The aftermath of a motor vehicle accident can be a time fraught with high emotions but it’s important to stay calm and take certain steps.
What to do in the event of an accident
- The first thing to do after a motor vehicle accident is to stop immediately and make sure you, your passengers and the other driver and passengers are okay. If someone is in need of urgent medical assistance or if the crash has caused a significant threat to the safety of other motorists, it’s best to call 000 immediately.
- If it’s possible, safely move the vehicles to the side of the road and out of the way for ongoing traffic. If this is impossible, put your hazard lights on and request assistance to redirect traffic flow.
- Now is the time to exchange details (names, contact details, addresses, licence and registration numbers, insurance details) with the other drivers involved, take photos of any damage and take the contact details of any witnesses.
- At this stage, it’s important to call your insurer to let them know what’s happened and they will inform you of the next steps depending on the seriousness of the crash and your level of cover.
When should I call the police?
Police are required to attend the scene if the accident meets the major Traffic Crash criteria; where someone is killed, trapped or injured, if a driver has failed to exchange details, or if a driver is suspected as under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If the crash doesn’t meet these criteria, police may still opt to attend if traffic needs to be redirected, or if there are safety risks at the scene, or if a bus or truck need to be towed. Ultimately it is a matter of police discretion.
If you’ve been involved in an accident where any of the following occur, police may not necessarily need to attend, but you must report the crash within 24 hours:
- If your vehicle or any other needs to be towed away
- If there is property damage as a result of the crash
- If any animal has been injured
- If you can’t provide particulars to the other driver or other owner of damaged property
In NSW, drivers now are not required to report an accident if it is a minor collision and doesn’t require a tow away, however some insurers may still require a police incident number.
Things to remember
For insurance purposes, it’s preferable not to admit fault or discuss who was at fault at the scene. While this can seem like the most natural thing to do after an accident, it’s important to remember that fault at law is very complex and ultimately, it’s the insurance companies, or the Court who will be determining fault.
If you are wanting to make a claim for compensation, there are strict time limits that apply, depending on which state you reside so it’s best to seek legal advice as early as possible.
For more information about your rights and responsibilities after a motor vehicle accident, and to enquire about our No Win No Fee policy for compensation claims, contact us for a free consultation.