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It's natural to be shaken up after a car or road accident. Below are some simple tips on things to remember at the scene and in the days following an accident. The main priority should always be safety and medical attention when needed, after that, the focus should be on gathering information.

At the Scene of the Accident

1: Get medical attention and police assistance if needed

If anyone needs medical attention that should always be the first priority. Call 000 if anyone needs medical attention and seek first aid attention if needed from those on the scene before emergency services such as an ambulance or fire brigade arrives.

When to call 000

Call 000 if;

● anyone is injured or trapped in a vehicle; and/or

  • if police assistance is needed to direct traffic or deal with hazards

Otherwise, call Policelink on 131 444

You should call Policelink if any of the following apply;

  • If anyone involved appears to be affected by drugs or alcohol;
  • If anyone involved refused to exchange details or left the scene;
  • If a driver with an impairment or disability requires police assistance

If the accident occured in Queensland and there was no injury or other circumstances shown above then you can report a traffic crash online to Policelink after the accident.

2: Reduce Risk of Secondary Accidents

Sometimes there can be a risk of secondary accidents and injuries following a car accident. There are some things you can to reduce this risk such as:

● Make sure hazards lights are turned on

● Getting any occupants such as children out of the car and off the road to safety as soon as possible. Locations such as hard shoulders of a motorway for example can be very dangerous due to high speed traffic.

● See if someone can help warn, slow down and direct oncoming traffic.

●  Ensure hand brakes are engaged to avoid the cars rolling.

● If your car has a reflective safety triangle in the boot then you could place this a safe distance behind the accident scene.

3: Gather evidence

What do do after a car accident image with icons of camera, vehicle registration plate, drivers licence details and maps.

Getting good evidence is going to be critical to insurance or compensation claims.

Take photos

Stories sometimes change after the accident and even the scene can change quickly if cars are moved. Try to take lots of photos using your phone to cover off lots of angles. Your phone typically will save the GPS location and time/date which can also be useful as evidence.

Always take photos of:

● Damage to your vehicle

● Damage to other vehicles involved

● Any other object or road feature that contributed to the accident

● Position of vehicles on the road

● Registration plates of all vehicles

● Street signs of where the accident occurred; and

● Drivers licences of all drivers involved

Write or Save Essential Information

Use a notes app on your phone or just pen and paper to jot down essential information including:

● Date

● Time

● Place (if you don’t know the exact location then write a description with help of any landmarks, e.g. across junction from McDonalds, Morayfield.

○  Latitude and longitude coordinates (such as this one for central Brisbane, -27.470125, 153.021072) provide an accurate reference to your exact location. It’s a good idea to find, save and store these coordinates at the accident scene. See below for instructions on how to do this within Google and Apple Maps.

● Brief description of what happened. For example ‘I was stopped at lights, rear ended by white Hyundai i30 with red P plates’.

● Note the weather such as dry, light rain, foggy or storm

● Other parties involved details including:

○  Full name (ask to see this on drivers licence)

○  Address

○  Phone number

○  Email

○  Drivers licence number

○  Vehicle make, model and colour

○  Registration number

○   Insurer

●     Witness details if available

○     Name

○     Phone number

○     Email

How to get coordinates in Google Maps app

  1. Open Google maps, tap and hold on your current location until you see the red pin
  2. Swipe up on the location information that is now displayed near the bottom of your screen near ‘Directions, Start’ etc. It’s worth screenshotting this page.
  3. You should now see some further information including long numbers within brackets. This is the latitude and longitude which authorities and insurers can use to know the accurate accident location.
  4. Tap on the latitude and longitude numbers and they will be copied to the clipboard
  5. Save them to a notes app on your phone such as Notes on iOS or Keep on Android.

How to get coordinates in Apple Maps app

  1. Open Apple Maps on your iOS device
  2. Tap on the blue dot showing your current location
  3. Screen should now show ‘My Location’ with an approx street address as well as latitude and longitude figures (scroll down to view if needed). Take a screenshot of this.
  4. You can copy the latitude and longitude figures individually and past them into another app such as Notes where you are putting other accident details.
  5. To save the location then press the ‘Mark my location’ button and then the ‘Save to’ button to save to a new or existing list within Maps.

