There are few things as frustrating as a car accident. Even if nobody is hurt and the damage is only to the vehicles, it can be time consuming and costly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how great of a driver you are, accidents happen all the time.

Sometimes it’s pretty clear who is at fault and both parties recall the incident with the same clarity and conviction. At other times it gets far more complicated. That’s why it’s important that you follow certain procedures immediately after the accident.

Stop – This may sound like common sense and to most people it is. But people react very differently after an accident. Fleeing the scene isn’t always a sign of guilt, though. Some people are simply in shock and can’t think straight. Their “fight or flight” instinct kicks in and they take off. This is the worst possible thing you could do.

Check if everyone is okay – The damage to your car is obviously a concern, but it should not be your biggest concern. The first thing you want to do is check that all parties are safe and that there are no injuries. If there are any injuries, you should call for medical assistance.

Alert the traffic – Switch your hazards on (if possible) and try to move your car out of the way so that you don’t obstruct traffic or cause another accident.

Don’t take the blame – Don’t admit fault. If you caused the accident you may feel the need to apologise profusely. Don’t do that. That’s a matter for the police and your insurance to investigate. If this matter ends up in court, your words could harm your case.

Call the police and your insurance – This is not something that can or should be dealt with between the parties involved. The police should be involved and you need to alert your insurance so you can find out exactly what they need from you. And if you feel this may end up in a legal dispute, call your legal cover provider to alert them and get advice.

Get all the necessary information – Assuming there are no injuries, or after these have been dealt with, it is important to get all the details necessary – it is a legal requirement that each driver provide some basic details. Get the other driver’s full name, addresses, telephone numbers (cellphone and home) and car insurance details such as company, policy number (if possible). Also, it is important to get the other car’s details, including license plate number, make (for example “Ford”) and model (for example “fiesta”). It is also important to write down the time, date, and the address where the accident occurred,” advises carinfo.co.za.

Car accidents are never an easy thing to deal with. But you should always follow procedure, no matter how emotional or shaken up you are. You want to be prepared if there is a legal dispute. It’s also a good idea to take photographs at the scene of the accident.

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