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Reduce stress at the scene - what to do in a car accident


Being involved in a road traffic accident can be a stressful and distressing experience. Regardless of how the accident occurred or who was at fault, it’s important to protect your rights.

Not sure what to do after a car accident? This checklist can be used by drivers, passengers, pedestrians or cyclists involved in a motor vehicle accident to map out the steps needed to reduce stress and confusion and meet legal obligations.

What to do at the scene of an accident

Remain calm and assess your injuries. If you or your passengers don’t need immediate medical assistance, move your car out of traffic’s way and switch on your hazard lights. Sometimes among the commotion of an accident it can be easy to forget to collect certain details. Our checklist linked below sets out the key information you should record after a crash. You can save it to your phone or print it for your car to make sure you take note of essential details.

Click to open our car accident checklist

What to do in a car accident checklist

Details to collect at the scene

  • Date and time
  • Location
  • Names and contact details of drivers, passengers
  • Registration, make and model of vehicles involved
  • Insurers of drivers involved

Do I need witnesses?

Witnesses can be very important in helping determine what exactly has occurred and who is at fault. Especially if the parties involved can’t agree. If there are witnesses, you should record their details including:

  • Witness’s name
  • Witness’s involvement (i.e. pedestrian/driver, etc)
  • Witness’s contact detail

Take photos of the accident from multiple points of view

Photographs can help illustrate what exactly has happened. It’s important that your photos tell a story of the accident to help insurers get the whole picture. This will help them determine who was at fault. If it is safe to do so, make sure to include the following photos from the scene:

  • Photos of the entire scene
  • Photos of impact from several angles
  • Photos of traffic signs and light in relation to the accident
  • Photos of skid marks
  • Photo any public or private property that was damaged
  • Photos of broken glass or damage to your car

Report the car accident to police

Police should be called at the scene of the accident if someone is injured, a fatality has occurred, or property has been damaged and the owner is not present. You have up to 24 hours after an accident to report a major crash to the Police. A major crash is one where:

  • somebody was injured or killed,
  • a vehicle was towed, or
  • where the estimated damages are $3000 or more.

You should also report the incident to Police if details were not exchanged. If Police attend, ask for the report number, the name of the officer and their station.

If you aren’t sure whether you need to report your crash, report it anyway. Police have non-urgent communications channels — you'll need to look up what they are in your state or territory. A report to police will ensure there’s a record of the crash should you need one.

Contact your insurer

If you’ve been in an accident, let your insurer know. Provide them with the details you recorded, especially the contact details and insurers of other drivers involved.

Keep any bills you incur due to the accident, such as for car repairs or medical expenses, as you may be reimbursed for them by an insurer.

Injured in a car accident? Contact us

If you’ve suffered injuries in an accident, Shine Lawyers’ motor vehicle accident experts can help you with your compensation claim. We will investigate your entitlements through compensation, as well as your superannuation and insurance — we’ll explore all your options.

Get in touch today for an obligation-free consultation to assess your legal rights.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: December 4, 2020.

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