It can be hard to think straight directly after a car accident, but there are some important steps you should take to protect yourself and others in the short and long term if you do have the unfortunate experience of being involved in an accident.
Create a safe environment and alert the police
The very first thing you should do after a car accident is checked to see if your passengers, the other driver/s, and any affected pedestrians are ok. Call an ambulance if anyone is critically injured.
If the accident was serious, you may require the assistance of the Police who can help to direct traffic away from the site or attend to the removal or mitigation of hazards caused by the accident. Depending on the severity of the crash, police may also be required to carry out an investigation as to the cause of the accident.
An investigation typically takes place if:
- the accident resulted in the death or serious injury of someone involved;
- one or more of the drivers is believed to have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- the property was damaged during the course of the accident; and/or
- one or more of the parties fails to stop or exchange information after the accident occurs.
The Police are not required to attend unless any of the above occur.
Take photos of the scene
Photo evidence is crucial to proving what has occurred after the accident or in some cases, what caused it. Photos are also very useful to the insurer who will be assessing your claim. If you deem it safe enough to do so, you should aim to take photos of the following from as many angles as possible:
- the whole scene in one shot, including all vehicles;
- any damage to your vehicle;
- any damage to property (public or private);
- any skid marks caused by the vehicle/s involved;
- visible injuries sustained by you and/or your passengers; and
- any road signs or traffic lights relevant to the scene.
Collect important details
The most important details you should take note of following a car accident are:
- the date, time, and location it occurred;
- the names and contact details of any other parties to the accident;
- the insurance details of those parties; and
- the make, model, and registration of their vehicles.
Witnesses can be helpful in piecing together how an accident happened and which party was at fault, so if witnesses were present you should also record their names and contact details as well as how they were involved in the accident (such as if they were the pedestrian, driver, or someone else nearby who saw what happened).
Contact your insurer
You should always make your insurer aware that you have been in an accident, even if it was not a serious one. Let them know the details you collected from the scene, including any photos or videos you took as evidence.
Any expenses incurred as a result of the accident, including medical and repairs, should be held on to in case you can be reimbursed by your insurer or the insurer of the other party or parties involved.
Seek medical attention (if required)
Any injuries sustained in the accident should be attended to immediately, even if they seem minor. Sometimes injuries can take hours or days to fully present themselves, so the sooner you have the advice of a medical professional the easier it will be to be treated.
Having your injuries recorded by a doctor (either at the emergency department of a hospital or your General Practitioner) is also important in case you need to make a claim for compensation in the future or require time off work to recover.
Engage a personal injury lawyer
After filing a claim with your insurer and attending to your medical needs you should engage the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
A personal injury lawyer will be able to help you maximise any claim you need to make and can ensure that all of the required documentation has been completed in full and lodged within any time limits.
If you have been in a car accident and need the assistance of a personal injury lawyer, we can help. We work on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, so that you do not pay anything upfront. Call our experienced lawyers on 07 40520 700.