Ensure the best legal outcome after an accident

Johannesburg: Most people neglect to jot down the necessary details required after an accident, which could be disastrous when you are travelling outside of your hometown, in an unfamiliar place.

“It is important to know that there are a few things you can do straight after an accident to improve your chances of success in court. Making notes of the small details; the things that you would not normally give much thought to – can go a long way in ensuring a positive outcome for yourself,” says Tertius Bossert, Head of FNB’s Law on Call.

FNB’s Law on Call gives the following tips:

Make notes of everyone that was at the accident

Once the accident has happened you should aim to obtain as much information as possible about the other party involved.  This includes all their personal details: their name and surname, their address, contact details and ID number.

“Where possible don’t feel shy to use your phone to take a photograph of the other party’s ID document,” says Bossert. “If there were witnesses to the accident – jot down their details as well; this includes passengers in either your vehicle or the other vehicle, as they may be required to give a statement of what occurred.”

Vehicle details and the scene of the accident

Once you’ve written down all the details of the people involved – your next step should be to write down all the details of the other vehicle; this includes the make, model, colour and registration number of any of the vehicles involved in the accident. “You may also take down the condition of the vehicle involved in the accident with you – did the indicators, brake and head lights of the other vehicle work directly before the accident?” says Bossert.

The scene of the accident is also important to note, so you should make detailed notes of the scene of the accident, this includes the correct spelling of the street names, was the intersection controlled by a traffic light and if so, whether there were any flashing arrows giving certain lanes right of way. Furthermore, if you are in an area that looks unsafe, or perhaps you feel intimidated and uncomfortable spending time there, remember that you can use your phone to take a photo of the intersection or the area where the accident happened.

Weather and Visibility Conditions

Make a note of the weather conditions at the time of the accident, and because visibility differs at different times of the day you should also note whether the accident took place at dawn, daylight, dusk or night time. Following this you should make note of the surface of the road, was it dry, wet, or slippery, and was the road in good condition, or were there potholes and ridges and were the painted lines on the road clearly visible?

“Finally if the SAPS or Metro Police did not attend to the scene of the accident, you must report the accident within 24 hours at a Police Station nearest to the place where the accident occurred and if you’ve written as much detail as you can, soon after the accident – this should help you greatly. What is also important to remember is it might be several months before such a matter ends up in court, so you will be thankful that you wrote all those details down,” concludes Bossert.