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What to do after a Car Accident

An accident when driving your car, riding your motorbike, or simply on a bicycle, can happen to anyone. It can be a nerve-wracking experience, even if no one is injured.

Here is what you should do following a car accident.

At the scene of the accident

One of the most important things to bear in mind if you are involved in an accident is that you MUST stop. Even if you believe the accident was not your fault or that you did not break the law, failing to stop at the scene of an accident is a criminal offence, which could result in 5-10 points on your licence, as well as a fine of up to £5,000.

Depending on the circumstances, you could be hit with a much more serious punishment, such as a driving ban or even a prison sentence.

If another driver involved in the accident flees the scene, call the police immediately.

When you stop, you should check your vehicle and make specific note of any damage, as well as inspecting other vehicles or anything else that may have been damaged (such as a street lamp or signpost).  You should also check with everyone involved to see if anyone was injured.

It’s a good idea to take pictures of the scene, particularly to document any damage (or absence of damage) as well as the position of the vehicles as they came to a halt following the accident.

You should also make note of the scene itself – for instance, detail the weather conditions, how dark it was, and how much traffic there was at the time.

Make detailed notes of everything you can about the accident.

Exchanging information with other drivers

You should exchange the following information with any other drivers involved:

  • name and address
  • name and address of the registered keeper of the vehicle (if not the driver)
  • telephone number
  • vehicle registration
  • insurance details

You should also get details of the other cars involved (colour, registration, make and model), as well as contact details of any witnesses to the accident.

You should not admit any fault for the accident to anyone else at the scene, even if you believe it was your fault. If the police are called, you can ask if you can give a statement at a later date. This gives you a chance to get legal advice.

Reporting the accident to the police

Unless someone was injured in the accident, you do not need to report it to the police. However, if there was an injury, you must report it to them.

Technically, this must be done “as soon as reasonably practicable”. This means you should do it as soon as you can, but whatever you do, it must be reported within 24 hours. Failure to do this could result in a charge of failing to report an accident within 24 hours, which, like failing to stop, could result in 5-10 points and a fine of up to £5,000.

Leaving the scene of an accident you were unaware of

It is possible to be involved in an accident and leave the scene without realising you did anything wrong – for example, if you scraped another car and did some minor damage without realising.

In this case, the other driver may contact the police, and you could be charged with failing to stop after an accident. If this happens, you may receive a less severe punishment if you show that you were unaware that you had caused any damage.