En-route to work on Wednesday morning, a rock was thrown from the bridge above, a common ploy used to cause damage, which will force the driver to stop, alight or pause to appraise the situation. Whilst the victim is hurt and possibly at death’s door, the criminal loots and even maims victims.
That afternoon that N2 northbound route had three accidents, first being a lady whose little car was side swiped by a brutish looking van. The road was littered with massive trucks and traversing my little car through the crowds, whilst sirens blared was nerve wracking. The thought of being in an accident, would feel much like the time when I was Robbed at Gunpoint, an episode that left me paralysed and shaking with fear. As a mother of two, I dread the thought of my children being in such a situation, hence this advice to them and all drivers to guide you through the aftermath of an accident.
Your life can flash before your eyes and may turn your life towards a disastrous point. Accidents do not only happen to other people. No one, no matter how safe a driver they are, are immune to a motor vehicle accident. It could be you who took your eyes off the road for just a second or a drunken driver who lost control of his vehicle.
It is important to know your legal rights just as it is to ensure that only suitably qualified motorists be allowed to take the wheel. This knowledge is important to safeguard your person, vehicle and prevent and legal consequences.
Reasons for Vehicular Accidents :
- “Car went off the road”, a common explanation by authorities. How? Distraction. Whilst it is important to be aware of our surroundings, it is imperative that you not get engrossed in the scenery or search through your playlist for your favourite song.
- “Rubbernecking”, a term that explains satisfying one’s curiosity over an accident scene. Move on safely.
- The use of mobiles, conversing or more commonly texting and driving. This needs to be emphasised often and perpetrators heavily fined.
- Drunken Driving.
What to do in the event of an accident?
- NEVER drive away from an accident scene, it is a criminal offence.
- Ensure that your hazards are switched on to caution other motorists.
- Assist injured people as far as possible, state your name, maintain their dignity but do not move or administer first aid if unqualified.
- Do not make a bad situation worse by getting into an argument with the other driver.
- Do not admit fault, that could be discussed if a lawyer has to get involved.
- Take photos of the accident scene, road signs, skid marks, take into account the weather conditions, without further endangering yourself.
- Get all the details of the other driver, ie, name, address, employer, vehicle registration number, insurance details and all contact details. Snap a photo of the licence discs.
- Source testimonies from witnesses. Every bit of evidence is crucial as memories fade and witnesses sometimes change tactics.
- Source witnesses, identity numbers, contact details, address, vehicle registration and description (make, model and colour) of their vehicle.
- Record the details (time, date, location) of the accident or injuries caused.
- Ensure that a police report is filed within 24 hours. Ask for a copy of the Accident Report and Case No. Note the Clerk and Investigating Officers’ rank and details.
- Do not listen to the other party if they ask to keep the law out of it. Damage could be much higher than your estimates. Sadly, they may even deny the accident or lay the blame at your door.
- File an accident with your insurers. If you have the other party’s insurance details, notify them of the accident.
- Create a folder for the accident. Ensure that all the parties involved, witness accounts, evidence of the accident scene, medical and police are all safely filed. It is vital and critical for personal and legal records, especially if a lawyer is to be appointed. It is your evidence. Without “evidence,” it becomes your word against the other driver or his or her insurance company. It’s critical that this information be retained in a safe place. Keep track of every phone call made, including the liaison officer, time, date and even reference numbers for the query.
- If necessary, a lawyer may need to be consulted.
Some Advice :
ICE : In Case of Emergency :
When I had my brush with disaster, I drew a mental blank trying to remember my husband’s telephone number. Fortunately, the attending female police officer was patient. It is not always like that. You’re alone, scared and injured. If you can use your phone, then dial 112/911 for Emergency Services or a family member or friend. Worst case scenario… alone and incapacitated? How will anyone know whom to call on your behalf? Ensure that you have ICE Numbers (parent, sibling, friend) programmed into your phone to enable personnel and first responders to contact In Case of an Emergency.
Drunk Driving :
If the other party has been driving under the influence of alcohol and the damages are somewhat severe, ensure than an lawyer who fights for the victims of drunk drivers is appointed. Most often, the victims are left maimed and injured for life and the instigator gets off with a paltry fine or a slight slap on the wrists.
The Insurance Company :
Do NOT immediately settle with the insurers without speaking to a lawyer. Claim representatives work for the insurance company and their priority is to protect the interests of their employer. A speedy settlement may seem convenient but it could limit or jeopardise future compensation and waive away your rights.
The Lawyer :
Source a lawyer who is experienced in vehicular accidents. Their focus is accidents and personal injury and they have a wealth of skill in exchanges with lawyers and insurers. The specialist lawyer is cognisant of tricks used to undermine settlement offers. Speak honestly and do not exaggerate injuries. It is a criminal act. Sometimes, accident case claims can be settled quickly or it may be prolonged over years. Initiate and sustain the legal relationship on a basis of trust and honesty.
Tow Truck Personnel :
Refuse to allow your vehicle to be towed away by any towing service other than your insurance providers authorised towing service. Should you not have tow cover with your insurance company, ask the tow truck driver for a quote in writing before your vehicle is towed away. Ensure that you have all the tow services contact details, vehicle registration number and of utmost importance, where your car is being taken.
Never NOT seek medical help :
It is not wise to resort over-the-counter medication, such as Aspirin or Ibuprofen to alleviate pain. Self-medicating can jeopardise your claim. Some injuries linger and appear seasonally, eg, joint pain that recurs in winter.
Worried about who will pay for your claim :
This depends on who is at fault. Should you be at fault, your insurers will provide compensation for the other party. If the other party is at fault, his insurers will compensate you for vehicular and personal injuries, all dependent on both parties policy coverage stipulations. Insurance is a costly affair but a necessary evil nonetheless, it is wise to always be covered financially in the event of mishaps and accidents.
Car accidents are common irrespective of geography. A night out with friends and excessive drinking could have serious consequences. Arrange for designated drivers in advance. Do not text and drive, auto correct is not a saviour at the best of times, distractions could prove costly and regret, in this case particularly, is an emotion best not visited.