What to make a note of at an accident scene

We think we know what to do in the event of an accident, but do we? Importantly, we have to make sure that we follow some procedures for insurance purposes.

The first thing to do is to take down the relevant information from the other party or parties involved in the accident, as well as witnesses. This info should include full names and surnames, ID numbers, home, work and cellphone numbers, physical addresses, email addresses and car registrations.

Next, assess the extent of the damage to your car. If you have a camera with you (cellphone camera is fine), take pictures of the accident from different angles. Also take close-ups of damages to your vehicle and other vehicles involved. Also take down a description of the vehicles and names and contact details of any police officials, ambulance personnel and tow-truck drivers on the scene.

Make a note of what happened before and after the accident. Was the other driver intoxicated, talking on a cellphone, driving too fast or driving negligently? Where did the accident occur and at what time? What were the road conditions like? Visibility?

According to Vinay Padayachee, the managing director of Virgin Money South Africa, all these details help if you want to make a claim against your insurance and claim the costs of repairs from the third party.

Padayachee also says you should never admit liability for the crash, even if you think you may have been at fault. Simply give the facts when you report the accident and don’t sign a written statement until you’ve consulted your insurer or attorney, which is your right.

Be as factual and detailed as possible, as well as unemotional. When you submit a claim, the more supporting evidence you have the better. And make sure your passengers know what needs to be made a note of, as if you’re the driver and you’re injured or unconscious, your passengers’ testimony will be key.

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