Just Been in a Car Accident? Here’s What to do Next…
Being involved in a car accident or crash is a frightening and stressful experience, and it can be very difficult to think straight afterwards or know the right steps to take.
Here we’ve put together everything you need to know to help you take control of the incident and make sure your rights are fully protected, no matter which side of the accident you were on.
The first and most important thing following an accident is to stop your vehicle and get it somewhere safe. Try and get it off the road if you can so it’s not a hazard to other road users, but if it’s heavily damaged and potentially unsafe to drive, it’s usually better not to try and move it. Make sure you turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers.
You also need to check if you or anyone else at the scene is injured. If someone is – or if there were any pregnant women, young children or elderly involved in the accident – you need to call 000 for an ambulance.
If the accident was serious, it’s a good idea to call an ambulance even if no one looks injured or is showing any signs or symptoms. Most of us would not be able to tell if someone had internal injuries, so it’s always better to be safe.
To Report or Not to Report
You must call the police on 000 and report the car accident if it meets any of the following criteria:
Someone is injured or dead
A driver involved in the crash fails or refuses to provide their required details to the other parties
Drugs and/or alcohol is suspected to have been involved
A vehicle involved in the crash is towed
Property other than a vehicle is damaged to the value of $2500 or more
If the accident is reportable, you have up to 24 hours to make the report. So if your vehicle is safe to drive, you can take it home and report the accident at a later time at your local police station or by calling Policelink on 131 444. But if it was a serious accident and there is significant damage and/or injuries, you need to report it immediately so that police can arrive at the scene and take control of the situation.
If it’s not reportable, make sure everyone involved has moved their vehicles to a safe location off the road, and exchange details.
All parties involved in the accident need to exchange the following details:
Name and address
Name and address of the owner of the vehicle (if you are not the owner)
Vehicle identification details (registration, make, model, colour, etc.)
It’s also a good idea to come to an agreement on the time and place of the accident, for any future paperwork.
You don’t have to provide your driver’s licence, telephone number or insurance details to any of the other parties, although doing so will usually speed up the insurance process further down the track. It’s up to you how much information you provide. However you should be aware that if the police are called to the scene, you will have to provide any details they require and may also have to take a breath test.
Call a Tow Truck
If your vehicle is seriously damaged, you should call a tow truck to come and remove it from the scene. You are not obliged to have your vehicle towed, but use your judgement and common sense to decide whether it’s necessary.
You can use any trusted towing company of your choice, and tow truck drivers cannot tow your vehicle from an accident site without a towing authority signed by you. Police also cannot nominate which company you must use, so it is really entirely up to you. At TOW we provide fast and reliable accident and smash towing to get your damaged vehicle off the road and to a safe location as quickly as possible.
Something important to keep in mind: Don’t take your vehicle or have it towed to any place for repairs following the accident. You should speak with your insurance provider before you authorise any major repairs, in case they have arrangements with particular mechanics or repair shops. It will also ensure any repair costs you are entitled to will be covered.
Make an Insurance Report
Report the accident to your insurance provider to find out what you should do next. They will instruct you in relation to organising repairs and lodging a claim, and will generally require the following details:
Name, contact details and driver’s licence numbers of the owner and driver of the other vehicles involved
Details of your car
Details of the other car/s, including registration number, colour, make and model
The insurance details of the other drivers involved
A summary of the accident, including when and where it happened
Having this information on hand will help speed up in the insurance process, but if you don’t have something in particular your insurance provider will still be able to chase it up. Getting as much information as you can at the scene of the accident will make the whole process much easier.
If you don’t have car insurance, it may be a good idea to seek independent legal advice about who is responsible for the cost of repairs.
Dos and Don’ts
Take photos of any vehicle damage and other important details for a reliable record of what occurred, or mark the damage on a diagram.
Take down the names and contact numbers of any witnesses to the accident.
Write down or draw your interpretation of the accident scene for the insurance report and/or police statement.
Admit you are at fault, even if you think you are. This decision is best left to the insurers.
Argue with the other driver/s. Accident situations are already extremely tense and stressful, so it’s important that you keep calm and try not to get emotional. If the other driver is acting aggressively or abusively, call 000 and request assistance from police.