What to do in the event of a car accident
Car accidents in general can be pretty traumatic experiences. Even if it’s just a minor bump or scrape from someone who’s gone into the back of you, and wasn’t concentrating when you were both stopped at the traffic lights. It still comes as a bit of a shock, because you don’t ever expect it to happen to you! Especially when you’re not the one at fault.
Sometimes it doesn’t always involve a person. You may have hit an animal or some public property such as a lamp post or sign. These are all still considered accidents and most of the time you are legally obligated to stop at the scene, and in a lot of cases contact the Police. So here’s what you should do if any of the above occur.
Road collisions involving other drivers
If you are involved in an accident with another driver, you must stop and ring the emergency services immediately. Depending on the severity of the crash, call an ambulance AND the Police. If you or any of the passengers with you at the time are hurt, they could require urgent medical attention. Usually, if such events were to happen, the chances are an eye-witness would have already done this. If the crash has caused debris to fall into the road which could be hazardous to other motorists, the Police can then corner off the road until this has been removed and it is safe to open again. If nobody in the car is hurt, proceed to carry out these steps.
- Try and move the vehicles to a safe place, switch off the engine and put your hazard lights on. (If you have a warning triangle, place this 45 metres away from the cars)
- If the crash is severe, or you suspect it could be a “crash-for-cash” scam – call the Police immediately
- Obtain information from the other driver involved including name, address, contact numbers, registration and insurance details.
- Obtain witness details for anyone who was present or saw the accident occur
- Take photos for of the damaged cars as evidence, along with any notes detailing where the accident happened, the road layout, and position/angle of your vehicle, as you will more than likely be asked to sketch these out by your insurer.
- Get in touch with your insurance company and make them aware of what has happened
Once your insurance company has been notified, they can then begin their investigation and get in contact with the other party’s insurer. It is best to provide as much information and evidence as possible so the insurer can establish who is at fault, and therefore decide which company needs to settle the costs of the claim and damages.
Did you know?
You should never admit liability at the scene of an accident, even if it was your fault. If you’re in an accident, your mind definitely won’t be in the right place so what you may think was your fault, might not have been. Take your time to process what has really happened, before automatically assuming it was your fault! If you admit liability at the scene of the accident, this could be used against you later when making a claim.
Accidents causing damage to public property
If you cause damage to a person’s property whilst driving, you are responsible for stopping at the scene and making the owner aware. Whether you have clipped a garden wall, scraped their car or even damaged council property such as a lamp post or road sign – you must still make whoever responsible aware of the accident. If the owner is not around at the time you should leave a note with your contact and insurance details so they can get in touch. If it is council property, you must get in contact with your local council and report the incident immediately.
If you do not feel you were at fault, and the cause of the accident was due to poor road conditions such as ice on the road, potholes, or poor road markings/signage – then you may be able to dispute the case when it comes to making a claim through your insurer. It is advised to take pictures of the road layout, the car, the position of the damaged object and anything else you believe could be used as evidence.
Making a claim
If you know 100% you were at fault for the incident, the chances are you will get billed for the costs – but your car insurance policy should pay out for this, as it is classed as “damage to third party vehicle or property”. Depending on the type of cover you have, you may be able to claim for the damage caused to your own car if you have a fully comprehensive policy. If you only have 'third party, fire and theft' - only the damage caused to the property or other vehicles will be covered, as well as a certain amount of medical expenses and legal liability.
Note that if the accident was your fault - your no claims could be affected if you do choose to go through your insurer and also push your premium up at renewal. We advise double checking the terms and conditions of your policy wording, as the definition of “protected no claims” can vary from each provider.