How to guide - Claiming damage for a motor vehicle accident

What to do?

How to do it?

  1. Ensure safety first:
  • Do not leave the scene of the accident.
  • Check for injuries: if a person has been injured call an ambulance. See Motor vehicle accident – Injury.
  • Do not move: do not move the motor vehicle, unless/until it is necessary. Hazard lights should be switched on to warn other drivers.
  • Call the police: in significant circumstances, such as major damage to the motor vehicles, injuries to the drivers/passengers, or death.
  • Do not throw away any potential evidence: evidence may include defective products, important documents, or torn or blood-stained clothing.
  • Do not admit fault: do not discuss whose fault the accident might be with anyone, but the police, own insurance or own attorney.
  • Co-operate: work with all emergency personnel and police who respond to the accident.
  1. Exchange information:
  • Obtain the following details of all the motor vehicles, their drivers and passengers involved in the accident:
    • names and surnames;
    • drivers licences;
    • identity numbers/passport numbers;
    • residential/work addresses;
    • contact details: cell, work number and e-mail;
    • description of the motor vehicle:  registration number, type, colour and model; and
    • employer’s details: if driving the employer’s motor vehicle; details of driver and employer.
  1. Obtain information:
  • Details of accident: write down the date, time and address/location of the accident, and the weather and road conditions when the accident occurred.
  • Details of witnesses: write down names, addresses, and contact details. If possible, obtain an affidavit from each witness about the accident.
  • Take photographs or videos of the following:
    • the scene of the accident, from all angles;
    • the surrounding area;
    • the injuries; and
    • any damage to the motor vehicle or other property.
  • Draw a sketch plan: draw a sketch of the scene of the accident and make sure that it contains a fixed point so that it can easily be traced.
  • Make a statement: the statement must contain the details of the accident and how the accident happened; to remind a person of the events surrounding the accident at a later stage.
  • Motor vehicle registration certificate: to confirm ownership of the motor vehicle.
  1. File a police report:
  • Report the accident at the nearest police station:
    • within 24 hours, if a person is killed or injured; or
    • on the first working day after the accident, if no person was killed or injured.
  • Details of police officer: write down the date and name of the police officer spoken to (at the scene of the accident or the police station).
  • Accident report: write down the accident report’s reference number and get a copy of the accident report, if possible.
  1. Phone insurance, if any:
  • Notify insurance or broker as soon as possible.
  • Obtain details of person notified: write down the date and name of the person spoken to and the reference number of the claim.
  1. Determine damages:
  • Determine the amount of damages to the motor vehicle: two or more repair/replacement quotes.
  • Determine the amount of other damages: reasonable tow, storage and renting costs.
  • If a person is insured s/he will have to claim damages from his/her insurance.
  • If a person is not insured, s/he will have to claim damages from the person who caused the damages to his/her motor vehicle.


How can LegalWise assist you?

Should you require an explanation of your rights on this topic, please contact your nearest Branch.


The information contained on this website is aimed at providing members of the public with guidance on the law in South Africa. This information has not been provided to meet the individual requirements of a specific person and LegalWise insists that legal advice be obtained to address a person’s unique circumstances. It is important to remember that the law is constantly changing and although LegalWise strives to keep the information up to date and of a high quality, it cannot be guaranteed that the information will be updated and/or be without errors or omissions. As a result, LegalWise, its employees, independent contractors, associates or third parties will under no circumstances accept liability or be held liable, for any innocent or negligent actions or omissions by LegalWise, which may result in any harm or liability flowing from the use of or the inability to use the information provided.

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