Dealing With Your Car Accident. What You Need To Know

One person died in this three-car crash. (KATU News photo)

Being involved in a car accident is one of life’s great traumas. No matter how small or how damaging, the fact is that any accident can be difficult to deal with. Aside from any mental scars, there is the possibility of serious injury and even death. Cars travelling at speed can kill people. When two cars collide or even more, the additional impact can be devastating. The result can wreck lives.

The truth is that this is something that everyone will probably have to deal with at some point in their driving lives. Therefore, it will make sense for you to have a plan and procedure to follow. This will make it much easier for you to deal with any fallout. It will also help you to process any insurance claims. It may even help you to get your life back on track and get you behind the wheel again.



Assuming that there will be an accident, you will want to ensure that you are not in any way at fault. This might sound a little off the wall. The fact is legally, even if the accident is not your fault, you may well be liable to prosecution in certain circumstances. That means that you have to make sure that your driving licence is fully valid and in date. It should not be expired or cancelled. Your car must to all intents and purposes be roadworthy. That means is must have a current MOT or Warrant of Fitness. Even if the fault is not with you, if your tyres were bald for example, you may well be prosecuted.

If you are driving with any alcohol in your system, then you could be breathalysed and even charged as a result of the accident. Make sure that your insurance covers you and that you understand what if any excess payment you will have to make in the event of a claim. The best thing you can do before you drive anywhere is to ensure that whatever happens you cannot be held liable for driving illegally. The same precautions apply to any distractions such as cell phones.

The accident.

Most accidents happen just like that, in a flash. You find yourself in a situation that suddenly is out of your control. There may well be very little to do can do about what happens in those few quick moments. That short space of time may well seem and feel like an eternity, but in reality, it will just be a matter of seconds. If you have the presence of mind and have not already done so, apply the brakes of the car and pull over as soon as you can safely do so. It is mandatory in most countries for a driver to stop if you have any reason to believe there has been a collision. It is always a good idea to check. If you have collided with another vehicle, person or animal, stop your vehicle as soon as you can. Nothing can be improved by driving away from the scene of an accident.

Treat injury and make the scene safe.

Your priority is to make sure that anyone who appears to be injured is safe and as comfortable as possible. If you have no first aid skills, and someone needs treatment, ask if there is anyone present who is qualified.

From Flikr
From Flikr

If you haven’t already done so, then call the emergency services. The Police will be your first port of call. It will affect any claim you make. Don’t be persuaded that this is somehow not necessary. It is necessary and advisable.

If you can and you have the presence of mind, it will be a good idea to take some pictures with your phone of the vehicles and their positions. If you are blocking a road and your car can be moved then you may well have to reposition your vehicle. A photo of the junction or scene of the accident will be invaluable.

Talk to the other driver or drivers involved. See if you can establish what happened between you. Try and avoid any conflict or argument and stay as calm as you can. Get the details of the driver and make a note of the registration number of the vehicle. The best thing that you can do is to get the names and contact numbers of any witnesses. Ask them if you can contact them later and if they would be willing to give testimony on your behalf.

Stay on the scene until the police arrive if that is going to happen. They will ask for your details and be able to advise you of your rights and your obligations. Try and contact a friend or family member and let them know what has happened. If you are unable to drive your vehicle, then you will need someone to take you home and ensure that you are alright. Contact your employer as soon as you can and explain what has happened.

After the accident.

It is not a good idea to agree to anything regarding liability at the scene. One of the reasons for this is that you may not be thinking straight. Contact your insurance company and explain what happened. They will take you through the process and help you start your claim. If you have suffered any injury, then you must get that assessed and treated. Shock is a very strange thing and it may prevent you from realising that you are in pain or discomfort. If you have been injured, you may well be entitled to compensation. Talk to a legal and professional company about how to go about making motor accident compensation claims. Getting the right representation will help your case immensely.

Have your vehicle repaired and checked

Hopefully, this part is quite smooth. A garage will be able to tell your insurance company if your car is worth repairing or it is a write-off. That means you will be offered the amount to purchase a new vehicle. If your car can be repaired, once collected it should be as good as new. Ask about the use of a courtesy car for the duration of the repair process.

Getting back in the car

From Flickr
From Flickr

It is not easy getting back behind the wheel after an accident. Your confidence may well have suffered and you may well feel concerned about your safety. You will need to make sure that your insurance is valid and that any claims you have made will not affect your premium. Talk to your insurers about this as there may well be ways for you to save on your insurance after an accident.

One thing that can help your confidence and safety is to go on a safe driving course. This will give you strategies to cope with many situations and you may well find that your driving and awareness improves as a result.

Dealing with the shock and trauma of an accident is not always an easy process. It feels personal but it is not. The chances were slim and you may well have just been unlucky that day. Most accidents are resolved and most drivers get back behind the wheel with no problem. It does make you think more deeply about your safety and your mortality. You will look more closely at the safety features of your next vehicle very closely indeed. Airbags and stability control are two of the features that can help you stay safe. Hopefully, you will be able to enjoy many years of trouble free motoring and leave the memories of any accident far behind.

Emily Muelford
Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.