SHARE: What to do – and NOT to do – if you are involved in an accident

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ANGER and fear often cloud our judgment when we are involved in a motor vehicle accident.

So what should you do if you are involved in an accident?

The fact is that our rational behaviour and thinking go completely out of the window in a stressful situation, so it is important to remember a few simple guidelines in the event you end up in this unfortunate situation.

The Automobile Association explains that it is critical to obtain as much information as possible from the driver of the other vehicle, including their full name, address, identification number, contact details, the make, model and registration number of their vehicle.

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“It is also advisable to identify the location of the accident, clearly defining distances from fixed points. A simple sketch of what happened, backed up with photographic evidence, could be invaluable should the collision lead to a court case,” advises the AA.

According to Section 61 of the National Road Traffic Act (93 of 1996), a driver of a vehicle involved in an accident is obliged to do the following:

  • Immediately stop the vehicle.
  • Ascertain the nature of and extent of any injury sustained.
  • If a person is injured, render assistance as he/she is capable of rendering.
  • Ascertain the nature of and extent of damage sustained.
  • If required to do so, give his / her name and address, the name and address of the owner of the vehicle, as well as the registration number to any person having reasonable grounds for the information.
  • Report the accident at a police station within 24 hours and produce the driver’s licence.
  • Not take any intoxicating liquor or narcotic drug unless prescribed by a medical practitioner.

According to statistics, nearly 65 percent of all vehicles on South African roadways are uninsured and this can lead to financial burden should you ever be involved in an accident.

The AA advises that all drivers should make sue their vehicles are properly covered, and that those who do not have vehicle insurance “never sign a blank towing form. Obtain as much information about the towing operator as possible, including whether they have any accreditation with the AA or major insurance companies.”

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What should you NOT do when involved in an accident?

  • Move your vehicle unless it is necessary for safety, or required by law.
  • Subject yourself to further injury by standing or waiting in an area near traffic or other safety hazards.
  • Leave the scene of the accident until the police tell you to do so.
  • Throw away potential evidence, such as defective products, important documents, or torn or blood stained clothing.
  • Engage in discussions of fault with anyone, as that could be considered evidence in court.
  • Agree to a settlement without discussing the matter with your attorney.

But it was not my fault:

If you claim that the accident was, in fact, not your fault, you would have to be able to prove that the driver of the other vehicle acted in an irresponsible manner and that he or she should have been able to foresee the damages he or she would cause and should have taken reasonable steps to prevent such damages.

Some examples of negligent driving include:

  • Driving at an excessive speed or over the posted speed limit.
  • Failing to maintain a proper look-out.
  • Failing to maintain control of the vehicle.
  • Driving under the influence or drinking and driving.

If you are insured, count yourself lucky, but remember this:

  • Notify your insurance company as soon as possible and submit a claim if relevant.
  • If you do not intend to submit a claim you should still report the accident to your insurance company. This is important because if you caused the accident, another party involved in the accident may wish to make a claim against your policy.
  • Do not allow your vehicle to be towed by any towing service other than your insurance provider’s authorised tow service.

Remember the most important part of being in an accident: Remain calm, you will be confused and disorientated. Take a deep breath and collect your thoughts.

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  AUTHOR
Juan Venter
Reporter

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