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What are the legal obligations when you’re in a car accident?

SmartInsure

We take a look at what the legal obligations are when you’re involved in a fender bender, or even a more serious accident.

Regardless of its severity, a car accident is usually a messy business. Amidst the chaos and shock – or downright annoyance – you may be uncertain about what to do next.


1. Stop your vehicle

It’s illegal to drive away if you’re involved in a car accident. If you decide to flee the scene of an accident, you’ll be liable to a fine of up to R36,000 – and you may even face prison time.

Once your car comes to rest, put your hazards on to signal to other drivers that they should take caution when approaching.


2. Make sure everyone is okay

You may be concerned about the damage to your vehicle, but you can take stock of it later. Your first concern should always be the passengers of both vehicles, as well as any pedestrians who may have been involved in the accident.

It’s your responsibility to assist anyone who has been injured, or to make the necessary arrangements to ensure they receive the care they need. If you neglect this duty, you could also be criminally charged.


3. Make contact

Once you have ensured that everyone is stable, you can approach the other driver to discuss next steps. This involves exchanging insurance information, names, contact details, addresses, and driver’s licence numbers.

Besides this, you’re legally required to report the accident to the nearest police station within 24 hours. This is always applicable, even if both drivers decide to resolve their respective damages without making a claim.

 

4. Gather additional information

Nowadays everyone has a smartphone with a camera attached to it. This is the ideal device to help you document the scene. Take pictures of the cars, close-ups of the damage, and anything else that may be applicable.

Also take note of the exact time and place the accident took place and, while it’s still fresh in your memory, write down or take a voice note of how you experienced the events unfolding.


5. Call your insurer

At your earliest convenience you should reach out to your insurer and report the incident. Refer to your memory, as well as the notes and pictures you took down at the time. Be as honest as possible with your insurer. If you’re not, your claim may be rejected when they uncover the truth.

Having comprehensive vehicle cover will help you take care of the cost of the damages not only to your car, but to the third party’s vehicle as well.

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