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Car accidents and the law

There are certain things you need to do at the scene of an accident to comply with the law. It is in your interests to follow these rules because you may get involved in legal claims and any deviations from the proper procedures may appear suspicious to either your insurer or the police.

Having a car accident can be very traumatic experience and it's important for any driver to be familiar with the law in this situation so that you take the appropriate course of action and avoid being misled by others at the scene.

Establishing who was responsible for the accident

Sometimes it's glaringly obvious who was responsible for an accident, and no matter what excuses the at-fault driver gives, the evidence speaks for itself. There are other situations when it is not so clear cut.

If for example a car reverses into you and there are no other witnesses, the other driver may claim that you drove into him! Which person do you think the insurance company will believe?

Generally most insurance companies advise their customers to not admit liability at the scene of an accident and so even though it was obviously the other persons fault, they still may not admit to it. That being said, it is probably a good idea not admit anything and just let the evidence determine the guilty party.

The key to establishing your case will hinge on the evidence available and the statements of independent witnesses. In addition to swapping names, addresses and insurance details (if they have them) you should also get the following information:-

  • Contact details of independent witnesses

  • Registration numbers of all vehicles involved

  • Photographs of the damage to vehicles, the position of vehicles relative to each other, skid marks etc.

  • Write notes about what happened

  • Draw diagrams indicating the movements of the vehicles

Do I have to stop my car after an accident?

If you are involved in a road accident you MUST stop. It is an offence not to stop at the scene of an accident in which you are involved whether or not the accident was your fault. Even if the accident just involves you damaging someone else's property or injuring an animal, it is your responsibility to try and find out the owner of the property or animal and inform them of the accident.

When you stop you MUST exchange details with all those involved before you can leave the scene. As a minimum you must supply your name, address and registration number of your vehicle to anyone who requires it, even if the vehicle does not belong to you. In addition to this you should also try to help any injured parties or warn other drivers of the hazard until the emergency services arrive to manage the incident.

Do I have to report it to the police?

If you have not left your details with a police officer at the scene, it is your responsibility to report the accident to the local police station in person following an accident. You should do this within 24 hours of the accident occurring.

If however your accident did not involve any injuries, damage to property (other than the vehicles involved) and there is no suspicion of any offence being committed, you do not have to get the police involved provided that you supplied your details to the other parties.

About your insurance certificate

If you cannot produce your insurance certificate at the scene of an accident you will be asked to present it at the local police station within the next 7 days following the accident. You should at least be able to give the name of your insurer following the accident to the other parties involved.

Accidents involving damage to property only

If you cause damage to property and there were no other vehicles involved, you should contact the owner of the property so that they can claim for any repairs. If you are unable to then you must report it to the police so that they can find the owner of the property and let them know.

Should I tell my insurance company?

You should always let your insurer know if you have an accident because if you do not, you invalidate your insurance policy.

If the accident was not your fault you may choose to use the services of a motor claims service instead of your insurer. In this instance the motor claims advisor may contact your insurer and ask them to note the accident for 'information purposes only'. This fulfils your obligations to your insurer and allows the motor claims company to make a claim for repairs or injury independently of your insurance provider.

Just give us a call on 0845 6768898 or start your claim enquiry using our online claim form.
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