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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 confusing experience. Regardless of how the accident occurred or who was at fault, it’s important to protect your rights.

Not sure what to do in a car accident? We have developed a handy checklist. This guide can be used to help those involved in a motor vehicle accident as a driver, passenger, pedestrian or cyclists to map out the steps needed to reduce the stress and confusion, and ensure you fulfill your 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 the way of the traffic and switch on your hazard lights. Sometimes among the commotion of an accident it can be easy to forget to collect certain details. Below is a checklist of what to do in a car accident. We recommend saving it to your phone or printing it to keep in your car, that way you won't forget to take note of essential details at the scene.

Download here or request a free printed copy of "What to do in a car accident checklist" above

The details that you will need to collect include:

  • Other driver/s details
  • Date and time
  • Location
  • Driver’s phone number
  • Driver’s vehicle registration
  • Driver’s name
  • Driver’s Insurer
  • Driver’s address
  • Driver’s vehicle make and model

Eye 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 their details including:

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

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.

Contact your insurer

To start your claim, you will need to report the accident to your car insurer. Every driver in Australia has at least Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance, in the event of injury. After you have given the details of the accident to the insurer, they will begin to investigate.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: January 30, 2020.

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