There are more than 18 million cars registered in the nation of Australia, and many of us rely on our personal vehicles to get us to and from work, school, social obligations, and other essential places and events. More than two out of every three Australians drives to work rather than using public transit or another method. We’re on the road a lot — and that has its risks.
Unfortunately, car accidents are a fact of life in Australia. There are thousands of car accidents in Australia every year. Tragically, more than a thousand people die in Australia auto accidents annually. Not all accidents are fatal, but any kind of accident can be scary, disorienting, and — unfortunately — indicative of long-term trouble for your health and finances.
You can protect yourself and your rights better by knowing what to do after a car accident in Australia. Here’s what you need to know.
Safety comes first
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you need to be thinking about your health and safety. Take stock of your own condition first before moving on to help others in your vehicle and beyond. If you or anyone else is hurt, call 000 for help immediately.
You’ll need to use your common sense to secure the immediate scene of an accident. Generally, it’s a bad idea to move injured people. But if the situation is unsafe, you need to get them and everyone else away. Similarly, you’ll need to make judgment calls about where to keep yourself and your vehicle. If your vehicle can be safely driven, it may be wise to move it to the side of the road. The safest place for you may be inside of your vehicles—cars are designed to be as safe as possible in collisions, after all— but there may be a safer spot off of the road, depending on where you are. Turning hazard lights on is a smart move, and if you have other ways to alert oncoming drivers (such as reflectors and road flares), they may make sense to use. Use your best judgment.
Call the authorities
If you haven’t already called for an ambulance, you should contact the police in most cases. In Australia, the law requires you to notify the police if you are in an accident that involves any kind of injury or any kind of property damage that affects a third party (that is, any damage to a property not belonging to one of the drivers primarily involved in the accident). It’s better safe than sorry, of course. If you’re not sure whether you must call the police or not, call them just in case. Not all crashes merit full investigations, but the police can be helpful in directing traffic and in writing a report.
The police will help you document the scene, which will be important for insurance and legal purposes. Be sure to get your copy of any reports that come out of the incident. It wouldn’t hurt to do a bit of documenting yourself: take some photos with your phone and get insurance information from the other driver.
Knowing your rights
It would be nice if the consequences of an accident ended right there at the scene of the incident, but often times, that’s not the case. You may deal with medical issues. You’re sure to deal with expenses, some expected and, unfortunately, some that may be less so. You’ll have to deal with your insurance company, and you may find that you’re not being treated fairly.
If you feel that you’re bearing an unfair burden following an accident that was not your fault, you should know that you have legal options. Australian law provides legal options for victims of car accidents, explain personal injury law experts. A successful car accident injury claim could help you recover the funds you need and make you whole again after an accident destroys your finances and more.
You should only accept legal advice from an attorney, of course. Set up a consultation with a trusted local lawyer and bring any documentation you have related to your case. From there, your lawyer will help you move forward.