Friday, October 26, 2012

What to do in case of an accident

Shock suffered by the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident often results in confusion. Such a state of mind may lead to doing the wrong things or forgetting to do the right things immediately after the accident. Problems with the police and the insurance companies can be avoided if one is mentally prepared beforehand on how to deal with such an unfortunate event.

1. Stop your vehicle
If you injured someone or damaged either government or private property, you have to stop at the scene of the accident. Examples of government property include traffic lights, lamp posts, signboards, fire hydrants and suchlike.

2. Provide or phone for medical assistance
If anyone is injured, either phone for an ambulance immediately or flag down another vehicle to transport the injured to the nearest hospital. The first option is preferable as an ambulance can move through heavy traffic faster since other vehicles will give way. In the meantime, give first aid to the injured if you are trained to do so.

3. Warn other motorists
Smashed-up vehicles lying in the middle of the road or at a bend pose a risk to other vehicles. This risk of further accidents is even greater at night. If possible, have someone stationed a short distance away to warn other approaching vehicles. Use lights or reflectors if they are available. At the worst, placing a broken tree branch on the road is even better than nothing.

4. Know who the driver is
Try to obtain the particulars of the other driver (or motorcycle rider) such as name, address, driving licence number, and vehicle registration number. If the other driver is not co-operative, you should at the very least note his identity if the other vehicle has more than one occupant. There have been instances where a drunk driver has "swapped" places with a sober passenger. Also, make sure you jot down the other vehicle's registration number as soon as possible. Don't disregard the possibility that the other driver will just drive off!

5. Don't argue or comment
The driver of the other vehicle may blame you for the accident. Worse, a busybody bystander may get involved and pass judgment. Never admit fault or argue with anybody as it does not serve any purpose.

6. Witnesses
Obtain the names and addresses of people who witnessed the accident. Even the registration numbers of vehicles which were trailing behind the victim's vehicles prior to the mishap are useful. The drivers of such vehicles can be contacted later by the authorities and interviewed.

7. Report the accident
Although an accident has to be reported within 24 hours, it is best to report it immediately. Once a report is lodged, an officer will decide whether the accident needs investigation. If it does, the officer will go to the scene to take measurements and record important observations such as skid marks, condition of road, presence of traffic signs, etc. Before you make any statement to the police,
remember that you have the right to consult a lawyer. Be co-operative to the investigation officer and explain how the accident occurred. You will only be issued with a report number at this stage. A formal written report is available after only a few days.

8. Go to a doctor for a physical check-up
If you suffered any knock to any part of your body, it is best to consult a doctor. Some kinds of serious injuries do not result in immediate pain or external bleeding.

9. Report to the insurance company
Report to your insurance company within 14 days. You have to fill in forms and furnish a copy of the police report. However, a few insurance companies obtain the police report direct from the police station themselves.


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