Yes, we know it’s not a great subject to think about. But, it is useful to know what to do if you have a car accident.

If you are ever in a collision your legs might turn to jelly and your brain won’t work, that’s normal. Take a couple of deep breaths before you get out of the car and then follow this advice.

The first thing you should do is to see if anyone is injured. If you or anyone else is hurt then call an ambulance. It’s important to see a doctor if you are injured, no matter how slight. This is because if you want to make a personal injury claim you will need to have a report from a doctor or a hospital.

Always call the police if:

• The other driver seems to be drunk or he or she is aggressive towards you

• The other driver can’t produce their insurance details or refuses to swap information

• The other driver doesn’t stop

Otherwise, if you have just had a mild bump you can deal with the matter between yourselves.

when you get home phone your insurance company
as soon as you can.

At the scene

Swap names, addresses and insurance details with the other driver. If any witnesses come forward make a note of their details too. Next, if you have your phone with you take some photographs. Take some pictures of the damage to both vehicles. Include a shot of the other car’s make and registration number.

Also, use your camera to take photos of the location and the weather conditions. You’ll need to remember:

• The date and time the accident happened

• How it happened

• The conditions of the road – was the traffic heavy or light?

• Weather conditions – Was it sunny, or was visibility poor due to rain or fog?

• The damage both cars sustained

At home

When you get home phone your insurance company as soon as you can. They’ll send or email you some forms to fill in. Then make yourself a hot drink and sit down with your computer or a pen and paper. Now write down what you remember about the accident. Do this as soon as you can while your memory is still fresh

If you start to feel ill during the day go to the doctors or A&E. You might have whiplash or a head injury. You don’t always feel the symptoms at the time. 

Your Car

If your car won’t start after the accident, or it is badly damaged it will be towed away to a garage. Your insurance company will send an insurance assessor to have a look at your car. The assessor will decide whether it is repairable or not. If it is a write-off your insurers will make you an offer for your car based on the market value.

Policy Excess

Most insurance policies carry an excess. The insurance company will deduct the excess charge from the final payment. For example, if the agreed market value is £10,000 and you have a policy excess of £400, your final payment will be £9,600.

Claiming Uninsured Losses

If the accident wasn’t your fault you can claim uninsured losses. You claim these from the other driver’s insurance. Sometimes your own insurance company will offer this service. If not, you can do it yourself or use an uninsured loss company. If you are claiming for an injury though, it’s probably best to see a solicitor.

If you’re dealing with an uninsured driver, then you might have to use the small claims court if they don’t pay up. Be careful though before you spend money chasing the debt. It could be that the other driver doesn’t have a job and lives in rented accommodation. You might end up getting nothing and you’ll have spent extra on court costs.

If you want to make an injury claim and the other driver isn’t insured, you can make a claim with the Motor Insurance Bureau. They deal with claims against uninsured drivers or drivers that the police can’t find.

But, if the driver has insurance you can claim for the following: 

• Your policy excess

• Personal injury

• Loss of earnings

• Reasonable expenses in making an uninsured loss claim

• Court costs if necessary

Car Hire

Insurance companies are notorious for arguing about car hire, so stick to your guns. You can’t hire anything bigger than your own car. It has to be the same engine size or smaller. 

You can only hire for a reasonable amount of time. You shouldn’t hire a car for more than six days after you have received your settlement money. If you do, it is unlikely you will get paid for the extra days.

If you find you are too shocked to gather all the information, just remember the most important details you will need are the other driver’s name and address, the insurance details and the car registration. 

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