Unfortunately, some of us may find ourselves involved in a car accident at some point during our time in the UAE. Understanding what to do if such a thing should happen is a legal requirement and you should always be prepared to deal with it.
There are, of course, different levels of incidents. For this guide we are focusing on a collision between one or more cars in which there are no serious injuries to the people involved. In the event of serious injury, then you must dial 999 for an ambulance immediately. Note: The same steps listed below still apply for serious injuries as well.
The most important document to ascertain in the event of a collision is the Police Report. Without this you can find yourself in serious trouble, both legally and financially.
In Dubai and the northern Emirates you dial 999 for the police. In Abu Dhabi and its suburbs you dial 999 for Saeed – the traffic police.
Collision with another vehicle
Step 1: Tie the area down
- Regardless of whether you have hit someone or someone has hit you, all cars involved in an incident must stop in the safest place immediately (Do not obstruct traffic).
- Turn your hazard lights on and get out of the car (if or when it is safe to do so).
- Check that all other people involved, including those in your car and those in other cars, are ok.
- In the event of the other driver speeding away from the scene of the accident, try and take down their license plate number; you can hand this to the police when they arrive.
Step 2: Alert the authorities
- Dial 999 and explain to the operator that you have crashed and that you require the police. You will need to explain where you are. If an ambulance is required for any injured person (even if you suspect someone needs medical attention) then ask for one also.
- Make sure that you have your driving license, car registration card, and Emirates ID or passport ready.
- If you can, take some pictures of the damage to your car. Be careful not to take pictures of the people in the other car as this can cause problems later on (remember, you need permission to take photos of other people).
Step 3: Maintain calm and follow instructions
- It is very likely that at least one person involved – possibly even you – will be very irate with the situation. Do not, under any circumstances, lose your temper, appoint blame, or engage in an argument. If the other driver (or even another passenger) is yelling at you, remain calm and insist that the police will take due action when they arrive.
- When the police arrive, do not pester them, hurry them, or make hand gestures. Remain calm and wait until you are spoken to as the attending officer will give you a chance to speak. The police will decide who is at fault – most commonly, blame will be appointed with the driver behind. He will issue the Police Report in Arabic, as is standard practice.
- The Police will issue copies of the report in different colours: Pink form: issued to the driver at fault; Green form: issued to the innocent driver; White form: issued when neither party is accused, or if the accused is unknown (see Section 3);
- Follow any instruction that the attending police officer issues (this will vary depending on the situation).
Step 4: After the Police Report has been issued
- You must then call your insurance company – or car-hire company if you are renting a car – and let them know what has happened. Inform them that you have the Police Report and that they should arrange collection of the car from said location.
- The insurance company - or car-hire company - will advise you what to do with the police report (make a photocopy if you can, or in case you can't, take a picture of it with your phone).
- If the damage to your car is only cosmetic, such as a dented bumper or panel, then it should be ok to drive away from the scene (although it is a good idea to ask the police officer first). If your car has sustained substantial damage, or you have broken lights or glass, then you will not be permitted to drive it away. Your insurers will generally be obliged to send out a recovery truck.
Note: Check with your insurance company what their procedure is in the event of an accident. There have been reported cases of insurers not offering a recovery service. Make sure you know what is included in your policy. There are plenty of recovery trucks in the UAE, so make sure you have a couple of phone numbers to hand just in case.
If you have a collision with another car, regardless of intensity or apparent fault, then you are required by law to stop. Driving away from the scene of a collision is illegal, and failure to stop after an accident will result in a Dh500 fine, six black points, and the confiscation of your vehicle for seven days.
If you have caused serious injury and driven off, then your punishment will be decided by the courts, as well as receiving black points (which could be a ban) and the confiscation of your vehicle for a minimum of 60 days.
What to do if you hit an object other than a car
Not many people may realise that if you drive into something, other than another vehicle, which causes damage to your car, such as a concrete car park pillar or wall, then you must still dial 999 and ascertain a Police Report.
If, for example, you have reversed out of your parking spot and damaged your headlamp on the concrete pillar, then you will be unable to get the damage repaired without a Police Report. You must call them there and then, leaving the car where it is (or in the nearest safe place).
You may be subject to a call-out charge, and even asked to contribute to the repairs of what you have run into.
What to do if someone runs into your car while it was parked and you weren’t there
If you return to your car to find that someone has run into it while it was parked, then it is, sadly, up to you to deal with the aftermath.
Ideally, whoever ran into your car while it was parked will have called the police, but this does not always happen. The first thing to do is check for any CCTV cameras that may be nearby; most mall car parks have CCTV. If CCTV is present, locate security and ask them to replay the tape to try and identify the culprit. If there is no CCTV then there is little you can do.
In either case, you must call the police and ask them to attend so that they can issue the Police Report. You can explain your findings if CCTV footage exists, the police will then issue the due penalties to the offending culprit.
If there is no evidence then, unfortunately, you will likely have to foot the bill yourself.