If you think that wrecked vehicles and physical injuries are the only dangers in a car accident, you’re mistaken. What you do in the aftermath of even a minor car accident can have serious health, financial and legal consequence.
If you’re ever in an accident, never do the following nine things.
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1. Flee the scene
It’s a legal requirement for anyone involved in an accident to remain on the scene and to provide the other party in the accident with their name, Rego number and contact details. This includes even minor accidents in parking lots if these cause any sort of damage to another person’s car. If the other party is not present after the accident you are required to leave a note with these details.
2. Leave your car in the road
If you’re able to drive your car after the accident, pull it off the road and out of the path of other road users. In the event that you can’t drive the vehicle, use any available hazard signals, including hazard lights, reflective warning triangles, flares or orange beacons to make the accident scene more visible.
3. Loiter near the accident scene
Once you have taken steps to make the accident scene visible move off the road. Secondary accidents are common in the aftermath of car crashes, even when the cars involved have been pulled over into the emergency lane. Move off the road entirely.
4. Interfere with the accident scene
This applies to accidents which result in serious injury or death. Do not attempt to make any adjustments to your vehicle or the scene of the accident, which includes removing debris from the road. This can be regarded as tampering with evidence at a crime scene.
5. Become aggressive
Emotions can run high after an accident, particularly if one or both parties feels the other is to blame for the incident. Avoid confrontations after accidents at all costs. If the other driver is belligerent or threatening after the incident contact the police immediately. Refrain from expressing anger or engaging in any behaviour that could be perceived as intimidating or threatening or you could find yourself on the receiving end of an assault charge.
6. Admit fault
Multiple factors can result in an accident, ranging from inattention to mechanical failure of one of the vehicles involved. The aftermath of an accident, when you are in shock, is not a suitable time to attempt to establish fault in the incident. Don’t apologize and also avoid blaming the other party for the accident. Rather than discussing who is to blame, photograph the accident scene to provide third parties with accurate information they can use to establish fault in the incident.
7. Fail to disclose the accident to your insurer
In some states it is a legal requirement to report any car accident that results in injury or death to your insurance company. Failure to do so can result in a fine and even prison time. Failing to disclose minor accidents may result in voiding your insurance cover.
8. Rely on your memory
Take written notes, or a voice note if necessary, as soon as you can after an accident. Record the basic facts of the accident – where it occurred, how it happened and your speed while you were driving. Then record as much additional detail as possible. You’re likely to start forgetting minor details of the accident soon after the accident occurs, and some of these could potentially assist you in dealing with the financial and legal consequences of the incident in future.
9. Ignore symptoms of injury after an accident
Even low speed accidents can cause serious injuries which can be masked by the initial adrenaline surge you experience after the incident. If you experience any physical discomfort following the accident get in touch with your doctor and ask for their advice.