What should be done following a motor vehicle accident

Contributed by ChristianFoyle and current to 27 July 2018

Obligation of drivers following a motor vehicle accident

After a car accident has occurred, there is a legal obligation on the drivers involved to stop immediately and give assistance to any person who may be injured. In circumstances where the is an injury occasioning bodily harm or damage to a vehicle the drivers are also required to exchange their names and addresses, the registration numbers of the cars, and any other information necessary to identify the drivers or a responsible person for the vehicle to any person having reasonable grounds to request such particulars (see ss.53-57 Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA)).

Reporting a traffic crash

The driver of a vehicle must report a traffic crash when the incident occurred on a road or any place commonly used by the public, e.g. carparks; and
  1. the incident resulted in bodily harm to any person; or
  2. the total value of property damaged to all involved parties exceeds $3000 (see r5 Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Regulations 2008 (WA)).
  3. the owner or representative of any damaged property is not present.
The Road Traffic Act states that if a crash is reportable, then a Report of Road Traffic Crash form must be obtained and completed at a police station as soon as possible after the crash or to the Commissioner of Police in a manner approved by the Commissioner. The reality is that now crash reporting is done in one of two ways:
  1. If a Police Officer attends the scene of a motor vehicle accident, then an incident report is completed by that Police Officer (usually for more serious motor vehicle accidents); and
  2. In all other incidents by reporting the motor vehicle accident online using the internet site https://www.crashreport.com.au/
Crash related data may be exchanged with other government agencies such as Office of Road Safety, Main Roads Western Australia, Department of Transport, and Department of Health for the benefit of crash prevention strategies and road safety research.

By lodging your personal injury crash report via https://www.crashreport.com.au/ as a driver or owner of a motor vehicle, you are claiming insurance from the Insurance Commission of WA, as covered under the Motor Vehicle (Third Party Insurance) Act 1943, in respect of any liability for negligence that you may incur in respect of death of, or bodily injury to, any person directly caused by, or by the driving of, your motor vehicle.

Precautionary steps that should be observed following a motor vehicle accident

If you are involved in an accident the following steps should be observed:
  1. Names and addresses of any witnesses at the scene of the accident should be obtained, a quick way to do this is to take a photograph of their drivers licence with your phone and ask them whether the address is still correct. Phone numbers should also be requested for ease of access regarding a dispute;
  2. If possible, make hand-written notes of any conversation with the other person involved in the accident as a note made at the time of the accident will often be given precedence when evidence is given in court. Make a sketch plan, including distances, width of street, lane markings, etc (you are also required to do this when reporting the accident on https://www.crashreport.com.au/). If you have a camera (or a phone with a camera), take photographs of the scene, for example, of any skid marks on the road;
  3. Obtain full particulars of the driver of the other car and the registration of that car and ascertain if possible, whether that car carries property damage insurance and, if so, with which insurance company;
  4. Do not make any admissions about liability for the accident, as such an admission could invalidate your car's insurance policy;
  5. Even if you are undecided about whether to make a claim from your insurance company, the accident should be reported as soon as possible to them. Failure to do so may result in the insurance company attempting to deny compensation under their policy if a claim is made at a later date;
  6. Legal advice should be obtained before paying an infringement notice in relation to the accident because it may be advisable to defend a traffic case to assess the strengths and weaknesses of any later claim for damage or personal injury.

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