A comprehensive ‘must-do’ checklist for the unexpected and when you are at your most vulnerable which, hopefully, might save you thousands and even possibly a lifetime of pain.
No one expects to be involved in an accident. But it can happen in the blink of an eye – whether it’s your fault or someone else’s. A big crash, and even a small bump, can get the adrenaline pumping and shock can set in, even anger and depression, so things can be a bit of a blur. Most people say they know what to do in such a situation until it happens to them.
Immediately after the accident
- Stop the car as soon as possible – it’s an offence not to do so.
- Turn off the engine.
- Look 360 degrees around to ensure you will not be hit by another vehicle.
- Put the hand brake on.
- Switch the hazard lights on.
- Check that your limbs are moving.
- Look in the mirror to check for a facial or head injury.
- Check for any injuries to yourself or your passengers.
- Try to remain as calm as possible – its normal to be shaken after an accident, take a few deep breaths and try to take stock of the situation the best you can. And don’t lose your temper.
- If it’s a minor collision and there are no injuries, take photos from your phone and make a note of it just in case the other driver later tries to claim for an injury.
- Call the Gardaí and an ambulance immediately if anyone is hurt or if the road is blocked.
- Never apologise or admit responsibility for the accident until you’re completely aware of what happened – this can protect you from liability if it wasn’t your fault. Do not admit any liability. You don’t have all the facts yet. So, do not say anything about who is to blame.
When should I call the Gardaí?
- If the other driver(s) leave the scene without giving details.
- If you think the other driver has no insurance or is under the influence of drink or drugs.
- If you suspect that the other driver caused the collision.
- Call them anyway so you have proof of the accident. If the breakdown company or anyone says not to, ignore them and do it immediately.
- Do not let anyone move the vehicle(s) until the Gardaí arrive as evidence may be lost. It is the breakdown guy’s job to keep the traffic moving – you are not his priority. Keeping traffic moving is his most pressing urgency!
Exchange motoring details
- Share your name, address and driver’s license with everyone involved in the accident – the law says you must do this.
- Take photos of everyone and everything including the other drivers’ discs.
- Swap insurance information details with the other driver(s).
- Note the details of any other passengers and witnesses to the accident.
- Try to find out if the other driver is the registered owner of the vehicle. If they are not (as, for instance, it might be a company car), find out who the owner is and get that information also.
- If a foreign lorry is involved, get the numbers on both the lorry and its trailer (as sometimes they are different). It’s also a good idea to get the name of the company if it’s painted on the lorry.
What should I record at the accident scene?
- Note or take photos of the make, model, colour, and number plate of the vehicles involved in the accident.
- The time and date of the crash.
- The driving conditions, including the weather, lighting, and road quality (such as road markings, whether it’s wet or muddy, road surface condition).
- What sort of damage was caused to the vehicles and where, for example, nearside front wing and door. (The nearside is the left side of your car; the offside is the driver’s side). There may be damage that you can’t see.
- Any injuries to drivers, passengers or pedestrians.
- The names and contact details of any witnesses.
- Use your phone to take pictures of the scene, the positions of the cars involved, and damage to the cars before anything is moved!
- If no one else is involved in the accident, for example, if you caused damage to private property or a parked car, you should leave your details e.g. a note where the owner can see it. Honesty pays here; if a witness or CCTV camera saw you and noted your car number but you drove off, you could be in serious trouble.
Claiming from your insurance provider
- Phone your insurance company as soon as possible – ideally at the time of the accident. They’ll ask for:
- Your policy number or information to identify you, such as your address and car registration number.
- The registration number of the cars involved.
- The name, address, phone number and insurance details of any other driver(s).
What if I don’t claim?
- Still tell your insurer about the accident, because the other driver may try to claim without you knowing. You may choose not to claim:
- To keep your no claims discount intact if you have a ‘protected no claims discount’.
- If you decide to pay for the repairs yourself.
- These are people who arrange accidents in order to make a fraudulent insurance claim.
- They may cause an accident deliberately by braking unexpectedly, causing you to go into the back of their car, or by flashing their lights to indicate you’re free to go before purposely crashing into you. They may also take out their brake light bulbs, giving you no warning when they hit the brakes in front of you, and making it more likely you will crash into them.
- Crash-for-cash claimants will usually blame you for the accident and give you their insurance information, which is sometimes written out ready on a bit of paper.
- A few weeks after this happens, you might receive a letter from your insurance company highlighting the damage from the accident – the claims they make can be exaggerated (sometimes including recovery vehicle, car hire, or whiplash injuries to others that haven’t occurred) to maximise the money they try to claim.
- You’ll be less likely to be involved in such a scam if you keep your eyes open and:
- Be especially careful in stop-to-start traffic, at merging junctions and roundabouts.
- Leave plenty of space between you and the car in front.
- Be wary of erratic driving behaviour such as slowing for no reason.
- Note if a driver’s brake lights don’t seem to be working and increase your distance.
- Do install dash-cams in both front and rear window to prove your innocence in a crash-for-cash claim. These can be very helpful in establishing proof of a crash-for-cash claim.
- Car safety technology may help to reduce the risk of having a car accident – leaving you feeling safer while you drive. Cars fitted with certain types of safety technology will usually (be in a lower insurance group than a similar car not so equipped, which can) attract a lower premium.
- Many cars already come with audible and visual sensors when manoeuvring your car in tight spaces or automatic parallel parking. You can check with your insurance company to see if they’ll offer an additional discount for such equipment. Below a few more safety tech features but remember – DONT TURN THEM OFF!
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB): The brakes are automatically applied if sensors detect that you’re going to have a crash, helping to either avoid an accident or decrease the severity of the accident.
- Adaptive cruise control: The car automatically reduces its set speed if the traffic ahead is travelling more slowly than you.
- Dashboard cameras: These record the traffic ahead of (and, optionally, behind) you, which can help prevent crash-for-cash claimants from making fraudulent insurance claims or provide evidence of what happened when you must make a claim.
- Lane departure warning system: Sensors or cameras that pick up your car’s position on the road and warn you if you’re swaying out of your lane.
Please feel free to contact us here at Naas Tyres if you have any questions. Safe driving.