Crash, boom, BANG

2014-06-22 15:00

Whether it’s a fender-bender or an all-out traffic-stopping accident, most of us have gone through the mind-numbing shock of being in an ­accident.

Here’s what you need to do when you are involved in a car accident

When a driver reversed into the front bumper of my new car last month, I was not too fazed. But a few weeks later, when a taxi drove into the back of my car, knocking me right off the road, I was numb with shock.

To make matters worse, the taxi driver refused to give me any of his details. Luckily, the tow truck driver took pity on me and sorted everything out.

MiWay’s head of online marketing, Rory Judd, says the first thing to remember is that you are required by law to stop your vehicle if you are in an accident with another vehicle.

Robyn Farrell, the executive head of 1st for Women Insurance, points out that you could face a fine or be sent to prison or both if you fail to stop after an accident.

You are also required by law to give your full names, ID number, address, contact numbers and the registration number of your vehicle to the other person or people involved in the accident.

If the other driver refuses to cooperate or give you any of their details (as in my case), request for a police officer to attend the scene when you call 10111 to report the accident.

The other driver is obliged to give his or her details to the attending police officer who can then share those details with you.

It is also a good idea to take photographs at the scene of the accident: the other vehicles that are involved, the location of the vehicles on the scene, the damages, as well as the vehicle registration plates.

Judd points out that these details are important if you need to claim from your insurance company or the Road Accident Fund, or if you want to claim the costs of repairs from the other party.

The information that has been captured will come in handy at a later stage during the processing of your claim.

It will also assist the investigation if there are any disagreements later, for example, regarding the extent of the damage to either vehicle.

If someone who was not involved in the accident but saw what happened stops to help, try get their details so you have a credible witness to verify your account of the accident.

Both drivers must report the accident at the nearest police station within 24 hours. Ideally, you should meet at the police station so you fill in one accident report form.

If you are injured and cannot report the accident immediately, you must do so as soon as possible and explain the reason for the delay.

You will be issued an accident report number, which your insurer will also ask for when processing your insurance claim.

Most insurers will require you to lodge your insurance claim within 30 days of the accident.

You can either phone your insurer or broker to lodge the claim or check your insurer’s website to see if you can submit the claim online.


Claim rejected?

Your insurance claim is likely to be rejected under the following circumstances:

.?If you were drunk at the time of the accident;

.?If you were driving recklessly;

.?If your policy has a specified driver named and an unauthorised person was driving;

.?If your vehicle was not maintained properly and this led to the accident occurring, for example, smooth tyres; and

.?If you use your car in a car pool arrangement and you accept money from your passengers, which is considered business use. If you fail to disclose this arrangement to your insurer upfront, your claim can be rejected.

The dos and don’ts after an accident

. Stop immediately and turn on your emergency lights.

.?Call 10111 to report the accident and request an ambulance if required.

.?If a person or animal has been injured, you are not allowed to move the vehicles. If the car is obstructing traffic completely, you are allowed to move the car to one side but only after you have marked its original location with chalk or spray paint.

.?Take note of what happened immediately before and after the accident in as much detail as you can.

.?Make a note of the place and time of the accident, the road conditions and the visibility at the time.

.?Use a camera or cellphone to take photos of the accident scene from different angles. Get close-up photos of damage for insurance purposes.

.?Get the contact details of the other party involved in the accident?–?you need their full name, contact numbers (landline and cell number), address, ID number and car registration number. If you can, you should also take down the vehicle identity number (VIN), which is visible on the car’s licence disc. Check that the car is licensed.

.?Get the contact details of the paramedics, traffic officers and tow truck drivers on the scene so you can verify any accident details later.

.?Don’t admit liability for the accident even if you think you may have caused it. When making your statement to the police, give the essential details only and do not sign a written statement of liability without first consulting your insurance company or an attorney.

.?If your vehicle needs towing, only use a service authorised by your insurance company. Contact your insurer immediately and only allow your car to be towed once the insurer has given you the go-ahead.

.?If you do not have tow cover with your insurance company, ask the tow truck driver for a quote before your vehicle is towed away.

.?Write down the name, contact details and registration number of the driver and tow truck and find out where your vehicle is being taken.

.?Make sure you have cleared your vehicle of all your personal belongings and make a note of the condition the vehicle is in before it is towed.

For example, if your vehicle was hit from the rear but the battery is missing, then you may have been the victim of an unscrupulous tow truck driver.

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