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» Ask to see the other person’s driver’s licence and jot down the driver’s full name and identity number. People often lie about their details;

» Take down the full details of the vehicle – the colour, make and model, and registration number;

» Get details of the other party’s insurance – this allows recovery action to start immediately;

» Don’t admit liability or encourage the other person to do so. Many insurance policies have clauses stating that one is not allowed to admit to being wrong and if this is done, the claim can be thrown out;

» If possible go with the other party to the police station to ensure their statement is correct;

» Find a witness. A witness is the most important factor in proving your case against a negligent driver and the more independent the witness the better. Make sure you get the witness’s name and contact details in writing at the scene of the accident and as soon as possible thereafter get a written statement. Memories fade quickly, so the sooner one can get the statement the better;

» Most cellphones today take high resolution photographs so take a photograph and include damages to both motor vehicles, damages to any stationary objects that may have been involved in the accident such as trees and road barriers, traffic lights and if possible a shot some distance away from the accident scene is always good to give perspective;

» If one has an insurance policy covering the damages to one’s vehicle one should claim through one’s own insurance company and not rely on the other driver’s insurer;

» Have your broker or insurer’s contact details on hand in your car – store on your cellphone for easy access and make sure your cellphone battery is sufficiently charged for those emergency calls;

» Accidents are governed by the Road Traffic Act. The act specifies that in the case of an accident one must immediately stop the vehicle; examine the nature and extent of all injuries and assist to the best of your ability. One also needs to ascertain the nature and extent of vehicle damage and, if asked by a person who has reasonable grounds to do so, provide names and addresses, and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle as well as the registration or a similar identifying mark;

» By law both parties have to report any accident to the police. The Road Traffic Act states that if the drivers have not already furnished their names, addresses and registration numbers to a traffic officer at the scene of the accident they must do so as soon as is reasonably practical, and within 24 hours after the event, report the accident at a police station or recognised authority when the driver’s licences and IDs must be produced; and

» If your insurer has supplied you with a ‘Do not tow’ sticker, put it on your windscreen to avoid the car being towed by an unauthorised company to a repairer not approved by your insurer.

Most insurers only deal with repairers that can offer quality repair work.
- City Press

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