Being involved in a car accident is an extremely unfortunate event, but to our dismay, they do happen. While it is most definitely not something that we would like to envision, it is imperative that every driver is familiarised on what to do in a car accident. This will ensure that you are always fully prepared and can take the right steps towards dealing with the situation.
Steps On What To Do In A Car Accident
A car accident is never a nice thought, and even the smallest of bumps can cause a sudden panic, especially if you are a new driver or have yet to encounter a stressful situation behind the wheel. Incidents are unpredictable and in some cases, when you are not at fault, inevitable. There are many drivers who do not take as much care on the roads as you do, whether they are guilty of using their phone or driving at high speeds with little control over their vehicle. And in other cases, it may just be the case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time or a misjudged move.
However, regardless of the situation that you are landed in, the procedures to handle the repercussions of a crash are always the same, meaning that they are vital to know. Having specialised in crash repairs in Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas for many years, we work with drivers who have been involved in an accident on a daily basis, many of which admit that they feel unconfident with how to deal with the situation. So, we have put together a full guide on the exact steps that you need to take; these include the following:
Whether you have been involved in a small bump or major crash, immediately after an accident, it is likely that you will be shaken up and feel panicky. This is a completely natural reaction; however, the key is to stay as calm as possible. Take a moment to take a few deep breaths and remember the steps that we are about to run through. How you handle the moments straight after the incident will be crucial in resolving the issue.
What To Do:
First and foremost, you must stop the car and switch off the engine, even if you do not think that the accident was serious. If you do not stop, then this is actually breaking the law, potentially leading to fines, penalty points and in the worst-case scenario, a driving ban or imprisonment. More information on this law can be found on the Cartwright King Solicitors website. Next, turn on your hazard lights so that other road users can clearly see that you are sitting stationary.
Once you are stopped, it is of utmost importance to check whether you or if you have them, your passengers, are injured. If anyone has any serious injuries, then you must call an ambulance and the police on 999 immediately. You should also call the police if:
- The incident means that the road is now blocked
- You think that the other driver caused the accident on purpose
- The other driver seems to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- The other driver is not insured
Much like stopping after an incident, it is also a legal requirement to inform the police of a severe collision. Although you must always do this at the scene, if for whatever reason this is not possible, it must be reported within 24 hours, either by calling them or visiting your local police station.
If no one is injured, and it is safe to do so, it is then time to get out of your vehicle and assess the damage. Always remember to take photos of the damage, even if it is only minor, on both your vehicle and the other vehicle involved. This will act as vital evidence if you fall victim to the other driver making a claim against you on a later date for damage that you did not cause. Other information that you should document is:
- The date and time of the incident
- The weather
- The condition of the road
- The lighting surrounding the area
What Not To Do:
Although it is human nature to have feelings of anger in tricky situations, you mustn’t lose your temper with the other driver. Even if they are at fault for your collision, causing an argument will do nothing but make the situation worse and them more defensive. Taking a calm approach is guaranteed to make others more cooperative with you.
It is also important never to admit fault for the incident because if you say anything that implies you are happy to take the blame, including apologising, this will work against you when talking to the insurance company. If you are in the wrong, the only people that you should talk about this with is your insurance company, the police or medical team.
Once any injuries have been seen to and everyone involved is safe, you must now move onto exchanging details. Again, it is vital that you collect as much information as possible so that you have plenty of evidence. If you are worried about forgetting particular pieces of information due to panic, then you may want to consider keeping a checklist in your vehicle or on your phone that you can always refer back to.
Giving Your Details:
When involved in a car accident, you are obliged to provide others involved with your information, even if you are not at fault. Give them your full name, address and contact details, along with your insurance details. You should also provide them with information on any of your passengers as these will be important in resolving the issue.
Collecting Details From Others Involved:
The details that you collect from the other driver involved are the same as those you provide them with. Now, in some cases, you may be faced with a driver who is reluctant to give you any information, and this is most likely because they are already breaking the law. In this instance, always ensure that you note down or take a photo of their registration number as this will help the police to track them down.
You should also take note of the details of all other vehicles involved, this includes the:
- Damage on the vehicle (this will accompany the photos mentioned above)
It is essential to make your insurance company aware of any road accidents that you are involved in, whether you are at fault or not. While this doesn’t have to be done at the scene, once you get home, try to contact them as soon as possible. Failing to inform your provider does risk your cover from being invalidated, resulting in significant expenses. More information on why your car insurance may be made invalid can be found on AA.
Once you have informed your insurance provider and given them all of the information you have, they will then take over the situation and tell you your next steps. For example, they will make all contact between those involved in the incident, as well as their providers. This is one of the key reasons as to why finding a reputable insurance provider with a policy that sufficiently covers you is essential.
If You Need To Make A Claim:
If you are not at fault for the accident and you need to make a claim, then you will need to get all information regarding the incident ready before calling your insurance provider. They will ask for several details, including:
- Name and contact details of the other driver involved, as well as any passengers and witnesses
- The registration number of both your vehicle and any others involved
- The time and address of the incident
- Details regarding the location of the collision (this is where taking notes on the road condition, weather and lighting will prove useful)
- Any photos that you have of the accident
It is important to note that some insurance policies have set timeframes on how long after the accident, you can contact to make a claim. This is something that you should always ensure that you are familiarised with before taking out a policy as failing to may mean that you call too late for them to be able to help.
Once you have given all of the collision information to your provider, as mentioned previously, they will then get to work resolving the issue. It can be tricky to determine how long it will take to process the claim and receive your compensation because every company has different procedures. This will also differ based on the nature of your situation, for instance, whether you are claiming for damage or injuries. However, you will be kept in the loop throughout and informed of anything that may delay your claim.
If you have opted for a damage claim, then your insurance provider will contact you to make arrangements based on your schedule. You can request a particular body shop if you want to stick with someone that you know, providing that they are insurance approved. Here at Scuff N Scratch, all of our services are approved by leading insurance providers, whether this may be car body repairs in Milton Keynes or paint work repairs in Buckingham. This means that if you are involved in a collision and require reliable industry professionals, our team are always happy to help.
If You Are To Blame:
For those who are involved in a collision and they are to blame, this will be classed as an at-fault claim. You should still always contact your insurance provider as soon as possible, even if you know that you are at fault. In this instance, the process will be the same, and you will be asked to provide the same information. However, you will have to pay your excess, and this will be put together the total cost of the claim, including repairs to your vehicle. This is one of the main reasons as to why vehicle owners opt for paying a higher insurance premium in return for a lower excess as in the event of an at-fault collision, that is all you will need to pay. If you are unsure of how car insurance excess works, take a look at Admiral.
Once you have an at-fault claim on your records, you should be prepared for your next insurance policy to be slightly more expensive. While this is not always the case, higher premiums are commonly a repercussion of an at-fault situation, which means that you would most definitely benefit from shopping around ahead of time. This will give you plenty of time to find the most cost-effective option available.
Stay Cool, Calm And Most Importantly, Prepared!
It is more than likely that you will have to handle an accident at some point in your driving life, so the more prepared that you are, the better. Always remember although the first reaction is to panic, this will prevent you from being able to tackle the situation with your insurance provider. Stay calm, remember all of the points listed above and we promise that it will be resolved as soon as possible!