Car accidents have become one of South Africa’s most common causes of road injury and road death – just because you did not yield when you were supposed to.

You have the right to contact the police when you have been in a car accident, especially if the other driver has experienced injury on impact. Although you may not be injured during a car accident, knowing your rights in the event is important when making a claim.

It is easy to get one’s emotions in the way of doing things properly. Therefore, it is your responsibility to first report the incident to the city’s police. When reporting a car accident, the South African Police Services (SAPS) will provide documentation of the scene, along with evidence.

When facing a car accident, you have the right to take legal action. However, if the other driver is injured, do the humanitarian thing and offer them some assistance.

If involved in a motor vehicle accident, you have the right to:

  • Contact the police. It is your responsibility to report the event immediately.
  • Take down the police officer’s details and accident report reference.
  • Capture the personal information of all the drivers involved in the accident – name, contact number, car license plate, license number, car model and color.
  • Capture the details of the incident’s context.
  • Take photographs of the accident scene and any damages.
  • Get the name of the other driver’s insurance or broker and the reference of the claim.

It is important to note that you cannot claim any motor vehicle damages from the Road Accident Fund (RAF).

If you are fixed on assuming that the other driver caused the reckless event, you will need proof to show that the driver was negligent of the foreseen damages. If you are not sure about who caused the accident, here are a few tips in trying to discover who was the reckless one:

  • Driving above the speed limit.
  • Inability to control the vehicle.
  • Drinking alcohol or using drugs.
  • Texting while driving.

If you car has insurance covered over it, you have the right to claim damages from your insurance. Your insurance will then be obliged to claim insurance from the person who caused the crash. If you do not have car insurance, you have the right to claim damage costs from the driver who caused damage to your vehicle. If the claim is less than R15,000.00, you can follow through with the process at the Small Claims Court. On the other hand, you will need to hire an attorney to support your claim in the Magistrate’s Court.

Learn your rights to when in a car accident. Claiming your costs to car damages can help you avoid long-term debt. Know what you are and are not liable for.

The above information, as retrieved from Legal Wise, is simply a guide and does not change any laws, rules and regulations, as stipulated in the South African National Road Traffic Act or National Road Traffic Regulations.

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