Car accidents can happen anywhere at any time. It doesn’t matter how defensive you are as a driver or how fast your reaction times are, it won’t stop you being injured if you are hit by a careless or reckless driver. It could be someone who has nodded off behind the wheel on a long run, a drunk driver or someone preoccupied with a conversation on their cell phone. Apart from hope that there’s someone at the scene who can ring for an ambulance to take you away to hospital do you know what you should do if you are involved in an accident?
Here’s an eight step guide that is worth keeping in your vehicle handy to remind you if you are hit by another driver, or even if you are a witness to an accident at any time.
- Keep out of further danger
Make sure you and your passengers, if any, and any other people who are involved at the accident scene, are in no further danger. This is important because of other traffic that might be passing or because of the danger of a fire, fuel explosion, or other potential dangers (e.g. if the accident involved a truck containing hazmat material).
- Ring for an ambulance
Ring for an ambulance if someone is badly injured and needs going to a hospital. It might be you, any of your passengers, or someone else at the scene of the accident. It is against the law to leave the scene of an accident when someone has been injured or has been killed without stopping.
- Call the police.
This is a common sense action if anyone has been injured. If the damage is only minor to one or other of the vehicles then it may be solved between the drivers. If not, then the police should be still called or the incident reported at a nearby police station. In New South Wales, the Police Assistance hotline can be used (131 444).
The police will record the incident and make a report. They will assign a number called the COPS Event Number after they have attended the accident scene. If you haven’t been taken to a hospital by this stage, you may be able to get the COPS number later by contacting the police or someone may have recorded it while you were not there.
- Submit an Accident Notification Form
This is something that needs to be done within 28 days of the accident. As long as you report the accident and submit a medical certificate from your doctor or from a doctor at the hospital you are taken to, then this will mean that you can claim compensation for an amount up to $5,000 for the first six months after the accident, whether you are at fault or not. Ring or email SIRA, which is the State Insurance Regulatory Authority if you are not sure who to submit the form to. You can download the form online at the SIRA site.
- Keep medical certificates and reports
If you, or someone else in your vehicle, was injured, then it is important to retain any medical certificates or medical reports that are issued at the doctor’s or at a hospital. This will be important evidence not just for the initial $5,000 compensation but if you decide to make a personal injury claim.
- Making a personal injury claim
If you were not at fault, then you may be able to make a personal injury claim with the insurer of the driver who was to blame for the accident. The insurer will be the one that has provided CTP cover for that motorist. You will need to do this within 6 months of the accident and make sure it is accompanied by a medical certificate. You are not compelled to go ahead with legal action within that time frame but submitting the accident form allows you to do so in the future.
- Check for other compensation benefits available
There may be other avenues for compensation which you may, or may not be aware of. For example, private insurance, Medicare, policies that accompany superannuation schemes, workers compensation if you were working at the time or legitimately using a work related vehicle. If you do obtain compensation through CTP eventually, you may have to refund part, or all of these extra payments.
- Talk to a compensation lawyer
Taking the step of making a personal injury claim can be quite difficult all by yourself, if not entirely impossible. Liability laws are quite complex and it is worth contacting an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer like one at the Compensation Lawyers in Sydney to provide legal advice and represent you if necessary.