure you’re tending to any chips or cracks your windscreen or windows have sustained by getting them serviced by a professional. Contact the best in the business at Novus Auto Glass to book in a repair or replacement and get you back on the road in no time. All of our replacements come with a lifetime warranty, so you know you’re getting the best service and most high quality products on the market. Call Novus on 13 22 34 or enquire online today.