What are my responsibilities after a car accident?

Being involved in a car accident isn’t something we like to think about. However, it’s highly likely that this may happen to you at some point in your life, so it’s important to know what to do when the time comes.  

The moments following a car crash may be scary, stressful, and confusing. Read below for a step-by-step guide on what you should do in the event of a crash.

1. Stop

If you’re involved in an accident, you’re legally required to stop. Failing to stop at the scene of an accident in which you’re involved is a chargeable offence. Even if no one is hurt, you’re required to offer assistance and exchange details.

If you’ve been injured or your car is in a dangerous position after the accident, your health is the first priority. Turn the engine off immediately and check the severity of injuries for you and any other passengers. If needed, call emergency assistance. It’s also important to not move anyone if you believe they have spinal or head injuries.

2. Exchange details

You must exchange names, addresses, vehicle registration numbers, and contact details with the other driver or the owner of the property which was damaged. It’s wise to record other details such as the time, date, location, weather condition, and the speed at which you believe you were travelling.

3. Don’t admit fault

In the heat and emotion of the moment, it’s easy to admit fault for the accident; don’t fall into this trap. In a time when the emotion and stress levels are high, you may even be tempted to admit fault for something you haven’t done, which may cause legal complications down the track. In these cases, you and your insurer may be liable to pay damages, even if the accident wasn’t your fault.

In discussing the event (with police, your insurer, or anyone else involved in the crash), the general recommendation is to remain objective in your telling of the story and to tell it as it happened from your perspective without making any assumptions. This will prove beneficial to your motor vehicle accident compensation claim.

4. Take photos and gather witness details

If there are any witnesses, gather their contact details as they may be required to give statements. It’s also useful to take photos of the scene, to prove the extent of damage to insurers, and help determine who was at fault.

Take photos and gather witness details

5. Report

You must report the accident to the police if:

  • any person is killed or injured
  • the owner of any damaged property is not present
  • the owner of another vehicle involved in the crash didn’t stop to exchange details

If nobody is hurt, the property/vehicle damage is minimal, and the relevant parties are happy to exchange details and work out the finer details among themselves, you may not necessarily be required to report the incident to the police. However, it’s generally considered a good practice to report any crash because many insurers will request a police report number.

6. Contact your insurer

You must contact your insurer as soon as possible after the accident. Ideally, if you can call your insurer from the scene of the accident, a police officer or witness may be able to provide more accurate details than you can yourself. Your insurer will be able to guide you through the necessary steps to ensure that your claim is filed correctly and as quickly as possible.

What if I need to file a claim for compensation?

If you’ve been injured in the accident, you may want to file a claim to receive compensation. The best way to do this is by working with a lawyer who can help you with your motor vehicle accident compensation claim.

Your lawyer can file the claim and help you get the compensation you’re entitled to, which may include loss of income, medical expense, and legal fees.

As the adage goes, “forewarned is forearmed”.  It’s important to understand your legal obligations at the scene of an accident and take all necessary steps to ensure that you comply with the law. Contact your legal advisor for more information regarding your responsibilities after a car accident.