Accidents are a fact of life and even the most experienced drivers can find themselves involved in a car crash. All parties involved in a road accident have certain legal obligations. This guide will help you understand those responsibilities and the steps you can take to strengthen your case if you need to claim compensation.
Make the accident scene safe
There is a legal requirement to stop if injury or damage to a property or vehicle has occurred. You must make the scene safe by:
- Taking steps to prevent risk of further accidents
- Switching off your engine
- Switching on your hazard lights
- Getting your vehicle off the road if possible
Exchange accident details with the other driver
If you are involved in a traffic accident exchange details with the other driver(s) involved. You should get (and give) the following details:
- Full name
- Telephone number
- Insurance company details
- The owner’s details, if different from the driver
- Vehicle make, model, colour, and registration
- Names and addresses of any passengers or witnesses
Do I have to call the police?
If anyone is injured or there is a continuing risk to other road users, you must call the emergency services. Also call police if you were unable to exchange accident details due to an involved party leaving the scene. Remember that it is not only drivers of vehicles physically involved in the crash who must give their details. At the scene, every driver involved must exchange accident details, directly or indirectly. This would apply, for example, if a vehicle pulled out onto the road and in doing so caused a crash between your car and another. If any such driver fails to stop, take their registration details and inform the police.
Document the scene
It is important to gather all possible evidence. Injuries such as whiplash may not be immediately apparent, but if you need to make a compensation claim later on you will need to prove who was responsible for the accident.
Make notes detailing how the accident happened and any other contributing factors such as road condition, weather and any suspicions you have that another party was using a mobile phone or had been drinking.
Make sketches showing street names, direction of travel and where the vehicles came to rest.
Take photographs showing an overview of the scene including any damage to vehicles or property, skid marks and the final position of the vehicles.
Be careful what you say
Stay calm and don’t lose your temper. Never admit liability. An apology can also be construed as an admission of liability.
After the accident
Notify your insurance company as soon as possible. Your policy may be invalidated if you don’t.
If you are injured, contact Accident Advice Helpline who can help you claim compensation against the person who was at fault.
Try our compensation calculator to find out how much you could claim, or call 0800 689 0500 or 0333 500 0993 for a no-obligation initial discussion.
Date Published: 10th February 2013
Author: David Brown