The likelihood is that the majority of us at some point in our lives will be involved in a car accident which could be a major or a minor prang. These situations can be highly emotional, many of us will not be thinking straight and we may end up saying things which we regret. There are obviously many things to take into account which we will cover below but the main thing is to try and remain calm and initially keep your thoughts to yourself.
Immediately After A Collision
The first thing you need to do immediately after any kind of collision is to check for any injuries to drivers, passengers and those passing by. If required this is the point at which the police and ambulance services should be informed to ensure the well-being of all involved.
Once everybody has been assessed we often hear of volatile arguments, shouting and swearing which does not bode well. If you are involved in a traffic accident it is vital that you stay calm because the last thing you want witnesses to remember is you shouting and bawling at the scene.
Should You Admit Fault?
Aside from the fact there have been a growing number of fraudulent road accident claims across the UK, you should never admit fault at the scene. Unfortunately history shows us that many people are in a heightened state of emotion and admit fault in front of witnesses where in hindsight, upon further official investigations, this might not be the case. When you see people injured it can be very easy to put your hands up in the air and admit fault in the heat of the moment – fight this feeling!
Even if the police are called it is worth remembering that no driver is obliged to admit fault at the scene of any “crime” and the worst they can do is ask for a witness statement. Once all of the witness statements have been gathered then the authorities, if required, will begin their investigation. Many innocent drivers have fallen victim to this simple mistake – very often witnesses are called in court cases to confirm the driver admitted fault even though they were not to blame.
Complicating Accident Claims
If you speak to any insurance company the first piece of advice they will give you is never admit fault at the scene of an accident. Time and time again drivers mistakenly admit fault only to find there were other circumstances outside of their control. If you wrongly admit fault and you are exonerated it can still have a significant impact upon any potential compensation claims.
Insurance companies have expert teams who attend road traffic accidents and are able to carry out checks to confirm exactly what happened. Leave it to the experts, wait until they provide their report and then speak with your insurance company.
There are many simple actions you can take to protect yourself in the event of a road accident which include:-
Taking witness details where possible
If you have ever been involved in an accident the likelihood is that there will have been witnesses to the event. How many times further down the line have you wished you took the details of witnesses when the case finally comes to court or a settlement is agreed between insurance companies? Not all witnesses will agree to testify in court but you could be lucky and find someone willing to describe how the accident occurred.
Carry a camera in your car
You should consider using dashboard cams, disposable cameras or even the camera on your mobile phone to take pictures of the scene and any damage. When you consider how widely available these products are it is a surprise that more people do not make use of them when the time arises. Numerous traffic accidents have been resolved with third party photographic evidence passed to insurance investigators who can often tell who was at fault.
Take note of your concerns and observations
Again, while this is easier said than done, it is vital that you take note of your concerns and observations at the scene. Did you suspect that the other driver was on their mobile phone? Were they fully concentrated on the road at the time of the incident?
It is easy to shrug these concerns and observations aside but if you pass on your suspicions about somebody using a mobile phone while driving, it just takes one other witness to corroborate your evidence and a case can be made. Some people may choose to write down their observations and concerns once they get home, and they have calmed down, but very often the incident can quickly become hazy. Would you remember all of the details?
Leave it to the experts
Those drivers of a more caring nature are very often the ones who admit fault at the scene of an accident only to find it was not actually down to them. This is why insurance companies have teams of accident investigators who study scenes to clarify exactly what happened, who was at fault and any action which should be taken. Once you have admitted liability then this seriously undermines your case even in the event that your initial admission was proved to be incorrect. The potential repercussions with regards to compensation, claims and counter claims can be extremely distressing and may prove costly.