BY MARIJANA HAWKINS
Have you been involved in a motor vehicle accident? Are you unsure of what to do afterwards? Confused about motor vehicle insurance? Read below to find out what to do if you have a bingle.
- STOP your vehicle.
- ASSIST in any way you can.
- EXCHANGE YOUR DETAILS (car registration details, name and address) with the other driver or owner of any property that is damaged – If you are not the owner of the car, then give the name and address of the owner of the car.
- If someone is INJURED, or there is CAR DAMAGE, then you must also REPORT the accident to the NEAREST POLICE station – Police may only attend if someone is injured.
- Take PHOTOS of the accident, any damage to your and the other party’s car and the contact details of any witnesses.
Remember! It is a criminal offence to leave the scene of a vehicle accident without doing the above and the police can charge you.
IF YOU HAVE INSURANCE, WHAT DO YOU DO?
Let your insurer know about the accident as soon as possible, even if you don’t decide to make a claim.
IF YOU DON’T HAVE INSURANCE, WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?
The accident was your fault:
The other party is likely to try to recover the money for the damages to their car, whether through their insurer or a lawyer. If you don’t pay the debt, they can take you to Court.
The accident was not your fault:
Once you have a quote for the damages to your car, you can pursue the other party for the money. If they don’t agree to pay, you can try mediation. Failing that, you can sue them in Court (this could be expensive and if the other party has no money, it may be difficult to recover the money from them).
CONFUSED ABOUT THE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF INSURANCE COVER?
Third party person/Transport Accident Commission (TAC) fee: The compulsory insurance that is paid in part by your annual car registration fee. It covers you if a person is injured in a motor vehicle accident.
Third party insurance: Covers you for property damage caused to someone else’s car.
We strongly recommend you at least have this level of cover.
Comprehensive insurance: Covers you for property damage caused to someone else’s car AND your own car.
Hopefully this information has been helpful, however it is only intended as a guide only. It is not a substitute for legal advice, so make sure you get in touch with Barwon Community Legal Service for free legal assistance.
Marijana Hawkins is a community lawyer at Barwon Community Legal Service and predominantly assists Deakin students with their legal issues. In a past life, Marijana also worked as a youth criminal lawyer. During this time Marijana has seen the financial consequences clients face following a car accident when they don’t have insurance. She urges clients to get (at least) third party car insurance to avoid a landslide of legal issues that can follow!