Evidence about fault
There are a number of documents that you can use to show who was at fault in a car accident.
Your notes about the accident
It is a good idea to write down what happened in the accident while it is still fresh in your mind. You can keep a note or write a diary entry.
You should keep a record of the following information about the accident:
- date and time that the accident happened
- location (street name, suburb/town/locality, nearest cross street or landmark)
- colour, make and model of each vehicle involved in the accident, including the number plates
- name of the driver of each vehicle and the owner of each vehicle (if it is not the driver)
- description of how the accident happened
- what the street lighting was like (if the accident happened at night)
- the traffic conditions (lots of traffic, light traffic)
- the speed limit on that road
- the speed you were travelling
- what the weather was like (raining, just finished raining, sunny or dark)
- any conversations you had with the other driver
- details of any witness
- any conversations you had with the witnesses
- anything you think may have caused the crash
- a description of the damage to your car, as well as the other cars involved in the accident
- the cost to repair your car, if known
- whether the police attended
- if it was reported to the police - the name, rank and station of the police officer and date and time reported
- any other relevant details.
You can use this information:
- to make or respond to a claim
- when trying to resolve the claim with the other driver or insurer
- to prepare a statement as evidence if you end up going to Court.
If there were witnesses to the accident, you should get their contact details. If you were not able to get these at the scene of the accident, but the police were there, you may be able to get this information from the police.
For more information, see Identifying the other party.
After the accident you can contact any witnesses who saw or heard something that supports your claim and ask them to prepare and sign a statement about the accident. You should contact witnesses as soon as possible after the accident so they don't forget any details. If the matter goes to Court, the hearing date could be months or even years after the accident happened. The statements should not include opinions or beliefs or arguments about the law. They should include facts about what the person saw, heard, did or said.
You can't force a witness to give you a statement. If the case goes to Court, you may be able to serve the witness with a subpoena which orders them to give evidence.
Instructions: Instructions for preparing witness statements - car accidents
Sample: Witness statement - car accidents
You could take photos of the place where the accident happened, the surroundings (for example, the intersection, street signs, traffic lights) and the position of your car and the other driver's car. These photos could be used to explain the circumstances of the accident, and who was at fault.
You could take photos with your mobile phone or camera.
If you had a dash cam installed in your car that recorded the accident or you were cycling and you were wearing a body cam, the footage could be used to explain the circumstances of the accident, and who was at fault.
Sketch of the scene
You should make a sketch of how the accident happened. A sketch can be helpful when making a claim or if you end up going to Court. You should include as much information about the accident as possible, such as:
- position of the cars involved in the accident
- position of any other car, for example, parked cars
- location of any witnesses
- trees, kerbs, or crossings
- name of the street and cross streets, if any
- lanes and lane direction
- width of the street
- speed limit
- traffic lights
- street signs, for example, stop signs
- any other relevant details.
You could neatly label the sketch or you could use a key to show what your picture refers to.
Police Incident Report
If the police came to the accident, or the accident was reported to the police, you can get a Police Incident Report.
The police report might include statements about fault, whether anyone was charged with an offence, a summary of the accident, and sometimes it can include drawings of the scene.
For more information about how to get the police report, see Identifying the other party.