4: Towing - Get Vehicle Removed from the Scene

Often tow trucks will appear like magic and are often the first on the scene. If you are on a very major road and/or if police are called then you may find you won’t need to arrange tow trucks, they will turn up.

●     If anyone is injured the tow trucks should not remove vehicles until police are on scene and advise them it is okay to do so.

●     If you didn’t call or request the tow truck then you do not have to accept them taking it. To avoid unreasonable fees or double handling, you should check with your insurer or roadside assist provider to check the company on scene is an authorised provider AND where they should be towing it.

However, if you do need to request a tow truck then you can:

●     Call your insurance company; if you have comprehensive insurance then this is a good choice as they may have a preferred provider and location for the vehicle to be sent to.

●     Call your roadside assist provider such as;

○     RACQ -  13 19 05

○     Allianz Global Assistance - 1800 010 536

○     Insurance or car provider - the phone number will often be on the inside of your windscreen.

●     Call a private tow company if you have no insurance or roadside assist

○     Search online for a local provider. Check reviews and ask for pricing when you call. Again, think about where you want the car towed to avoid the need for another tow to get it repaired.

○     If the accident was not your fault then be sure to keep all paperwork and invoices as you may be able to claim these costs back from the other party.

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Steps After the Scene of the Accident

A road accident is a big shock so if possible, give yourself some time to stop and have a rest and take stock of what happened before you rush into anything else. Once you are in a position to do so then there are a number of steps that may be needed in the days or weeks following the accident.

Report to Insurance Company

If you have comprehensive insurance then, regardless of who you think was at fault you should:

●     Call your insurer to lodge a new claim (or via app/web if available)

●     Provide evidence to them as requested

●     Take note of the claim number in case you need to provide this to other parties

Report Online to Police (If no injury and not already reported)

As mentioned, accidents with injuries or a number of other issues should be reported to the police straight away from the scene. However, if nobody was hurt then you can report a crash online to Policelink if:

●     the road accident happened within the State of Queensland

●     you can provide a working email address

●     you have a driver's licence or passport (you will need to provide licence or passport number and details)

If you have left the scene of an accident and realised you do have injuries that were not immediately obvious then ASAP you should:

●     Call Policelink to report the accident on 131 444, or;

●     Contact your local police station

Arrange Vehicle Repairs

If you have comprehensive insurance then:

●     Follow their advice on getting the car repaired or assessed. They may choose to write the car off if repairs are not possible or economical.

●     Depending on your policy you may be able to choose your own repairer or you may be required to have it repaired by their designated repairer.

Keep a Check on Your Physical Wellbeing

Some injuries from a car accident may not always be immediately obvious, especially when feeling the shock and adrenaline after the crash.

See how you feel in the coming days and weeks after the accident and be sure to visit the doctor or seek medical attention if you do feel on-set pain such as:

●  Whiplash symptoms such as neck and shoulder pains

●  Concussion

●  Lower back pain

Be Conscious of How You Feel

As well as physical effects, it's very common for car accidents, even relatively minor ones to have effects on your mental health.

● Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common after serious or potentially serious accidents

● Anxiety is very common when thinking about driving again or even being in a vehicle.

● Headaches, irritability and fatigue can also be knock on effects from whiplash injuries

These types of symptoms are very normal. It may be a good idea to;

● Visit your doctor and ask for a mental health plan. This can provide Medicare rebates towards 10 sessions with a mental health care professional such as a psychologist.

● Try calming exercises such as mindfulness. Apps such as Headspace or Calm are good for beginners.

Seek Legal Advice if Needed

If you or anyone in the vehicle was injured then you may be entitled to car accident compensation to help cover costs such as:

● Medical and rehab costs

● Loss of earnings (past and projected future loss)

● Loss of super

Get free expert advice now on a car or road accident injury compensation claim

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Strict time limits apply so it’s best to seek legal advice as soon as practical to talk through your options. Our car accident injury experts can provide free and no obligation initial advice to help you understand and protect your rights.

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