What to Do after a Crash

Car crashes are an inevitable part of driving, but with some pre-emptive research, you can reduce your vulnerability. You could have minimised the impact of a crash prior to purchasing a car by reference to a motoring car comparison tool covering crash test data.

Recently, www.motoring.com.au reported that Volvo predicted crash-proof cars by 2020, but we aren't there yet, and most people in a British survey didn't believe it was possible. Whether or not it becomes a reality, research is the key to looking after your well being. And if you are in a car accident, there are a number of things to consider:

Legal Requirements

The very first thing you should do after a car cash where a person or property has been injured is stop. Australian law requires this. There is a slight exception if the site is over a hillcrest or blocking the road, in which case it's wise to move so another car won't make the situation even more dire, but mark where your car was. Then, turn your engine off and your hazard lights on. After that is the time to take a few deep breaths – the calmer you are, the easier any situation will be to deal with.

Another legal requirement is the giving of information to people whose property has been damaged or who have been injured. This is your name and address, those of the owner, if it's someone else, the car registration number and insurance details. Soliciting information from witnesses will be advantageous if you believe you were wronged.

people arguing after car crash

It's best to not discuss an accident with anyone other than the police. Accepting blame will worsen the legal ramifications, and merely saying, “sorry” can be taken as an admission of responsibility. You can at least offer concern.

It's advisable to note the time of the accident and the weather conditions. A photograph of the scene will be useful, or failing that, a sketch. Photographs prove cuts or bruises. Later, it's prudent to obtain a copy of the police report.

You'll have to notify the insurers of yourself and the other party. Many insurers refuse to honour claims that aren't reported immediately.

What to Do about Injuries

Check your own body and ask other car occupants how they are. If anyone has been injured, they shouldn't be given food or drink but should be kept calm. The police must be notified on 000 or 112 if it's an emergency, or 131 444 for anything less.

If you've been injured at all, you should see a doctor immediately. Pain can take days or even weeks to manifest itself. Studies have revealed that 30 percent of people involved in motor vehicle accidents suffer long-term negative health effects. Insurance companies will take a “wait and see” approach to mean that injuries are slight.

The Risk of Identity Theft

While the thought won't be foremost in your mind after a crash, providing excessive detail after an accident could leave you open to identity theft. Sam Imandoust, a legal analyst for the Identity Theft Resource Centre of San Diego, said that accidents could be staged specifically to obtain personal information. If you allow your driver's license to be photographed, it can be used to make a fake ID or the details can be given to a policeman, which would stain your driving record.

What You Could Do Before a Crash

There are things you could do before a car crash that might actually prevent one. The first is to be wary of alcohol, which plays a part in a third of road deaths in Australia. A study of 1,800 people injured in crashes in Victoria found that 80 percent were caused by people taking prescription tranquillisers. If your car has electric locks, read its manual to discover how to open the doors manually – forthwith.


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