Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Whether you are a seasoned driver or a newbie who has just passed your driving test, knowing what to do if you are involved in a car accident is essential. After all, every driver (no matter what careful they are) that I know who has been driving for some time has been involved in at least a minor accident in while on the road.
Factor in the confusion and potential adrenaline rush that might come to you after an accident, (touch wood it doesn't happen) it is important that you keep a cool head in the situation and do the following:
Step by Step Guide:
Step 1: Stay calm and assess casualties in the car accident
After a car accident, if you are okay, the first thing to do is to check for injuries on you and people around you to make sure that no one is in a life-threatening situation.
Call the appropriate hotlines below immediately if the situation is out of your hands and require assistance.
Emergency hotlines in Singapore
Non-Emergency Ambulance: 1777
EMAS (Expressway Monitoring and Advisory System) Vehicle Recovery Service: 1800 2255 582
Police Hotline: 1800 255 0000
Traffic Police: 6547 0000
Step 2: Take detailed photos and assess car damages
After ensuring everyone’s safety, you should start assessing car damages, especially if you are the victim. Take detailed photos of the scene and other vehicles involved.
Be sure to take a variety of photos with tight shots and wide shots in order to fully provide the context of the accident. You should also photograph the license plates of all vehicles involved. Take more photos as you never know what might be needed as evidence for your insurer.
It’s best to leave your vehicle in the same position after a car crash and not move it around. Moving it around too much might give the auto insurance company enough doubt to dispute your claim.
Next, get the particulars of the other driver. The information should include:
Name of their insurer
Step 3: Contact your insurer
Next, contact your insurer. If you are the victim, provide your insurer with all the information regarding the other driver so that they are able to act on your behalf to claim against the other insurer.
If you are responsible for the accident, you need to make a decision about whether it is worth losing your No Claims Discount (NCD) to make a claim. If your NCD is a sizeable amount, it might not be worth making a claim over a minor scratch or bump.
However, if it is something more serious like a huge indent that risks safety, you should probably go ahead and claim from your insurer to get a full repair. Whatever it is, prioritise safety over saving some money.
Take note that not reporting the accident could still jeopardise your NCD or refuse you coverage when it’s time to renew your policy.
Right after an accident, you may be in a state of frenzy, so it would be best not to discuss and settle the accident immediately on site. When emotions are heightened after an accident, it could evolve into an unnecessarily big tiff.
There and then, you should just focus on getting the necessary information, inform your insurer, and discuss the details in a separate meeting with the other driver or after getting advice about claiming car insurance.
Step 4: Bring your car to an authorised workshop to get it fixed, if needed
Some car insurance provides car-towing service (see which insurers provide assistance during car accidents). If it is not included in yours, do a quick search for a car towing service and get help. There are many options available and most, if not all, are 24 hours.
If the accident happened on the expressway, the Land Transport Authority will detect traffic accidents and will send their EMAS crew to help to tow your car away but only to the nearest designated carpark.
Do make sure that the workshop you are sending your car to is authorised. If you are unsure which workshops are authorised, ask your insurer for advice. The workshop you go to should be able to hand you the necessary paperwork to submit together with your claim.
Beware of scams regarding car workshops
There had been cases where people involved in a car accident suddenly saw some “well-meaning” people coming forward and handing them name cards for car repair workshops.
Be very careful as these people may be part of a car insurance scam – they stage the accident and earn money from the victims of the car accidents. One way to protect yourself from such scams is to install an in-car camera to record down all proof of events. Also, at the risk of sounding cynical, don’t trust anyone you don’t know just because they seem friendly. It’s easy to welcome help especially during such a vulnerable moment, but keep your guard up and judge wisely!
To avoid being a victim to such scams, it is important to have a preferred workshop already in mind. If you don’t know that yet, check with your insurer and find out which are the authorised workshops, or find one via word of mouth. Never allow a random stranger to arrange to tow your car away.
If you’re the one at fault in the car accident
If you are responsible for a car accident and if considerable damages to people and/or vehicles are sustained, you can claim against your own insurer at the expense of your NCD. However, do note that your claim must exceed the excess amount to be valid.
If the crash is serious and the police are involved, here’s what constitutes a penalty and the consequences.
The penalty for dangerous driving is dependent on the harm caused and the driver’s responsibility over the accident.
Harm can range from slight harm, which refers to slight physical injuries not amounting to hospitalisation, to very serious harm, which refers to loss of limb, sight, hearing or life.
The responsibility of the driver is assessed based on the driver’s condition while driving. For instance, was the driver drink driving or sleepy driving? Was he involved in a car chase? The driver’s circumstance of driving is also taken into account, whether the accident happened during rush hour or in a school zone.
Lastly, the driver’s motivation for dangerous driving that resulted in the car accident is considered. If it happened during an emergency, like if the driver was rushing someone to the hospital, it will be duly noted by the court.
Some examples of dangerous driving include speeding above the speed limit, weaving in and out of traffic, disobeying traffic signals, driving against the flow of traffic and competing with another driver leading to recklessness.
If drivers are convicted of dangerous driving, they face fines up to $5,000 and/or up to 12 months’ jail. Drivers can also be disqualified from driving for a certain period of time, or for life. Drivers convicted of causing death resulting from their dangerous driving can face jail term up to 5 years.
If you’re not at fault in the car accident
If you are the victim of a car accident, you have the option to lodge the claim under your insurance policy and have your insurer claim against the other driver’s insurer. If that is successful, your NCD at the next renewal will not be affected.
If things are severe, you may consider engaging a personal injury lawyer to handle the claim and see you through the process of getting the maximum compensation for your damages.
If you are unaware of how or where to find such a lawyer, you may ask your insurer for advice.
Once you have authorised a lawyer to represent you, it will be up to the lawyer to resolve the claim eventually through litigation or private settlements.