A car accident is one of the worst things you can experience on the road. Yet unlike with many shocking and traumatic events, there’s a to-do list immediately following a car accident that’s sensible to follow.
“Being involved in a car incident is something most of us put to the back of our minds,” said Chris Barella of Euro Car Parts, which carried out research into the best things to do following a car accident.
“However, they unfortunately do happen and feeling prepared for this will help to keep yourself and others around you as calm as possible, and allow you to focus on the urgent priorities and necessary steps you need to take following a collision.”
Here’s what to do when you have a car accident.
This is obvious, and heads the list. Not stopping your car after a collision is, in fact, illegal. You could wind up with a six-month prison sentence or a £5,000 fine if you don’t pull over.
Stop the car and turn off the engine, given the car could be unsafe to drive, but switch the hazard lights on. If you have a warning triangle, set it out on the side of the incident that has cars approaching.
Check the people involved
It’s a courtesy as much as a necessity, but speak to everyone involved and check they’re OK.
You’ll also want to get an impression of the other driver, if there is one. Assess whether they may be under the influence of drink or drugs.
Call the relevant services if they’re needed, be they police or medical, and don’t be afraid to flag down help.
Assess the damage
Once you’ve done what you need to do with people, check over the cars. Make a note of exactly what the damage is, both outside and in.
You’ll also want to check whether any personal items, including clothes, have been affected by the incident. Detail what you think is damaged, and take photos
Note down details on the other car, too: make, model, registration number and colour. Also take down the location, weather conditions and time of the incident.
Swap contact, address and insurance details with the other driver involved. Note down passengers, the names of everyone involved, witnesses and the ID numbers of the emergency services on the scene.
This is why it’s a good idea to keep a notepad in your car, though the notes function on your phone will do the job.
Tell your insurer about the accident
As soon as is convenient, preferably at the scene, let your insurer know what’s happened. You don’t have to go through it all in the moment, just let them know. You can make further contact later. Be sure to have your insurance documents to hand for the full breakdown of the incident.
If you’re outside your insurance company’s operational hours, you should be able to call an accident recovery line for assistance.