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Car accidents by nature happen quickly and unexpectedly. Whether the incident was your fault or the other driver’s, there are certain steps you need to take in the immediate aftermath.

In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you should do in the event of a car accident, including determining whether or not it was your fault, making an insurance claim and arranging a replacement vehicle to get you back on the road as soon as possible.

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What to do immediately after an accident

It can be difficult to know what to do when you’ve just had a car accident, particularly if you’re in shock after the collision. Here are the steps you should take, no matter how severe the accident:

  1. Stop the car as soon as you can. Regardless of who is to blame, it’s illegal to drive away from a crash, even if it was just a minor bump.
  2. Switch off your car engine.
  3. Turn on your hazard lights.
  4. Check yourself and any passengers for injuries, then check any other parties involved in the accident.
  5. If anyone is injured, dial 999 or use an SOS phone to contact the emergency services. Call the police if the road is blocked or you believe that the collision was not accidental, or that drugs or alcohol are involved.
  6. If nobody is injured, get all passengers out of the vehicle and move them to a safe place - do not wait on a hard shoulder.
  7. Take photos of the vehicles and scene before moving them
  8. Assess if the vehicle is drivable and could be a danger to other road users
  9. Exchange details with everyone else involved in the collision. You need to take down their name, address, phone number and vehicle registration number. You should also swap insurance details with the other driver(s).
  10. If involved with a foreign lorry you must take down the VRM of the cab and not just the trailer, the VRM’s are different.
  11. Don’t apologise or admit fault. This is very important; any verbal statement could be used against you during the claims process and invalidate your compensation claim.
  12. Remain calm. It’s only natural to feel shaken up after an accident but try to stay level-headed and take stock of the situation, without losing your temper.

Determining blame after an accident

Usually, the at-fault driver’s insurer is responsible for covering the repair and replacement of your vehicle as well as compensation and costs of the non-liable or injured individuals, so determining who is to blame plays an important role in the claims process. But how do you ascertain which driver is at fault?

In the majority of cases, a driver who hits another car from behind is at fault; they should be able to stop safely if the traffic in front of them stops. However, if the driver in front breaks suddenly without any justification, the driver behind may be relieved from blame.

If it’s a right-turn car accident, the fault is typically placed with the driver turning right, though the blame will be determined by the damage done to the vehicle.

More often than not, car insurance companies will determine who is at fault by analysing all the relevant evidence from the scene of the incident. This includes:

  • Police reports
  • Witness statements
  • Photographs of the collision
  • CCTV or Dashcam footage
  • Medical documentation detailing injuries

When it comes to proving that you’re not liable for an accident, gathering evidence is crucial.

Making an insurance claim

You should make a claim as soon as possible. You can either do this through your insurance company or a third-party accident management company. Bear in mind that, though you should inform your insurance provider of the accident, if you do claim through them, you risk losing your no claims bonus if they can’t recover the costs from the other driver’s insurance. Working with an accident management company takes away the stress by pursuing the claim on your behalf.

When you make a claim, you’ll need to provide the following:

  • Your insurance details
  • A form of identification, such as your postcode or registration number
  • The other vehicles’ registration numbers
  • The driver’s name, address, phone number and insurance details

Arranging a replacement vehicle

It can be inconvenient and frustrating being off the road whilst your car is being repaired, so if you think you’ll be left without a vehicle for a while, it makes sense to arrange a replacement as soon as possible after an accident.

If the accident wasn’t your fault, you may be able to get a replacement vehicle at no extra cost to you through an accident management company, the costs of which are passed to the fault party’s insurer.

The duration of time you can hire a replacement car for will depend on the company, but as long as you’re not liable for the accident, you should be able to arrange one as soon as possible.

Failing that option you are reduced to either hiring a car out of your own pocket but before you do there may be another option.

You may also be entitled to a courtesy car under your insurance cover or service plan with a dealership or bodyshop; just be aware that not all dealerships maintain an extensive courtesy car fleet, so you may have to make do with a vehicle that’s less than ideal for your needs.

Had an accident that wasn’t your fault? Get back on the road now with AX

There’s a lot of hassle involved in the aftermath of a car accident, particularly when it comes to the claims process. Here at AX, we manage all aspects of your claim, from liaising with insurance providers to monitoring the progress of repairs to your vehicle. We can help you get back on the road in a replacement vehicle.

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