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Keep your cool when you are involved in a car accident.

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Although you do your best to drive responsibly and defensively, it’s still smart to know what to do just in case you end up in a collision. Crashes can be very scary, but here are some tips if one happens to you: Take some deep breaths to stay calm.

After a crash, you may feel a wide range of emotions — shock, guilt, fear, nervousness, or anger — all of which are normal. The calmer you are, the better prepared you will be to handle the situation. This is the time to take stock of the accident and try to make a judgment about whether it was a serious one.

Check that you and your passengers are not injured and attempt to warn other motorists by switching on your vehicle’s hazard lights. Keep yourself and others safe.

If it is a minor car accident and you can drive the car without damaging it, then move it out of the road or out of the immediate flow of traffic.

If it is a serious accident do not attempt to move the car. Call the Emergency Services immediately should someone have been injured in the collision. Never unnecessarily move injured people as this can cause even further injury if the proper procedures aren’t followed. Rather wait for emergency personnel to arrive on the scene so that they can follow the proper procedures.

You should then report the accident to the SAPS, who will decide if they are going to send officers to the scene. Generally if no-one has been injured in the accident, the police will not come to the scene of the collision. In this circumstance it is advisable to go to your nearest Police Station as soon as possible to report the accident.

Make sure to exchange vital information with the other driver. Ask for their name, address, date of birth, insurance company information and obtain the ID Numbers of both the other driver and any other motorists and/or pedestrians who are witnesses. Also make a note of their car make and model and registration number.

Do not drive a damaged car if you are not absolutely sure that you will not be causing further damage. If the car needs to be towed, make sure the towing company is approved by your insurance company. If you don’t make sure of this you might need to pay for the towing.

Remove all valuables from the vehicle and make sure the towing company notes all vehicle accessories on the towing sheet (wheel spanner, spare wheel, radio, etc). It is advisable to draw a detailed diagram of the accident.

Be accurate and truthful, and include pictures of both cars after the accident. Include any other details you see as relevant, such as skid marks, traffic lights and other drivers. If you have a camera or smartphone then take photographs of the vehicles. The diagram and photos may be used as evidence at a later date.

Immediately after this, contact your insurance broker and report the claim. Most policies require you to submit the claim within a stipulated maximum time period after the accident has occurred, and claims may possibly not be honoured it if they were not submitted within this time frame.

Be aware that you may be asked to give detailed information about the accident to your insurance company. While you may be in shock, always me mindful to never admit liability before discussing it with your insurance company, as this could cause legal complications at a later stage.

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