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What to do in a car accident

4 minute read

Motor vehicle accident

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

Are you unsure what to do after a car accident? The following checklist can be used by:

  • Drivers;

  • Passengers;

  • Pedestrians; or

  • Cyclists involved in a motor vehicle accident.

It can also be used to map out the steps needed to reduce stress and confusion and meet your legal obligations.

What to do at the scene of an accident

First things first, remain calm and assess your injuries.

If you or your passengers don’t need immediate medical assistance, move your car away from traffic 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.

Details to collect at the scene

  • Date and time

  • Location

  • Names and contact details of drivers and passengers of all vehicles involved

  • Registration, make and model of vehicles involved

  • Insurance details 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

In the event you’re unable to find witnesses, reaching out to your local community through Facebook groups may be an option. Alternatively, your solicitor can also support you by contacting the media to raise awareness.

Take photos or videos of the accident from multiple points of view

Photographs and videos can help illustrate what exactly has happened. It’s important that your photos and videos 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 or videos from the scene of:

  • the entire scene

  • impact from several angles

  • traffic signs and light in relation to the accident

  • skid marks

  • public or private property that was damaged

  • broken glass or damage to your car

  • injuries sustained from the accident as the driver and/or passengers

Do you need to 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 the police if details were not exchanged. If Police attend, there is also the opportunity for a breath test to be conducted to ensure the other driver was not under the influence. Also ensure that you 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 as soon as possible. Provide them with the details you have recorded, especially the contact details and insurance details of other drivers involved.

Keep a record of 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 depending on your insurance policy.

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.

If you or a passenger involved in the accident has suffered a traumatic brain injury, our team of experts can help.

Get in touch with us online or over the phone for an obligation-free consultation to assess your legal rights.

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