Statistically, most people in the UK will have been in a car crash at some point in their lives.
While most incidents reported are very minor bumps, scrapes and collisions that don’t result in any injuries, or even insurance claims, some have disastrous effects on our property and health.
But what exactly should we do after a car crash involving another motorist? While the ‘British’ reaction would be to have a chat about how unfortunate the whole thing is and wish each other a good day, this doesn’t quite cut it these days.
Here’s our guide to handling a fender bender:
Collect all the relevant details
This is easily the most important thing to remember whenever you get into an accident in the future – no matter how big or small.
Vital details needed in any future court appearance or insurance claim include time, date, other motorists name, height, age, ethnicity, distinguishing features, car make, model, colour and of course registration.
But even after this, absolutely any other factors you can think of are worth listing down – including road conditions, weather and the offending motorist’s habits.
Call the police
If you have a phone, it’s best to call the police unless the damage is minute, saving you from needing to contend with the other driver’s version of events in any future claim.
Additionally, if you have a camera built into your phone, it’s best to take pictures of the scene, as these can be the difference between a successful legal suit that could net you a large amount of compensation or you being out of pocket.
While the police should be able to take pictures at the scene, having your own photographs is always a good idea.
Know the symptoms of whiplash
However, if you’ve got any of the symptoms of a neck problem, including whiplash – you shouldn’t even get out of your car.
Try not to move your neck if it is painful to do so, or if you even feel a small amount of fragility when you first move after the crash.
Get the other motorist involved in the collision, or a member of the public to phone for an ambulance and the 999 operator will ask the individual to relay instructions on what to do from there on.
You will likely be asked to remain as still as possible and firefighters will cut the roof of your car off so you can be removed without causing nerve damage in your spine, as this can cause paralysis if done incorrectly.
Remember: if in doubt, stay still.
If the other motorist has sustained a neck injury, impart this advice to them and urge them not to move their neck, before calling 999.
Call your lawyer when it is appropriate to do so
If you have not been injured, wait until you arrive home or at the police station before you call your lawyer.
Contacting your solicitor at the roadside will likely arise suspicions in constables and while this is obviously not illegal to do, it’s probably best just to wait until you get somewhere private before discussing your collision.
As long as you follow the instructions in this article and don’t say anything that could potentially incriminate yourself, it should be relatively safe to deal with the situation at the roadside.
Contact your insurance company
After you have talked to your lawyer, it’s a good idea to let your insurance company know about the situation.
Your lawyer should have briefed you on how to deal with your insurers, but you should always fill out any forms correctly and answer any questions truthfully, as neglecting to do this could cause problems for both you and your legal team in the future.
According to the AA: “A failure to comply with these obligations can mean two offences are being committed: failing to stop and failing to report. It is possible to be guilty of either or both.
“The penalties for each offence include a maximum fine of £5,000 and five to ten penalty points. The court also has the power to disqualify you from driving for either offence and is likely to do so when both offences are committed on the same occasion.”
License: Creative Commons
Francesca Witney writes on behalf of the driving solicitors Slater & Gordon Lawyers.