What to do if you’re in a minor car accident

black car rear-ending a gray car

Danny Baggs

Posted December 20, 2022

Car accidents can happen to anyone. Here’s what to do in the event of a minor car accident, so you can stay calm and get help.

Car accidents can be unexpected and scary. If you are involved in a car accident, it helps to know exactly what to do next. Read on to learn what to do after a car accident, when to contact your insurer, and what details you will need from the other drivers.

What to do after a minor car crash: a step-by-step guide 

Safely stop your vehicle

If you are involved in a car accident, take a deep breath, put your hazard lights on and calmly assess the situation.

Can you move your car safely off the road? If so, park your car out of the way of traffic, switch off your ignition, and keep your hazard lights on. When exiting the vehicle, keep your car between yourself and any moving traffic.

If your vehicle is too damaged to move and you are blocking the road, keep your hazard lights on and call the police for assistance.


emergency stopping lane

Emergency stopping bays are ideal for pulling your car over. Image: Getty


Exchange information with all parties

Once you’re safe, talk to the other parties involved in the car accident. If anyone is injured or trapped, first call 000 for emergency assistance.

You will need to collect the following details from the other driver/s involved in the accident in order to claim on your car insurance:

  • Name

  • Address

  • Phone number

  • Car registration number

  • Insurance details

It may also be useful to collect the following information: 

  • Driver’s licence number

  • Car make, model and colour

  • Vehicle owner’s details (if different from the driver)

By law, you must provide all your same details to anyone involved in the accident, and anyone whose property was damaged by the accident. Refusing to provide this information is a criminal offence in all Australian states, so call the police if a driver leaves the scene without divulging their details.

An argument over who is at fault can aggravate the situation. Remain calm and polite, and simply exchange the necessary details and take photographs of the damage to any vehicles involved before parting ways.


man and woman looking at car accident damage

Focus on exchanging information rather than arguing over who is at fault for a car accident. Image: Getty


Record details of the accident

There are a few more things you will need to note down to help you decide whether to make a claim on your car insurance. While everything is still fresh in your mind, write down:

  • the date, time and exact location of the accident

  • the speed you believe you were driving at

  • the weather conditions at the time of the accident

  • any factors that led to the accident – for example, a traffic light that was malfunctioning, an inappropriate distance left between cars, or a driver using their phone in the leadup to the accident

  • a diagram displaying how the accident occurred.

If there are any witnesses around, politely request their names, addresses and phone numbers. You can also note down their accounts of the accident. This will help your car insurer determine who was at fault if you decide to make a claim.

Make sure you also take plenty of photos of the crash site and any damage to cars and property before you leave.


man taking photo of car accident damage

Photographs are useful to record damage. Image: Getty


Contact the police if necessary

You will need to call the police under any of the following circumstances:

  • A driver involved in the accident refuses to stop or exchange details

  • A driver involved in the accident appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol

  • Anyone has become trapped or injured during the accident (after calling an ambulance for emergency assistance)

  • The accident has caused hazards such as a road blockage or leaking fluids

  • The accident has caused damage to property.


Victorian police vehicle

Contact the police if necessary. Image: Getty


Contact your car insurance provider to lodge a claim

First, you must decide whether you want to make a claim. This may depend on the type of car accident you were involved in and how it happened. If you’re insured with RACV Car Insurance, contact the claims team for advice on your options. 
It’s important to report the incident while the details are still fresh in your mind. If you choose to make a claim, the faster you make a claim, the faster it can be resolved. RACV Insurance enables you to make a car insurance claim online in about 10 minutes or call us on 13 19 03.

Organise towing if needed

Your car should not be driven away from the scene if it has sustained major damage. This could include brakes or lights not functioning, damaged bodywork that could cause injury, signs of engine damage, or leaking fluids.

If your car cannot be driven away from the scene, your insurer may help organise a towing service. Remember to remove any valuables or personal possessions from your car before it’s towed.


RACV Car Insurance helps protect your vehicle from loss or damage.
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The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit racv.com.au. As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Products issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia Pty Ltd ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.