Being involved in a car accident is never going to be an easy experience. Even if you were not responsible for the accident, and whether you were injured or not, it’s likely you will suffer shock from the impact, particularly if you did not see the impact coming.
After a car accident you should get medical attention as soon as possible if you are injured. Then you’ll then have to go through your insurers, and deal with recovery of your vehicle.
So what can you do to make the process easier? Below are a few things you can do to avoid unnecessary complications resulting from a car accident. For the purposes of this guide it is written from the perspective that you’re not responsible for the accident, and you were also injured in the impact.
Firstly try to remain as calm as possible, and if you have passengers try to keep them calm as well. This may be difficult, because as previously mentioned, you may be suffering from shock. But getting overly upset will not help your situation and may create further problems, particularly if any aggression is directed at the other driver.
Call the emergency services immediately if you believe that anyone is seriously injured, or needs medical attention. You may need to call the police if vehicles are blocking the road or if there is debris which you believe could cause could harm to others. If you’re on a motorway or dual carriageway it is likely that a Traffic Officer is not too far away, but call the emergency services to make sure that help is on its way.
Do not say you are at fault for the accident because you could be wrong, and if you apologise for causing the accident that it is technically an admission of liability (fault). In the majority of car accidents it is clear who caused the accident.
To avoid doubt or questions being raised by insurers or Personal Injury Solicitors representing the other driver, do not apologise. If you believe that you may have been at fault, or even partly to blame, you should wait until any evidence gathered after the accident, including any Police reports, has been reviewed by your Personal Injury Solicitor and their car accident experts. You can always apologise at a later date when you are not suffering from shock.
Right after the car accident happens, only if you can do so safely, try to get as much information about the driver of the other vehicle/s and any witnesses who may have seen the actual impact of the car accident. Take photos of the road, positions of the vehicles and any road signs or markings that may help to indicate what, or who, caused the accident.
If you can do so safely, try to get the name, address, contact details, and registration numbers of the vehicles involved. If there are any witnesses who saw the impact, ask if they would be willing to provide their contact information so they can provide their version of events to your insurance company and Personal Injury Solicitors.
Call your insurers to let them know you have been involved in a car accident, particularly if you have roadside assistance or recovery. Your insurer will be able to advise you on the best thing to do next if you are stranded or need roadside assistance. Your insurer will also then be aware of the accident and may be able to cover the costs involved in getting you home or to a safe location.
Keep all your receipts relating to the car accident. This is your proof of the costs you have incurred as a result of the accident. If the car accident is shown not to be your fault, you may be able to recover these costs from the other side.
Please note that that these costs must be reasonable, and anything that you would have paid for without the accident occurring is not recoverable. There is a duty on you to mitigate your losses, which means keeping any expenses as reasonable as possible. For example, say your mobile phone was broken in the accident but it was an old model and could be easily repaired, but you went out and bought the best top of the range phone to replace it, then you would not be able to recover this cost.
Lastly, you may not believe you are seriously injured at the time of the accident, or you may only feel the effects of any injuries until later that day or a few days after. If this happens, seek medical advice and treatment if necessary. Your injuries may only appear hours, or even days, after the accident and it is always best to seek medical advice. The duty to mitigate your losses also applies to any injuries you incur, which means getting the medical advice or treatment you require.
The above is not a definitive guide about what to do after a car accident, but it gives a few pointers that if followed can help to make the experience less stressful.
At Co-op Legal Services most claims can be dealt with on a No Win No Fee basis.