Road accidents happen, even to the most careful drivers. Unfortunately, in Kenya, major and minor road accidents are continually on the rise. According to the NTSA, there was a 5.8% increase in road accident fatalities in Kenya by October 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.
Causes of road accidents in Kenya include poor roads, unroadworthy vehicles, flouting of traffic rules, over speeding, incompetent drivers, drunk driving, and weak enforcement of road rules, among other factors.
Perhaps you have wondered what steps you should take if, God forbid, you found yourself in a car accident. Whether it’s a serious accident or a minor fender bender, there are specific steps that you should take.
This article outlines 5 things you should do immediately after a car accident in Kenya.
1. Check yourself and your passengers for any injuries
Depending on the extent of the accident, the first thing you should do is to check yourself and any passengers for injuries. If you are seriously injured, try not to move as you wait for help. If you can ask bystanders for help or call a family member or/and the police. If it is a minor accident with damage only to the car, move away from the road to a safe place.
2. Remain at the scene of the accident
Whether it is a minor or major accident, do not attempt to drive away even if you are in the wrong. Leaving the scene of an accident is an offence under Kenyan traffic laws. Instead, call or wait for the police to arrive at the scene for processing. Switch off your car engine and put out lifesavers at a safe distance to warn other drivers of the accident.
Temperatures may run high at the scene of an accident, particularly if one party is clearly in the wrong. Avoid taking any rash action as this can make things worse. Although it may sound easier said than done, try to calm down as you wait for the police to arrive.
3. Exchange information
As you wait for the police or in their presence, exchange information with the other party, if possible. This includes names, contacts, car registration, make, model and color, driver’s license number, and insurance information. Establish if the other driver is the owner of the car or not. Collecting such information is helpful as your insurance company will rely on these details in ascertaining fault and processing your claim.
4. Document the accident
When the police arrive, they will carry out an initial investigation and write out a report. Write down the police officers’ names and badge numbers. If you can, take pictures of the accident scene and of the cars from different angles, showing the extent of the damage and license plates. You may also speak to witnesses for any extra information that you may have missed. Note down any relevant details about the accident as this may be helpful later on. This includes things like weather conditions, road marks, the other driver’s actions, etc. Ensure that you get a copy of the police accident report as soon as it’s ready.
5. Notify your insurance company
You should notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible, perhaps even while still at the scene. This way, they will advise you on what is needed and the next steps in filing your claim. Your insurance policy provides for legal representation, and where necessary your insurance company will engage a lawyer in case of legal liabilities.
6. Move the cars from the scene
After the police have taken down all the necessary information about an accident, they will ask you to move your cars from the scene, possibly to the nearest police station. If your vehicles are movable, and you are in a condition to, you will be asked to drive them. If the cars are undrivable, you or the police may request for a tow truck to tow them away. If your car is comprehensively insured, and depending on the specific benefits, your insurance company will reimburse the cost of towing up to an agreed limit. Otherwise, you will have to pay for the tow truck out of pocket.
What NOT to do after a car accident in Kenya!
- Do not run away/ drive off. If there is a threat to you, drive to a safe place or to the nearest police station.
- Report the accident to the police and get a police abstract, no matter how minor it is.
- Accidents can be emotional, especially if you are not in the wrong. Please do not punch or insult the other driver. Sorting things peacefully will be much faster!
- It may be a Kenyan thing, but, unless the damage is very minor, do not ‘visually’ access the damage and exchange money with the other driver without a professional consultation. Your vehicle may need more repairs than you get paid for on the spot, leaving you to go back to your pocket.
- Notify your insurance company about the accident, even if you don’t plan to make a claim. This is important because the other party can turn around and report the accident, blaming you for it, even after you have worked it out on the spot. You then find yourself time barred from making a claim with your insurer.
- Okay, goes without saying but, please do not bribe a cop to let you go (or to change the facts). Let us fix this nation one incidence at a time!
- Do NOT ignore symptoms like nausea, headache or pain even if you are not visibly hurt. Please consult a doctor to rule out internal injuries even if you feel fine.