Here’s what to do if you’ve been in a car accident

By Keletso Mpisane, Head of Blink by MiWay

Car accidents are scary and overwhelming ordeals. Unfortunately, they can happen at any place and time. This makes it   important for drivers to equip themselves with the knowledge to cope when in a crash.

It's difficult to focus while the shock and injuries of an accident are fresh. This is why Keletso Mpisane, Head of Blink by MiWay says, “it’s crucial to know what to do, who to contact, and what steps must be taken after a crash.”

Knowing these crucial steps ahead of time will help you minimise uncertainty in these dreadful situations.

Step 1: Know who to call to put safety first

Turn the car off and make sure those in your vehicle are safe. If anyone needs urgent medical care, call emergency services by dialling 112 on your phone. This works on any mobile network; the number will connect you to a call centre that will get you help from the nearest hospital.

If any passengers or pedestrians have been injured, or if there is damage to property, you should not move the vehicles and you must remain at the scene until a police vehicle arrives according to the law

“If you are injured and unable to call for an ambulance, Blink by MiWay users have an app that can detect a serious car crash and alert our 24/7 emergency call centre,” says Mpisane.

You can then turn the hazard lights on, especially if the accident took place at night or there is low visibility. Check on people in the other vehicle, and if anyone is badly injured, none of the vehicles should be moved until a police officer has cleared it.

Step 2: Once help is on the way, start taking down details

Get the emergency warning triangle out of your car, it’s usually stored in the boot, and place it at least 45 meters behind the crash scene to alert other drivers to slow down.

Now your phone can help you get details for all the paperwork that will come later. Record information like the date, time, the weather,the accident location and other party's details. Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle and kindly ask the other driver if you can take images of their car.

Here’s a checklist of what you need from other vehicles involved in the accident:

  • Full names of other drivers and owner if the owner differs.
  • ID numbers of other drivers.
  • Cellphone and other contact numbers of the owner and driver.
  • Insurance details like the name of their insurance company and policy number.
  • If any of the drivers are driving a company vehicle, get the details of their employer too.
  • Take down the details of the vehicle/s, including: the make, model, colour and registration number.

“It’s also a good idea to get contact details for people who saw the accident happen, as this can help you when your insurance is processing your claim,” says the Blink by MiWay Head.

Step 3: Now you have the details, it's time to make calls

You can now call your insurer to let them know about the accident and arrange for a tow truck.

“Only use a towing service that’s authorised by your insurance provider,” says Mpisane. “Don’t let tow truck drivers move your vehicle before you have authorisation from your insurer for the towing services, a quote and recorded their name, contact details and vehicle registration number.”

If you can still drive the car because there was only light damage, follow your insurer’s instructions about what to do next.

Step 4: Have information on hand for the paperwork

You have to file an accident report at a police station within 24 hours of the accident. “Even if you think it’s just minor damage, you must get an accident report number to claim with your insurer,” says Mpisane.

This is where the details you collected at the scene will be crucial. Accident reports are very detailed and your insurer will want information such as:

  • The time and location of the incident.
  • The details of the parties and their vehicles.
  • The road conditions (this is why you should note the weather).
  • If liquor or drug use was suspected and if anyone was tested on the scene.

a sketch  and  description  of the accident.

“The accident report number is pivotal for insurers to process claims. This information is used to validate the claim,” says Mpisane. “Both accident reports and insurance claim forms need clear details of the accident. Be honest  about the facts of the accident on these forms.”

While these immediate steps can be a lot to take in, being prepared in these unpredictable situations can save you time and bring peace of mind.