Being involved in a car accident can be a very upsetting and frightening experience.
If you’ve been in an accident, you should try and stay calm and follow our guidelines below on what to do, and what information you should try to collect.
You should be aware there are several legal requirements, but also, if injured, what information you should collect if you wish to make a claim for compensation.
What To Do After A Car Accident
You should do the following immediately following an accident on the road.
- Stop your car and turn off the engine. It's an offence if you don't.
- Check for any injuries to yourself or anyone else in your car.
- Check for injuries for anyone else who may have been involved in the accident.
- If your vehicle is damaged and is not safe, move to a safe place on the road, away from your car.
- Call an ambulance if someone requires medical help.
- Call the police if someone has been injured.
- Call the police if a vehicle is causing an obstruction in the road and needs to be moved.
- Exchange details with anyone else who was involved in the accident.
- Exchange details with anyone who may have witnessed the accident.
- Don't admit guilt or apologise for the accident even if you believe you may have been at fault as it may affect your legal position in the future if a claim is made either by you or against you.
- If able, collect evidence of the crash at the scene of the accident.
- Collect video, photos, dashcam footage, of the cars involved and the condition of the road.
- Contact your insurance company.
What Are My Legal Requirements If I’ve Been In A Car Accident?
Section 130 of The Road Traffic Act states that you are legally required to stop at the scene of an accident if the accident has caused injury to a person or animal, or caused damage to a vehicle or property.
The driver of the vehicle must stop and if required to do so by any person with reasonable grounds, provide their name, address, vehicle registration number and insurance details.
You will also need to provide the name and address of the owner of the vehicle if you are driving a vehicle that you do not own.
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Road Accidents Don’t Just Happen On Roads.
The Law defines a road traffic accident as any collision that involves a mechanically-propelled vehicle on a road or a public area. Some accidents occur in public places off of the main highway such as car parks. In such instances, our advice on what to do if you’ve been in an accident remains the same.
Do You Have To Report A Car Accident To The Police?
If, for any reason you do not exchange details at the scene of the accident, you should report the incident to the police within 24hrs. You can do this by going to your local police station.
Even if the accident may seem minor, you should either swap details with the other parties involved at the scene or report the accident to the police. If you don’t, it could be seen that you’ve failed to stop or failed to report an accident, both of which can affect your driving record, or even carry a prison sentence.
You are protecting yourself against any future claim by reporting the accident to the police.
You should always call the police if someone is injured or if the cars can no longer be driven safely. Additionally, the police should be called if the accident is blocking the road or is on a dangerous spot on the road and may put other road users at harm.
Do Not Admit Fault For The Accident
You should never admit fault at the scene of an accident. Fault is determined by experts once all the circumstances and evidence has been gathered.
Wrongly admitting fault at the scene can affect your ability to recover costs and possible compensation from the third party.
Even if you think you’re at fault, that may not be the case legally. You may not have been aware of all of the circumstances that caused the accident, especially if you are in shock at the scene.
We recommend you speak with our team to discuss your case. It may be that you were not at fault or partly at fault.
In circumstances where you are partly responsible, you may be able to claim under what is called a split liability agreement. For example, if you were 50% responsible for the accident, you would receive 50% less compensation.
How Long Do You Have To Report A Car Accident To Your Insurance Company?
It will depend on your insurance policy, but most insurance companies require you to tell them you were involved in an accident, even if you were not at fault, within 24hrs of the crash. Failure to do so may invalidate your policy.
You should tell your insurance company about the accident even if you do not wish to make a claim.
Senior Partner of Bott and Co, David is a fellow, and past president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
Championing consumer rights, he regularly speaks at legal conferences and has appeared on a number of television shows including The One Show and Watchdog, as well as BBC Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live. Find out more about David Bott.
What Information Should I Collect At The Scene Of A Car Accident?
We recommend that you collect as much information as possible at the scene of the accident.
Use the askMID Roadside service to check insurance details while roadside from your mobile phone.
This is a free service designed specifically for motorists, while still roadside, to use their mobile phone to check the insurance details of the other parties involved in a road traffic accident.
Additionally, you should make a note of the following, particularly if you later need to make a claim for compensation against the third party.
- Name, address, vehicle registration, insurance details of all involved in the accident.
- Note down the time and date of the accident.
- Call the police. They will make official documentation of the accident and assign a case reference number.
- Take photos to show the damage to all the vehicles involved.
- Take photos of the road conditions, especially if the road is damaged.
- Make a record of the weather and how it may have affected road conditions at the time of the accident.
- Make a note of anything that may affect the quality of the road conditions such as potholes or broken street lighting.
- Detail the directions of travel of all the vehicles involved.
- Make a note of the make, model and colour of all vehicles involved in the accident.
- Have a look at the condition of the other vehicles and check for bald tyres, broken headlights, or missing mirrors and take photos if necessary.
- If possible, make a quick sketch of the approximate angle of collision and where the cars made contact with each other.
- Have a look around the immediate vicinity for any pedestrian crossings, speed limit signs, traffic lights, or other road markings or signs.
- Find out if any witnesses are prepared to give you their name and contact information.
We recommend you collect as much information as possible even if you do not wish to make a claim. The evidence you have may protect you should the other party decide to make a claim against you for the accident.
What To Do If You Want To Make A Claim
We recommend that you speak to a specialist No Win No Fee solicitors such as Bott and Co who are entirely independent of any insurance company.
In some cases, insurance companies may try to settle your claim quickly and at a far reduced rate than you may be legally entitled.
Our independence ensures that you’ll not only receive completely independent advice about your claim, but you’ll receive the maximum amount of compensation you’re legally entitled.
What Happens If I’ve Been Involved In A Hit And Run?
You may be able to claim through the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) if you’ve been hit by a car that has failed to stop at the scene of the accident.
What Happens If The Other Party Is Not Insured?
The Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) is an independent body set up to compensate victims of uninsured or illegal drivers. You may able to claim through the MIB in these circumstances.
Examples of driving illegally include:
- Driving alone on a provisional license.
- Driving without a license, tax or insurance.
- Driving while disqualified.
- Driving a stolen vehicle.
- Driving an unsafe vehicle or one without a MOT certificate.
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Find Out If You Can Claim
Our experienced legal team are usually able to advise you if you can claim on your initial call, which will take no longer than 5 to 10 minutes.SPEAK TO OUR LEGAL TEAM