April 12, 2017

In a car crash? Here’s what to do

With the Easter weekend fast approaching the country’s roads will be full of holiday-makers, eager to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. This time of year inevitably leads to an increase in car accidents, the effects of which can be numerous and varied. So the question is, what does the law require a person to do once they have been involved in an accident?

The first requirement, perhaps a slightly obvious one, is to stop your car at the scene of the accident and to remain there until the details of all parties have been obtained. A driver who fails to stop after an accident when required to do so by law is liable to be prosecuted and, if convicted, fined up to R36 000, or sent to prison for up to nine years, or both. However, if you can prove that you did not stop because you were not aware of the accident, you may avoid prosecution. If not, the courts will presume that you were aware of the accident.

The next step is to ascertain whether any of the people involved in the accident are injured, and if so, to what extent. You should assist the injured as much as you can. This includes anything from calling emergency medical services or administering CPR. If any further injury is caused in a genuine and bone fide attempt to assist an injured person, the responsible party will not be held liable due to the Good Samaritan Principle, which covers people who are attempting to assist people who are hurt or injured.

Once it has been established that everyone is alright and/or has been attended to, the amount of damage incurred by each party needs to be determined. In order to settle any damages claim that may or may not exist, you must give your name and address to any person who has reasonable grounds for requiring them, the name and address of the vehicle’s owner if it is not your own and the vehicle’s registration number. This information must also be given to a police officer or authorised officer, at a police station or authorised office,  within 24 hours of the accident happening or to the officer at the scene. A valid driver’s license must be produced at this point.

Finally, despite the fact that you may need a stiff drink, no intoxicating substances may be taken after the accident, unless instructed to do so by a police officer or medical practitioner.

Author : James Bush

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