Friday, November 29, 2013
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 company can be avoided if one is mentally prepared beforehand on how to deal with such an unfortunate event.
1. Stop your vehicle
If you have injured someone or have 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. Know who the driver is
Try to obtain the particulars of the other driver (or motorcyclist) such as name, address, driving licence number and vehicle registration number. If the other driver is no co-operative, you should at least note his identity if there is 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.
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. To report or not to report?
If the accident is minor, you may wish to settle it privately with the other party instead of making a police report to file an insurance claim. Three questions to consider when deciding this are:
(1) How much non-claim bonus (aka no claims discount) do you have from your insurance company? This amount will be wiped out when you make a claim and you have to re-accumulate from point zero percent in a new cycle.
(2) Are you at fault that makes you liable to a fine? The police will fine the party at fault (RM300 or more) for having committed a traffic offence
(3) Do you have alternative transport? Usually, a loss adjuster needs to check the damaged car and approve the repairs proposed by the workshop. This is to ensure that no unnecessary parts are replaced and no unnecessary repairs are undertaken. The procedure takes time so you may be without a car for two weeks or even longer.
If there are serious injuries or death, there is no alternative but to report the accident. The time frame for a report to be lodged is within 24 hours. 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, broken glass, condition of road and 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 investigations 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. Once you get the formal report, you have to submit it to your insurance company.
Never trust any tout hanging around the traffic police station at Jalan Bandar who tries to lure you to send your car to a particular workshop with false promises. Common tricks are to say that "The fine will be secretly hidden in the repair cost which we will refund to you" or "We can lend you a car free for three days" or "We know their loss adjusters, we can get the car repaired very quickly."
These are lies, nothing but lies.
Published by Monsoon Books, Singapore. Sold in Malaysia at Kinokuniya, Popular Book Store, Borders and MPH nationwide. An e-book edition is also available. Please check out moonsoonbooks.com.sg