Car accidents are unfortunately a frequent occurrence on South African roads. Road accidents can be a traumatising experience for everyone involved. If you travel on South African roads, it is important to know what to do after a car accident. Knowing how to deal with the situation is vital especially if somebody is injured. It is also essential to follow the right procedures for legal reasons. When it comes to car accidents in South Africa there is a high rate of fatalities. According to the South African Road Federation, our country has the second highest mortality rate in Africa.
Here are practical guidelines of how to proceed if you find yourself in a road accident:
Stop your car and make sure that everyone is safe
If you are involved in a collision, it is important that you stop your car straight away. Make sure that you choose a safe place to stop. Leaving the scene of car accidents in South Africa is an illegal offense. Whether there is damaged property or injured people, the law requires that you pull over if you were involved in the collision. Once you have stopped your car, turn it off and secure the scene. Make sure that the area is safe by turning on your hazard lights and alerting other motorists to the incident. It is important to make sure that the accident does not result in a second collision or further injury.
Call an ambulance for major car accidents
If someday has been badly injured, don’t move them as it can cause further injury. Phone an ambulance immediately so that the injured person can receive professional medical attention. Remember not to touch blood with your bare skin as blood can carry diseases. A first aid kit can come in handy in this situation.
Don’t accept liability for the accident
Once you are safe it is important not to panic. When you are talking to the other drivers make sure that you do not accept liability for the accident. If you say that you are to blame for the collision, it can result in legal complications. Rather let the insurance company assess the accident to determine who is liable for the damage.
Report road accidents to the police
In car accidents where someone has been injured, phone the police straight away. It is also advisable to contact the police if the accident is causing a hazard on the road or if someone has fled the scene without providing their details. For smaller accidents, make sure that you file a police report within 24 hours as a case number is required for insurance purposes.
Collect important information
According to South African law, all the parties who were part of the accident must swop their personal information. Make sure you write down the driver’s personal and insurance details as well as providing them with your information. It is also advisable to note down any other information that is relevant to the accident. Once you have a record of the necessary information, take a photo with your mobile phone or camera, or draw a sketch of the scene. This will provide valuable insight into how the cars were positioned and what the damage is.
Report the accident to your insurance company
Report the accident to your insurance company straight away and provide them with the relevant information. If the damage to your vehicle is so severe that it cannot be driven, you will need to have it towed. There are often many tow truck drivers at the scene of road accidents and it is your right to choose a tow truck driver without being forced to use a specific service provider. If towing is included in your insurance policy, call your insurance provider for assistance.
Claim from the Road Accident Fund
The Road Accident Fund does not offer compensation for the damage of property. You can claim from the RAF for bodily injury in a car accident as a result of another motorist’s negligent driving. If someone dies, their families can claim for compensation. Negligent driving includes speeding, drinking and driving as well as being unobservant on the road.
Go for counselling
After road accidents, you may experience trauma or post-traumatic stress. If you feel that you have been adversely affected psychologically, it is important to go for counselling. Visiting a counsellor can help you to work through the trauma and to prevent long term negative psychological effects.
Repair your car
In a number of car accidents, your car might end up being a write-off and you will need to find a new vehicle. Damaged cars may need to have parts replaced and you can save money by finding parts online.
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