Over the past few years, road accidents have increasingly been on the rise. They’re a common phenomenon globally. This may be due to the fact that there are more vehicles on the roads today than there were some decades ago. This is no different in South Africa. In South Africa, there are so many factors that could cause an accident. Some of these include drunk driving, speeding/reckless driving, unmaintained roads, weather conditions, poor car maintenance, and even pedestrians/animals.
No one wants to be involved in a car accident no matter how big or small. Come to think of it, even a fender bender can cause you some serious traumatic experiences. Even so, there is no easy way to avoid an accident, given the fact that it can be as a result of someone else’s recklessness.
Easy as it is to let things fall between the cracks at the heat of the moment, here’s what to do if you get into a road accident in South Africa.
This is a legal requirement that applies not only in South Africa but in all parts of the world. It really doesn’t matter the extent of the damage, the law is clear on this; that unless your life or that of your passengers is at risk, the first thing to do after an accident is to stop. Car accident legal experts at Louthian Law Firm (https://louthianlaw.com/vehicle-accidents/car-accident-lawyer/) suggest that, if you find that you are in harm’s way, it’s always a good idea to find a safe place to take shelter. This is especially true if you get into a car crash in an isolated area. In South Africa, driving away from the scene of the accident could land you into some hefty fines or even imprisonment. This is because it’s a criminal offense. After stopping, it’s also important to prevent another accident from happening by switching on your hazards.
Call for Help
It really doesn’t matter on the nature of the accident. It’s prudent to call for help. It’s however important to assess the nature of the accident in order to know exactly what to tell the emergency responders. This means knowing your exact location and details of the injuries. This being the case, here are some South African emergency numbers you may want to familiarize with.
- Nationwide Emergency Response – 10111
- Cell phone emergency – 112
- Ambulance – 10177
Now, if you are able, as you wait for help, it’s humane to help those who are seriously injured. The very first thing to do is to secure the scene of the accident. This involves turning off the car ignition and checking if there are fuel leaks. Once you’ve confirmed that it’s safe, you can proceed and assess the nature of the injuries. Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Ask the person if they need your assistance. If they do, then provide them with the best aid. If the answer is no, it’s best to wait for professional help.
- If they had said no and they seem to be losing consciousness, by helping them, you’ll be protected by the Good Samaritan Law.
- Avoid moving the victim unless their life is threatened by a possible explosion or fire.
- If the victim has life-threatening injuries such as external hemorrhage, it’s a good idea to put pressure on the wounds to try and stop the bleeding.
Reporting the Accident To The Police
Under the South African traffic laws, if a driver is involved in an accident that injures or kills anyone, they are required by law to report the case to the police within 24 hrs. If they are unable to do so due to injuries, they should do so as soon as they reasonably can. When reporting, you’ll need to have the following information;
- The time of the accident
- Full names of the drivers and passengers-if any-involved. It’s always a good idea to include home addresses
- Take down the license disc numbers as well as the insurance details
- Witness account and information
Report the Matter to Your Insurer
All the above information may not be of any use to you if you are not insured. However, if your car is insured, you’ll need to report the matter to your insurer and at all costs, do not admit liability. Your insurance will need the same information as that issued to the police. It’s also a good idea to avoid signing any deal with the other driver’s insurer. In South Africa, you can make a claim from the road accident fund but only if;
- You were seriously injured in the accident and were not responsible for it.
- You are not the owner of the car but are responsible for the accident due to the owner’s negligence to maintain the vehicle.
- You are a spouse or a child of a person killed in the accident and was depending on their income.
Now that we have that established, let’s take a look at some of the things you should not do after an accident in South Africa.
- Never leave the scene of the accident unless told to leave by the police
- Never admit liability
- Never discuss issues to do with who was at fault with anyone
- Never agree on a settlement without your attorney
- Never throw away things that may be considered as evidence.
After an accident, the police may require that you submit a medical examination report. Now, if you don’t take any illegal drugs or alcohol, you are safe. But if you do, then make sure to avoid any narcotics before the examination as this could affect the results and ultimately, your claim.
It all boils down to our responsibilities as drivers in ensuring our safety and that of other road users. Accidents, no matter how big or small, can leave us with serious physical and mental scars that take time to heal, if at all they do. Before you decide on taking one for the road, remember that you could be the reason someone makes it to their destination or not. When an accident happens, it’s actually not the best time to point fingers. It’s important that when it happens, you maintain your cool and let the law take its course.