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What to do when you hit someone’s car

When you accidentally hit someone’s car, it’s not a good feeling! You might be in a rush to get somewhere, and now you’re frustrated by the delays this will cause. Being involved in a crash can also leave you shaken up and unsure of what to do next.

However, it’s very important that you follow the correct steps when you hit someone’s car. In this article we share some of your legal duties as the driver that hit the car, as well as any other steps to take.

Your legal duties as the driver in South Africa

In South Africa, there are specific laws about what you must do whenever you are involved in a car accident. The law is very clear on what you, as the driver, must do when you’ve damaged someone’s car or property. For example, if you don’t stop as soon as the accident occurs, it’s a criminal offence.

We break down some of the steps you need to take when you’ve been in an accident to ensure you’re on the right side of the law.

1. Always stop – immediately

If you don’t stop immediately – whether you’ve hit a parked car or a driver on the road, or potentially caused property damage, you are breaking the law and liable to be prosecuted as a “hit and run”. This is no small mistake and could cost you a hefty fine or even years behind bars.

If you’re in a parking lot and you hit a stationary vehicle, but the other driver is nowhere to be found, wait until they return. You should never leave the scene. Instead, go inside the nearby stores or buildings to find the driver. Try to stay calm and get their contact and insurance information from them.

However, if they are nowhere to be seen, you should leave a note on their windshield with your name, contact information, insurance policy number, and a quick explanation of what happened.

2. Stay calm and assess the situation

After you’ve pulled over, go over to check the extent of the damage to the vehicles involved, as well as whether any of the passengers or driver are injured.

It’s very important, however, that you do not try to offer help if you don’t know first aid, as you could make things worse.

3. Call relevant emergency services

As soon as possible, call the necessary emergency services like an ambulance (dial 10177) and police (dial 10111).

Try your best to remain calm and speak clearly, giving them all the details and contact information they need, including your name, location, number, what happened, and the number of injured people, if there are any.

4. Don’t leave the scene of an accident until the police arrives

In South Africa, it’s the law that you must call the police if anyone is seriously injured or if any drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Stay on the scene until a police officer says you can leave.

The driver involved in a car accident must also report the incident in person as soon as possible, and within 24 hours if they caused any injuries or damage to property. If you will be making an insurance claim, you should also ensure you do this within 24 hours. You cannot do this over the telephone, and someone else cannot do it on your behalf. If you’ve suffered a personal injury, you should try to do it as soon as reasonably practical.

5. If you have insurance, call your insurance company

In times like these, it’s your car insurance provider you’ll most heavily rely on. A good insurance provider will be easy and quick to reach from your phone. They should talk you through the next steps and collect the necessary information for your insurance claim.

Please note that each car insurance service provider has its own insurance rates and that each situation warrants a specific set of terms and conditions. Always make sure that you understand these before signing up for car insurance.

The type of car insurance you opt for will also determine whether they will pay out for damage to your car and the other driver or only to the latter. Always make sure that you understand exactly what your insurance will cover.

Your car insurance provider will also assist you with towing services if needed, which is sometimes included in your policy.

6. Avoid admitting liability

Don’t engage in conversation with the other party. It’s never a good idea to say things like, “I was on my phone and did not see you”. Don’t agree to anything or make any admissions that could be held against you.

7. Find the right insurance to back you in times of need

Nobody likes having to think about being in a car accident. However, it’s, unfortunately, a reality on our roads.

Ensure that you have the right people to assist you when you do end up in the situation. The shocking reality is that many South Africans still drive without car insurance. Instead, enjoy peace of mind and sign up for car insurance today!

Get an obligation-free quote today

With Prime South Africa, we offer car insurance solutions to suit your pocket and with benefits that are unique to our company. Fill in a quick online form to buy car insurance online, or send a request for us to call you right back, and let’s get you sorted and driving confidently in no time!


Our article above is only meant to give general information to help you understand some of the important steps you need to take when you hit someone’s car. However, it does not include all steps, so please always ensure you understand what the emergency services, car insurance provider, etc., expect from you and follow their instructions.

Always remember that owning a car and buying car insurance is an intricate process and should be done with much thought. Always ensure that you only buy car insurance from a certified financial services provider.

Contact us today if you’d like more information about getting affordable, comprehensive car insurance with fixed premiums* and a reduce-to-zero excess*. *T&Cs apply.

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