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Emergency Guide: What To Do When You Get In A Car Accident?

Don’t panic. By taking the right steps, you can prevent a bad situation from becoming worse.


When you are involved in any car accident, adrenaline pulses through your veins. Your mind is racing, but you might not be thinking clearly.

This guide helps you cover all the important bases when you do find yourself involved in a car accident.

Remember: by staying calm and taking the right actions, you can prevent a bad situation from becoming worse.

You’ve got this.

Safety First

The ensuing steps in this guide only applies if you’re not seriously injured. If you are seriously injured, call 995 if you’re able to, otherwise get out of any immediate danger and wait for assistance.

If you’re okay, turn off your engine and switch on your hazard warning lights. Remember, you’re on the road, and there are fast-moving cars travelling metres away in adjacent lanes.

If you foresee waiting at the spot for some time, you should place a reflective warning sign at least 20 metres away from your vehicle.

Call For An Ambulance And/Or Police If Necessary

Get out of the car once it is safe to see if the other party is alright. This is not meant to ascertain liability, but to check if anyone is injured and needs first aid.

If there are injuries, you should call for an ambulance (995) immediately. Even if it might seem minor, there could be internal trauma or concussions that cannot be detected by the untrained eye. If there is a serious collision/injury, do not attempt to move the people, as they may have unseen fractures.

When calling emergency services, be clear and succinct in conveying essential information and take instructions from the operators. “I am at _____ and there has been an accident involving ____. There are ____ people injured.”

The police (999) needs to be called if the accident involves a government vehicle/property, a foreign vehicle, a pedestrian/cyclist, a hit-and-run. By law, if the accident requires medical leave/hospitalisation of 3 days or more, it also needs to be reported to the police, but you can do that later.

Take Photos As Evidence

Once the necessary authorities are notified (or it is ascertained that they do not need to be called), take photos as documentary evidence of the accident.

Don’t just focus on the damage to both vehicles, but also capture wide-angle views of the area and accident site – including skid marks, debris, etc. It might be helpful to (discreetly) include the presence (or lack thereof) of a dashboard camera and number of passengers.

In your photos, ensure that vehicle license plate numbers are clear, and if the accident involves a multiple vehicle collision, take pictures of the vehicles with direct contact with your vehicle (front and rear).

Exchange Contact Information

After you’ve finished documenting the scene, approach the other driver to exchange particulars. The information should include:

1) Full Name
2) NRIC number
3) Contact number
4) Home address
5) Name of their insurer

It is important NOT to apologise, even if you feel at fault. Doing so would not help the situation, and might put you in a vulnerable position to agree to unreasonable settlements/irrational decisions due to your guilt. Stick to the facts.

If there are passengers, pedestrians or witnesses involved, you should also try to get the same information from them.

Move Away To A Safe Location

You should not discuss how to settle the accident with the other driver on the spot. Remember, you’re still on the expressway/public road.

Now that all relevant details have been exchanged and recorded, you can arrange to meet the other driver at a safe location, or if vehicles are damaged, to arrange for a tow-truck to come and retrieve the vehicle(s).

If you’re on the expressway, EMAS would already be on the way to shift your vehicle to the nearest exit. You will still need to make tow arrangements to the workshop. Your insurer will have a list of approved tow-services, so be sure to engage authorised tow trucks, otherwise it might affect your ability to make claims.

Inform Your Insurer

Regardless of whether want to eventually make claims on your insurance policy or not, you should notify your insurer by next working day after the accident at latest.

This is to ensure that you are able to make a claim if you need to, especially if the other party suddenly files a claim against you even after both of you agree to settle things privately. Not reporting an accident could also give your insurer grounds for revoking your No Claim Discount, or refuse you coverage when it comes time to renew.

Follow your insurer’s advice on steps to take next, which might include a visit to Independent Damages Assessment Centres (IDAC) for damage assessment.

Decide: Do You Want To Claim Insurance?

An advantage of moving away from the accident site is that you have time to calm down and think clearly.

If damages to both vehicles is extensive or if there are injuries, then you would want to claim on your insurance policy, since the resulting amount would likely be pretty catastrophic.

If damages are really minor and you decide to settle it privately, be sure to have the agreement in writing. While it might not be legally binding (unless you’re a lawyer or engage one), it offers a deterrent against flip-flopping on the part of the other driver.

If you’re worried or not comfortable, or both of you cannot agree on the amount, then just go through the insurer claims route. Your insurer will conduct their investigation of the accident.

See A Doctor

If you are unwell after the accident, see a doctor immediately. Be sure keep all your receipts and medical reports. These documents will be helpful if you need to make a personal injury claim, and for claiming injury benefits from your motor insurance policy.

Read Also: What Should You Do After Getting Into An Accident?

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