Do you know what to do after a car accident?
More importantly, do you know your legal obligations and duties?
First, we need to define what a crash is.
Definition of Car Accident or Car Crash
- a collision between 2 or more vehicles, or
- any other accident or incident involving a vehicle in which a person is killed or injured, property is damaged, or an animal in someone’s charge is killed or injured.
What to do after a car accident (checklist)
Stop and assist if someone is injured
If a vehicle you are driving is involved in an impact occasioning the death or injury of another person, and you know, or ought to have known that your vehicle was involved in the impact, you must stop and give any assistance that may be necessary and that it is in your power to give.
A vehicle is ‘involved’ in death or injury if death or injury occurs because:
- the vehicle overturns or leaves a road while the person is being conveyed in or on that vehicle
- an impact occurs between any object and the vehicle while the person is being conveyed in or on that vehicle
- an impact occurs between the person and the vehicle,
- there is an impact of the vehicle with another vehicle or an object in, on or near which the person is at the time of the impact,
- there is an impact with anything on, or attached to the vehicle,
- there is an impact with anything that is in motion through falling from the vehicle,
- the person falls from the vehicle or is thrown or ejected from the vehicle while being conveyed in or on the vehicle
- there is an impact between any object (including the ground) and the person, as a consequence of the person (or any part of the person) being or protruding outside the vehicle, while the person is being conveyed in or on the vehicle
- the vehicle causes an impact between other vehicles or between another vehicle and any object or person or causes another vehicle to overturn or leave a road (and this is proven in court).
Failing to stop and assist carries a maximum penalty of $3,300 or imprisonment for 18 months or both. In the case of a second or subsequent offence, the maximum penalty jumps to $5,500 or imprisonment for two years, or both.
Under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), if you fail to stop and assist in circumstances where you know, or ought reasonably to know, that your vehicle has been involved in an impact occasioning the death of, or grievous bodily harm to, another person, the maximum penalty can be up to 10 years imprisonment.
Give your details
Your duty to give details if involved in a crash are noted in rule 287 of the Road Rules 2014 (NSW). You must stop at the scene of the crash, and if practicable, give your details to:
- any other driver involved in the crash,
- any person injured in the crash,
- the owner of any car damaged in the crash
- the owner of any property damaged in the crash
What details do I have to provide after a car accident?
- the driver’s name and address, and
- the name and address of the owner of the vehicle, and
- the vehicle’s registration number (if any), and
- any other information necessary to identify the vehicle.
If it is not practicable to give your details at the scene of the crash, you must do so as soon as possible. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, this usually means within 24 hours.
If the police attend a car accident
Police are required to attend a crash if:
- someone is killed or injured, or
- a party fails to stop and exchange particulars, or
- a driver is allegedly under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a drug, or
- police needed to direct traffic or deal with hazards, or
- a bus or truck needs to be towed, or
- there hazards present (eg. leaking fluids, damage to power poles/structures), or
- there any other issues requiring police attendance (e.g. aggressive/criminal behaviour).
You must give your name and address to police in the following circumstances:
- if police ask for your details,
- if anyone is killed or injured in the crash,
- if you do not give your details to any of the people mentioned above,
- if another driver involved in the crash does not give their details,
- if a vehicle involved in the crash is towed or carried away from the scene by another vehicle.
If you are giving information to the police, they may also ask you for an explanation of the circumstances of the crash.
What is the penalty for failing to give details after a car accident?
If you do not give your details to any of the people mentioned above, you could be fined $344 and incur 3 demerit points.