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The five commandments of making a car insurance claim when it’s not your fault
You’ve finished work and your mind is on the casserole you’ll be cooking for supper when another driver skips the red traffic light, slams on brakes and skids into the front of your vehicle.
Fortunately, neither you, nor anyone else, is injured, but your mind is racing as you scramble to take in the rising anger of your brand new, month old family sedan looking like a mangled wreck spewing oil and water onto the tarmac.
You’re tempted to erupt in rage at the dazed-looking driver of the other car that recklessly caused his chaos and might even have killed or injured you had he struck your car in the driver door region, instead of the front bonnet.
However, no matter how difficult it is, now is the time to collect your thoughts, act calmly and take the correct actions. Because even if you are innocent and any subsequent claims appear to be simple and straightforward, what you do at the scene of the actual accident is likely to have the biggest bearing on whether you receive payment in your favour.
So, you weren’t at fault and that was plain to see. But don’t expect the other driver to simply acknowledge their guilt, especially if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol in which case there is every chance they might attack and accuse you of being responsible.
In this instance, it’s vital that you keep calm secure in the knowledge that any driver who ran a red light or stop sign will almost certainly be deemed responsible. The same principle applies to being rear-ended and if a driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
However, in a court of law at a later stage, you may still have to prove your case and what you do at the actual scene of the accident could likely help avoid any minefields of your word against theirs when a car insurance claim is lodged with insurers.
So, here are the golden rules of what to do and how to behave in the heat of the moment post-accident.
Keep calm and say… It’s not my fault
- We’ve already said keeping calm is the first objective to thinking and acting clearly. The next objective is to look around for any potential witnesses. Make contact with them immediately and take their names and contact numbers for future reference. Take photos with your mobile phone of the accident scene showing both cars and any skid marks or identifiable landmarks. Take notes or make audio recordings of the scene, again using your smartphone of you do not have a Dictaphone. If you are injured, take images to support any future potential claim. The more evidence you have to support your claim, the more likely it is to succeed.
Make sure it’s safe to do so and exchange details
- Once you have ascertained that no one was injured, it’s important to establish who the driver of the other car is and exchanging details with this person. You are entitled to and should ask for their names, address, contact details and the name of their insurer. Ask for their car registration, but also take a photograph of their registration plate.
Call your insurer asap and tell them it wasn’t your fault
- Don’t delay in contacting your insurer or lodging an accident notification online if required. The longer you delay in contacting your insurer, the more risk you run of your claim being adversely affected.
Find out if you can get compensation
- If you are seeking injury compensation, it might be smart to contact a personal injury company, who will listen to your story and can offer advice or pair you up with a lawyer best suited to take on your case.
Please note: Because of the vast contrast in legislation throughout Australia, we have created separate pages with specific legal information for each jurisdiction.
If your motor vehicle accident took place in any of the states below, please follow the appropriate link so we can show you the most relevant content.
Never admit fault until you have sought advice
- And finally, never admit culpability even if you think you were at fault for an accident. You may be in a state of post-shock or unaware of circumstances in the accident that might clear you of any wrongdoing even if you think you were guilty.