Motor Vehicle Accident: What to Do and When

As a motorist, there’s always a risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. Unfortunately, they can happen unexpectedly, no matter how safe you are on the roads.  The flow-on effects of an accident can last weeks, months or sadly, even longer, which is why it’s important to gather as much evidence as possible at the scene of the accident. However, when you’re involved in an accident, it can be quite a scary and traumatic experience. You might be in a state of shock, and it’s easy to forget to do all the things you’re supposed to do.  So, what should you do if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident?

Stay Calm

The most important thing to do is to try to stay calm. Take deep breaths. As tempting as it might be, screaming, yelling, or losing your composure won’t help.

Check Yourself and Passengers for Injuries and Call Emergency Services

The initial focus should always remain on getting medical assistance for anyone who needs it.  Check yourself and your passengers and call triple 0 immediately if anyone is injured.  Make sure you check on other drivers and passengers if you are able to do so.  The ambulance will let you know if you need to administer first aid until they arrive – being prepared with a first aid kit in your car is a great idea.

  • Do not remove anyone who is seriously injured from their vehicle, unless there is fire or risk of explosion
  • If a motorcyclist is involved, do not remove their helmet unless it is crucial to do so.

Move Your Vehicle to a Safe Area

Before attempting to drive your vehicle after the accident, check it carefully.  If any of the following apply, then it should be towed:

  • Airbag is deployed
  • Seatbelt pre-tensioners fired
  • Safety lights are on
  • Fluid leaking from the vehicle
  • Damage to wheels or suspension

If you are able to do so safely, move your vehicle to the side of the road so you are not blocking traffic.  If you can’t move your vehicle, turn your hazard lights on to warn other traffic of the hazard.  Then, get out of your vehicle and move yourself to a safe place.  Make sure engines in all vehicles are turned off.

Report the Accident

If there is property damage or injuries, the police should be called and a report made.  Property damage includes: damage to other vehicles, street signs, structures or anything else that is harmed as a result of the accident.  You must call the police if:

  • A person is injured or trapped
  • Police are needed to direct traffic or deal with a hazard
  • Anyone involved is failing to exchange details or
  • A driver is believed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If none of the above applies, then police do not need to attend.  For insurance purposes attend a police station when you are able to do so and report the accident.  Ask the reporting officer for a QP (Queensland Police) number.

Exchange Details

Motor vehicle accidents are stressful so once everyone involved is stabilised you should exchange details – remember to swap details with any other party involved in the accident.

Take note of their:

  • Name, address, phone number
  • Driver’s licence number
  • Registration Plate, car model, colour
  • Insurer details

Gather Evidence

Most of us have a smartphone on hand, so if you do, then take photos of the accident using your smartphone.  This will help your insurer and other parties understand what happened.  It is important to write down every detail that you can remember.  Document how the accident occurred and the extent of any harm caused by the accident.

Here are some important tips to remember:

Insurance Details

 Keep in mind when asking for insurance details, that the other driver may not be the registered owner of the vehicle or the one whose name is on the insurance policy.  It helps to ask if they are the registered owner of the vehicle.

 Do Not Admit Fault

 Even if you think you are responsible for the accident, don’t admit fault.  It is usually a term in your insurance policy not to admit responsibility.  It is up to your insurer and the police to determine who is at fault.   Your insurer or the police will assess the accident and decide if you are indeed at fault.

Medical Treatment

Even if it does not seem like the accident caused any injuries, you should see a medical practitioner.  Some injuries can take days, even weeks to become apparent and your health should be your first priority.  It is important to ask your doctor to document any injuries you have, even if it is just slight stiffness to your neck or back area.

Get Legal Advice

It pays to know your legal rights when dealing with other parties and insurers.

If you have been injured, you may be eligible to make a compensation claim against the CTP Insurer. Whilst representing yourself may seem more affordable, negotiations with third parties can be complicated and if you do not have relevant legal experience, you can end up with a less favourable outcome.  It is best to never accept an offer from an insurance company for injuries without seeking legal advice first.

There are strict time limits associated with claims, so you should contact Brisbane Lawyers as soon as possible for a professional assessment on your situation.  We can make recommendations that can provide financial protection for your future after the incident.


Written by: Suzi Bidwell