Having a road accident can be one of the most frightening experiences anyone will experience, but it’s made all the more harrowing knowing that you played a role in it.
If you’ve been involved in an accident through your action or inaction, it’s vital you understand how to act and what to do to ensure the best outcome for everybody. At u-Law, our goal is to help everyone better navigate the legal processes surrounding road accidents. To help you better understand your rights and responsibilities after an accident you helped cause, we’ve prepared this short guide. Read on and make a more informed choice.
First things first, don’t panic. Being involved in an accident is always stressful, especially when you’re at fault, but you need to remain calm. After an accident, you’re going to need to be able to act in a level-headed way. Your insurance company and other organisations may require details of the accident, and panicking could affect your ability to recall and provide this information. So right after an accident, take some deep breaths, count to ten, and be prepared to take notes.
Do not admit fault
It’s tempting upon stepping out of the car to immediately apologise to the other driver. While your good manners would normally be welcome, admitting fault at the scene of accident can have serious legal and financial ramifications.
You are neither required nor advised to admit fault to other parties at the scene of the accident, regardless of the situation. In fact, doing so may lead to the cancellation of your insurance policy, leaving you exposed to serious financial consequences. It is advised that you simply jot down the events leading up to the crash for later relation to your insurance provider.
Exchange details with the other driver
Just like any accident, it’s vital that you exchange details with all other drivers involved in the accident. You need to at the very least provide your name, your address, your vehicle details and a method of contact. Make sure you collect the same from the other drivers. Other information that can be useful to gain at this stage is the licence numbers of all drivers, their phone numbers and their insurance company’s name and policy number. Where the driver of the vehicle is not the registered owner, the name, address and phone number of the registered owner must be provided, so be aware of this in case you or another driver involved in the crash are borrowing a friend or partner’s car.
Note that it is an offence to refuse to provide your details to other parties involved in the accident, and they may be required to report the accident to the police for investigation.
Do I need to involve the police?
Different state police departments have different criteria for involving them in the event of an accident. In many cases, police state that they are only to be involved in an accident where one of the parties is injured, violent, uncooperative or suspected to be intoxicated. Police may also request to be involved if there is serious property damage, or if a driver refuses to provide their information. Police should also be called if a driver does not stop after the accident and flees the scene.
Inform your insurance provider
After you’ve gotten away from the scene of the crash, it’s vital that you contact your insurer as soon as possible. Your insurer will require you to provide an account of the accident as part of their investigation which will determine your degree of culpability.
As such, admitting fault to the other driver at the scene of the accident can lead to you paying for a larger share of the resulting costs than you otherwise would. In many cases, drivers who believe themselves to be wholly at fault are partially absolved or have their role in causing the crash minimised as part of the insurance investigation process. Through the investigation, the company may determine that the other driver(s) is not without fault and shares some responsibility for the accident.
If you do not have insurance
In the event that you do not have insurance, you will still be required to provide contact and licence details to the other parties. The insurance company representing the other party will then contact you directly as part of their investigation and will present you with a bill for any damages suffered by the other driver.
These damages will need to be paid out of pocket, and failure to do so may result in the insurance company taking legal action against you to secure payment.
What if I am injured?
If you are injured in a crash that you contributed to, you are still eligible to claim coverage from the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) fund. Culpability does not affect the level of coverage provided by the TAC, so if you require assistance with medical bills after a road accident, expect the same level of support as everyone else.
To learn more about how you can make smarter decisions in the wake of a road accident, schedule a consultation with the legal team at u-Law. Call us today on 1300 166 022 to learn what we can do for you.