No matter how good of a driver you think you are, you could still be involved in a car crash. A momentary lapse of concentration, poor driving conditions, or mechanical failure could see you careening into another vehicle in an instant. Or more likely still, you could be involved in a Not-At-Fault accident, through absolutely no error of your own.

Today we’re going to take a look at precisely what a Not-At-Fault accident is, what you should do if you’re in one, and what you should do afterwards.

What Is A Not-at-Fault Accident?

As the name implies, this is an accident where the fault lies with a third party, rather than yourself. If you are liable for the crash, then it’s known as an At-Fault Accident. Whether an accident is declared At-Fault or Not-At-Fault determines who should pay for the repairs, which could either come out of pocket or be paid by the At-Fault party’s insurance provider.

What Should You Do If You’re Involved in a Not-at-Fault Accident?             

What you should do at the time of an accident is the same regardless of who is at fault. The difference lies in what steps you take after the event.

Consider the following:

  1. Determine the wellbeing of all parties involved in the accident and call 000 if necessary.
    • It’s best to take a conservative approach. If an injured person insists that they’re okay, it might be best to seek medical attention anyway. Shock can make an injury feel less severe than it is, while internal injuries are difficult to diagnose.
    • In a minor collision, ensure all affected parties have moved safely out of the way of oncoming traffic. If a person is unable to move out of the hazard zone, don’t try to move them as they could be suffering a spinal or neck injury.
  2. Swap license information with the other parties. These days, the easiest way to do so is by taking a photo.
  3. Document the registration details of the other parties.
  4. Take note of the make, model, and year of the other vehicles.
  5. Exchange insurance details with the other parties if they’re insured.
  6. Photograph any damages and other evidence that could determine who is liable.
  7. Speak to any witnesses and document their contact details.

What Should You Do After A Not-at-Fault Accident?

Unbeknownst to many, a lot of insurance companies factor Not-At-Fault claims into their premiums. Therefore, you could end up paying more in the future if you go straight to your insurance provider to sort out the issue. Oftentimes, a better option is to take your vehicle directly to your usual repairer, by tow truck if necessary. The repairer will provide a quote, organise an assessment from the third party’s insurer, and then fix the damage.

Of course, not everyone has third party property insurance, in which case the above approach won’t work. In this situation, you could resolve the claim through your insurer.

Another common occurrence is that the third party or their insurer will deny liability for the accident, either at the time or when it comes to paying out. In this case, get in touch with your insurer as they will be more than happy to fight the case on your behalf. Taking extensive photographic evidence of the crash site and interviewing witnesses comes in handy during this phase.

Sometimes, the third party insurer won’t want to repair the vehicle at your chosen repairer. So be firm with the insurer, and demand that your car be repaired at your chosen repairer.

What If I’m Deemed At-Fault?

An investigation may conclude that you’re at fault for the accident, which means you’ll be liable to pay for the damages to your vehicle and that of the other party.

For this reason, it’s prudent to invest in comprehensive insurance to cover you in such situations. At the very least, a third party insurance policy covers costly repairs should you run into an expensive luxury vehicle.

Finding a Suitable Repairer

If one of the cars involved in the accident is a prestige vehicle such as an Audi, Range Rover, Lexus Volkswagen, Mercedes, Porsche, BMW, or Volvo, then it’s wise to take it to a specialist repairer.

Motorists in the Greater Melbourne Area should check out Brighton Panel Works, whose in-house expert team has been specialising in luxury car repairs since 1964. Brighton Panel Works also partners with CMT Assurance, Australia’s prestige accident replacement vehicle service, to provide a replacement vehicle for the duration of your repairs. If you submit a Not-At-Fault claim on your car insurance, you’ll be entitled to a similar make or style to your car, at no cost to you.