It is best recommended that you try to stay calm after experiencing an road accident, usually most people in such situations will panic and therefore too shaken to think logically and the only thing that they usually worry about is the damages. In situations where the damages are minor then both the parties will usually prefer to settle the matter on site by a quick exchange of a small sum of money and try to leave the matter behind without further pursuing it.
However when it comes to serious damages most of are stumped on what we should do to handle the situation. Here are some tips to help you manage if you are ever involved in a road accident.
The first that you would need to do is immediately summon the police and if anyone is hurt make sure that you request for an ambulance. If you are made incapable due to the accident make sure that you notify your spouse, other family members or your attorney so that they are able to take down information. Here is a list of the vital information that you would need from the other party, so it would be best that you keep a pen and paper in the car with you at all times; the vehicle registration number, name of each of the party, identity card number, contact number that includes the house and office, make of the vehicle that includes the year and model, the address of each of the party, driver’s license number and the name of the insurance company.
It is important that you take down this information it will facilitate in the proceedings later on. Make sure that the information that that you write down is legible and never trust your memory in such circumstances. Maybe after a few weeks time you will start to struggle in recalling the details of that particular day and you will definitely regret it if that happens.
If you have a camera handy with you at that moment then you should also take photographs of not only the vehicles involved in the accident but also the site where it occurred as well. However this might be a problem for some as the court requires the negatives of the photograph and since many are already using digital cameras not many will carry a normal camera much less keep it in the car most of the time.
Another thing that you may need to be aware of when you are involved in an accident is that you should be careful with what you say. If it is unclear who had caused the accident initially then you should not accept fault, while you may feel sorry for what has transpired, you may not be legally liable for the accident. So it is best that you wait for the police to arrive and withhold your statement for the time being. So cooperate fully with the police investigation, this is because much of the information as well as the diagram of the scene of the accident will be reflected in the police report.
Do not take your injuries lightly; this is because you might not feel any immediate pain that is caused by the real physical injury. So in this case you should be aware of immediate symptoms such as numbness, shooting pain into the shoulders or the arms, headache and neck pain. If you are suffering from these symptoms then it may indicate that you have serious cervical injury and the sudden onset of pain may occur 24 hours later. It is best that you consult your physician as soon as possible so that you can receive medical care and get a medical report. You should not be too concerned with other problems related to the accident until your own physical health goes unnoticed.
What should I do at the police station?
If a police was not summoned to the scene of the accident you can still make a police report within 24 hours when the accident occurred at the nearest police station. When you are at the police station, explain to them how the accident had occurred and the report must be written in Bahasa Malaysia. However if you are unable to write in the language then make sure that you explain it to the officer that is on duty as they will help you write the report. Also make sure that you sign the report and get a certified copy of the police report that you have made.
Dealing with your insurance company
Always read your insurance policy carefully and if you have been involved in an accident make sure that you report it to your insurance company within the specified time. However it would be in your best interest to report the accident to them immediately, this is because you may be left without coverage if you delay the filing of the claims.
The claim that you make must not exceed the clause, this means that the insurance company will only pay the difference between that if your claim as well as the excess amount. So for example if you excess clause is RM1000 and your claim is RM800 then you would not be able to make a claim from your insurance company. If however you excess clause are RM1000 and your claim id RM1800 then you shall be paid the RM800 only.
This will also mean that you will lose your no-claim bonus when you have filed in any claim from your insurance company. And always make sure that your vehicle is towed to an authorized workshop as the damages to your vehicle will then be assessed by the adjuster from the insurance company. If the other driver clearly appears to be liable then you should contact his insurance carrier.
Ask them whether that particular policy is valid and if a claim number has already been assigned. Make sure to explain to the correspondence that you have been involved in a road accident and that you would like to file a claim in that particular person’s policy. You might be contacted by an adjuster regarding your situation and they may also offer to settle your claim for property and personal injury damage.
You should be aware that not all insurance companies will entertain your request and may completely ignore your request for assistance. If this happens then it is best that you obtain legal advice from an attorney.
What will a lawyer do on my behalf?
When you have obtained the services of the lawyer, you will then be asked to sign a warrant that appoints and authorizes the lawyer to represent you. Once that is done, the lawyer will than take down a full statement from you as well as examine the documents that you have compiled. After that the lawyer will consider the evidence and explain to you the types as well as the quantum of claims that you may be granted. The lawyer will also get a copy of the police report including the diagram of the scene of the accident (if applicable) and also the medical report from the hospital.
Once the lawyer has all the necessary documents that they need, they will then write to your insurance company regarding about the compensation. If for any reason the compensation provided by the insurance company is inadequate then your lawyer will file a civil law suit. If this happens then you should prepare all the necessary documents and get ready to go on trial. You should also take note that even at this stage all parties are still free to arrive at a settlement. After a settlement has been agreed upon, your insurance company will issue you a check and forward it to your lawyer. After that your lawyer will contact you to collect the check from their office.
What are the claims that I can make?
If you happened to be injured in an accident then you can claim for special damages that is specific expenses. These types of expenses will usually deal with specific monetary costs that have been incurred by the claimant as a result of the accident. For example; vehicle repair, hiring another vehicle, transport and medical expenses. While general damages would be categorized as compensation for pain and suffering due to the injuries that you have inflicted.
However if the matter cannot be resolved then the court will decide on the issues of the liability which is the person that is responsible for the accident and the quantum which is the amount that the injured party should receive. If the defendant is fully responsible for the accident then they are 100% liable.
However is some cases the claimant can also be partly responsible for the accident, if this is the case then the plaintiff is said to be contributory negligent. In such situations, the Court will assess the degree of the claimant’s responsibility in terms of percentage in causing of the accident and will then reduce the quantum accordingly. So for example if the Court finds that the claimant is 30% liable then the Court will then reduce the quantum by 30% and so on.