Nobody wants to be involved in an accident, but the unfortunate reality is that accidents happen, despite whether you’re at fault or not.
According to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, there were 5,116 injury road traffic collisions recorded in 2022. Sadly, 55 people died as a result, 910 people were seriously injured and 6,881 were slightly injured.
So, what should you do if you’re involved in an accident?
Follow this 10-step checklist.
1. Stay calm.
Being involved in an accident can be very stressful.
Your body’s adrenaline ‘fight or flight’ response will kick in and may even mask the pain of any injuries.
It’s at this stage you have to try to remain calm.
Long deep inhales and exhales of breath will get your heartrate back to normal.
Depending on where your accident occurs, you might need to exit your vehicle and get to a safe place off the road.
2. Keep the conversation simple.
Check on the other driver and make sure they’re ok.
When speaking to the driver, remain calm and composed.
You might want to use your mobile phone to type in details, or take photographs as quickly as possible.
3. Never admit responsibility.
As we discussed earlier, people involved in an accident can be stressed and pumped with adrenaline.
That’s not the best time to ascertain who was at fault or admit responsibility.
And admitting responsibility even when you believe you’re at fault is not helpful; leave the determination of that to another time.
4. Contact the police.
If it’s a serious accident, call 999.
If it’s a minor collision, call the non-emergency number, 101.
This is a vital step as you may need a record of the police’s accident report later at the request of insurance companies or legal reprensentatives.
Irrespective of whether there are any injuries or vehicle damage, contacting the police is of utmost importance.
Offers of money to fix the damage by the other driver should not be readily accepted; some vehicle damage or bodily injuries aren’t always apparent immediately after impact.
5. Gather witnesses.
In our era of dash cams, mounted traffic cameras and mobile phones, potential evidence is there if you look for it.
After a collision, get the details for any witnesses; ask for their name, telephone numbers, registration plates etc.
If you notice any of the witnesses with a dash cam, share your email address and ask them to email you the footage, which might come in handy during later investigations.
6. Exchange contact information.
It’s important to have witnesses that can back up your version of events.
But even more important is to have their correct contact details.
Some people are hesitant to get involved or share their contact details but if you believe they saw the accident, if its another driver take down their make, model and colour of car and registration plate.
That means the police can contact them should they need clarification on any part of the collision.
Exchange contact details with the driver of the vehicle you collided with too.
This should include the time of the collision, registration plate of the other vehicle, other driver’s name, location of the collision, insurance company’s name, drivers licence number, telephone number, and anything else you feel is essential.
7. Take good photos and notes.
We’re lucky in 2020 to have mobile phones of similar quality to a professional photographer.
After a collision, walk around your car and take as many photographs as you can from different angles.
Then go over to the other vehicle and repeat this exercise.
After taking photos of both cars separately now take several photographs of both vehicles together, capturing the area around the collision too.
Write down in your notes an estimate of your speed before the collision, which direction you were going and general road conditions.
Avoid discussing any details of the collision with the other driver; leave it until the ‘dust settles’ to ascertain what fault, if any, exists on either party.
8. Speak calmly to the police.
When the police arrive at the scene, recount your story.
We know it’s a stressful time but try to leave out emotion and keep your story factual.
Show the police all the notes you have written down and share anything else you feel is relevant to the report.
9. Call CRASH Services on 028 9066 0244
CRASH are NI’s largest accident management company and can take care of everything after an accident. They can arrange vehicle recovery, collision investigation, organise repairs, provide a replacement vehicle, liaise with insurance companies and offer legal and medical assistance.
Thankfully, since you followed the previous eight points in this blog, you will be able to recount all of the facts from the collision quite quickly.
CRASH aim to take away the hassle from an accident and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.There is no fee for the accident management service as all costs are recovered from insurers involved.
10. Please don’t feel ashamed: it happens to us all.
A lot of people feel a sense of shame and guilt after an accident.
But nobody leaves their house with the intention of causing accidents, so don’t feel ashamed or guilty.
Regardless of whether it was your fault or not, accidents happen.
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