The metallic crunch of a bumper crashing into the back-end of another vehicle is a sound-bite we all try to avoid. In 2013, 17.2 million vehicles were registered to Australian motorists; while accident figures are skewed and the death toll is on the decline, statistics aren’t useful in the event of the unexpected. Despite the saturation of data out there, knowing what to do when you’re involved in a car accident isn’t covered in news reports or front page spreads.
So, what do you do when your day is shattered by an unfortunate car accident?
Keep Calm, Don’t Carry On
You may feel compelled to speed away and never look back – panic makes people do weird things. Instead, turn off the vehicle, check everyone is okay (if you’re not traveling alone) and get out to assess the extent of the damage and help anyone in distress. If serious injuries are present, call an ambulance? Wait, what about the cops? The authorities should be alerted if damage exceeds $2,500.
Down to the Details
If everyone is okay, collect the details of the other drivers involved. Occasionally, someone may reject your request for their name, address and registration – take down their licence plate number and contact the police. It is your right to claim against them if they have damaged your property. If you are responsible for part or all of the accident, do not acknowledge your charge at the scene. Instead, do what you can to make sure everyone is safe, and contact a reliable firm like Sinnamon Lawyers to ensure any matters are handled with proficiency and professionalism.
Do I Get Out of the Way?
Expect a range of reactions from surrounding traffic – rubber necking, glares, concerned looks, even anger and annoyance. Unfortunately, you’ll have to weather these expressions, unless the accident is impeding traffic, until the police arrive. If vehicles are in the way, move them to side of the road after marking where the impact took place.
Towing the Line
Tow-truck drivers can be very opportunistic. You may notice a truck or two turning up without being asked to do so; you may feel a bit confused and overwhelmed at this point, but do not let these drivers take your vehicle without a tow authority. From time to time, police will permit tow truck drivers to remove your vehicle if it is blocking traffic and causing a further hazard.
Never lose your temper. Nobody wants to be in your shoes, including the other motorists waiting on the side of the road with you, heads in their hands and smart phones at the ready. While you’re waiting for the police, note down every possible detail – what the other cars look like, any existing damage you see that wasn’t caused by the collision, markings and paint-work, time of crash and a chronological list of events. Try not to discuss the accident, even if you feel bad; stick to the facts and don’t mention blame either way.
Remembering every factor when it comes to the crunch can be difficult; you’ve just lived through a potentially traumatic experience and there are a lot of unknowns. Be kind to yourself, keep calm, capture every detail you