The moment you passed your driving test was the moment that you put yourself at risk of a car accident on the road. We aren’t saying your an unsafe driver, but there are countless other drivers on the road who may not be as vigilant as you are. Of course, sometimes blame can be attributed elsewhere, such as road and weather conditions, so the driver isn’t always at fault when it comes to traffic accidents. Whatever the case, you need to know what to do should you be involved in a collision. Not only will you be dealing with injuries, but there will be legal and financial repercussions as well. In this article, we will give you some practical advice to help you cope with such a situation.
Before the accident
You can’t always predict an accident, but you can take steps to protect yourself and anybody travelling with you. This includes:
- Driving safely. It’s common sense we know, but the safer you drive, the less likely you are to have an accident. However, if an accident happens, you will be less accountable for blame if your driving wasn’t at fault.
- Make sure your insurance policy is up to date. It’s the law to have car insurance, and you will suffer financial losses without it. Still, for whatever reason, people do forget to renew their car insurance in time, so check your paperwork to make sure you’re sufficiently covered.
- Ensure your car is safe. Modern cars have many safety features, such as dashboard cams and active braking systems, but any car should have working seat belts and airbags fitted. For your sake and of those travelling with you, ensure your car has as many protective features as possible.
Immediately following an accident
When the unthinkable happens, you will probably be in a state of shock and disbelief. Still, you need to follow procedure, ensuring your own safety and that of those around you. Here are the steps you should take.
- Stop your car. Whether at fault or not, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident you have been involved with. Even if the damage is minimal, you need to pull your car over to a safe spot and assess your surroundings. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other road users to the accident that has taken place.
- Check for injuries. This begins with yourself and your passengers. Hopefully, you will be okay, but if in doubt (especially with head injuries), it is important to call for an ambulance. This also applies to anybody else who may have been injured in the collision, including the other driver.
- Call the police. If the road is blocked because of the accident, or you believe the other driver was driving dangerously, call the police. They will clear the road and direct other road users to safety. Should the other driver be at fault, police records will back up your insurance claim, and any legal proceedings you may take against the other driver.
- Remain calm. Your emotions will be all over the place, from panic to anger. It’s easier said than done sometimes, but stay cool. You need to be in a position to manage yourself in the situation, and you may have to deal with the other driver. Losing your temper is not going to help your cause.
- Don’t admit fault immediately. We aren’t telling you to lie, but don’t confess to anything before you are completely sure what happened. If you weren’t at fault, you will be protected from liability when dealing with insurance companies. It may be that the other driver caused the accident, or conditions on the road may have affected your driving, so say nothing. Even if you are to blame, you should stay silent until questioned by the police or insurance company.
- Gather evidence. This includes noting down the time and date of the accident, driving conditions, damages to your vehicle and the other drivers, and any injuries. If possible, take photographs too, as evidence to support your insurance claim. The other driver may try and get away with a fake injury or car damage that can’t be attributed to you, so having photographic evidence will help. Then speak to any witnesses and ask for their contact details for insurance and police purposes.
- Swap insurance details. In a civil a manner as possible, speak to the other driver and swap details. Assuming they are driving legally, they should be happy to pass over their information. If they refuse, take note of their registration details and pass them to your insurance company.
Days after the accident
The accident has happened, and hopefully, you have dealt with the correct paperwork for your insurance company. If you are still feeling shock or are in any way unwell in the days ahead, speak to your doctor for further advice. Many people struggle to get back on the road after an accident, and this is normal. Seek support from others, and if you are nervous, take other people with you when you venture anywhere in your car. Life will get better, despite the personal and financial implications you will have faced.
Dealing with your insurance company
You should always talk to your insurance company as soon as possible, even if you don’t want to make a claim. The other driver may have talked to their insurance company in any case, so it’s best to be upfront with your provider. You should give them as much information as possible, and avoid giving factually incorrect information as it may invalidate your claim. While they should work to support your needs, you may wish to take legal advice if you believe your case is being handled insufficiently.
We really hope you aren’t involved in an accident, but if you are, we hope our advice helped. It’s better to be prepared than not. Of course, by taking care on the road, you are doing your bit to reduce the chances of an accident happening anyway. In any case, look after yourself and all other road users when out on the highways and byways. Take care.