What You Should Do After a Car Accident

There’s no way around it – being involved in a car accident is traumatic. Most people tend not to think about what will happen if they have an accident. But having an experienced accident claims lawyer available to guide you in the aftermath of an accident can be helpful; to explain the process, your rights and responsibilities and to help sort through any legal issues that may arise. Motorlegal can help get you the support and treatment you may need to get you back into your normal routine as quickly as possible. We will usually speak to you free of charge initially, so be sure to call if you have any questions or concerns.

Let’s take a brief look at the most common causes of car accidents:

What Are The Most Common Reasons For a Car Accident?

There’s really no such thing as a “no fault” accident. Every accident will involve some element of carelessness or inattentiveness. We are human, so we make mistakes! However, the question to be determined is who is responsible for the accident? Here are some of the most common scenarios that result in an accident on the road:

  • Driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs (which can include prescription medication)
  • Excessive speed
  • Driving too close for the conditions
  • Distraction caused by use of mobile phones (especially texting), changing the channel on the radio, unruly children or passengers etc.
  • Failing to observe traffic signs and signals (ignoring traffic lights, failing to give way)
  • Adverse weather (rain, snow, hail, wind)
  • Reckless lane changes and tailgating
  • Failing to give way at roundabouts
  • Driving whilst tired or spending too long at the wheel

There are numerous factors that may contribute to an accident and it may not be just one person who is at fault. Often crashes occur as a result of a series of actions by both parties. Because it may be difficult to establish who is to blame, and because no one wants an argument at the scene of an accident, it is important to know what information you should disclose to the other person and what you should not. For example, you should not accept responsibility for the accident even if you think you were at fault, as this may affect your insurance. Instead, simply exchange information, ensure everyone is safe and organise for any medical treatment that may be needed at the scene. Let a qualified car accident lawyer work out the legal position on your behalf.

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Common Types of Car Accidents

Most car accidents fall into one or other of the categories below and some obviously make it easier to prove fault than others.

Rear End Collision

This is easily the most common type of collision, where one driver hits the rear of another vehicle. They often occur on approach to a line of stationary traffic, where a driver simply fails to notice until too late that everyone else has slowed down or stopped.  It often happens on Freeways where speeds are much higher and reaction times much shorter and where an unexpected event (such as a breakdown or a loose load) can create a significant hazard in seconds and result in a pile-up. They can cause serious, sometimes life-threatening injuries, as the victim is often unaware that they are about to be hit and therefore has little or no chance to brace themselves or take any evasive action.

Side-Impact Collisions

These are commonly referred to as “T-bone” collisions because the vehicles strike each other front to side at right angles, forming a T shape. These can be particularly dangerous because side doors rarely provide as much protection from an impact as the front or back. They often occur at Give Way intersections (where the driver does not in fact give way to the driver with priority) and on roundabouts.

Sideswipe Collisions

These are (generally) less severe incidents where one car will “swipe” the side of another, commonly while passing them in traffic on freeways or highways. Life-threatening injuries are thankfully rare in this scenario but there can still be serious consequences if one or both cars lose control as a result of the impact. Some police forces have perfected similar manoeuvres to incapacitate speeding vehicles and the effects can be dramatic.

Vehicle Rollover

A rollover usually occurs when one vehicle hits another with enough force to throw it off balance and it then loses complete control. SUVs are particularly vulnerable to this type of accident due to their higher centre of gravity and greater mass. Because rollovers cause a huge amount of motion in the cabin during the collision, they can cause serious or life-threatening injuries.

Head-On Collisions

Head-on collisions are just that: they involve two vehicles which collide front to front. Depending upon the speeds involved, this can one of the most devastating accidents, with a lower survival rate for front-seat passengers and drivers than most other types of vehicle accidents. It is the combined speed of the vehicles which makes these accidents so serious and they often occur as a result of a reckless overtaking manoeuvre where both cars meet on the same side of the road.

Hit and Run Collision

Hit and run cases involve one vehicle hitting another vehicle or pedestrian, and the offending driver leaving the scene without stopping to render assistance or exchange details. They often involve drink or drugs or may involve a stolen vehicle. They can be difficult to investigate and pursue and legal advice would be strongly recommended in such cases.

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What Should You Do Immediately After an Accident?

It is important not to panic at the scene of a crash and to make sure you have the other driver’s name, address, contact details and registration. You should also take photos of any accident damage to both cars and ideally photos of the cars in their post-crash positions at the scene before they are moved. Photos of the road layout would help along with details of any witnesses.

Once you have got home safely do these three things.

1. Contact your insurance company and The Insurance Commission of Western Australia (ICWA).

You need to be as thorough and accurate as possible when describing the accident to your insurance company. Be honest and tell them the whole truth, regardless of who you feel was at fault. Insurance companies rely on being given accurate information. ICWA will need to know about your accident, so you will need to complete an online crash report form. The form will ask for details of the accident and whether you were injured. It helps them investigate the crash, so it is in your interests to make it as detailed as you can.

2. Contact a car crash lawyer.

Speaking to a lawyer can help put your mind at rest. If you call us at Motorlegal, we will give you that advice at no initial cost to you.

3. File your claim.

Don’t delay in filing any claim with either your commercial insurer or ICWA. Unreasonable delay can sometimes prejudice their investigations, so it is important to act quickly. If in doubt, contact your lawyer for guidance. It is important for us to be kept up to speed as well and we will have our own investigations to carry out. And remember: we’re here to help you.

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