What should I do if I’m involved in a road traffic collision?
Try to stay calm. Being involved in a road traffic collision is stressful. If you or others get agitated this will not be helpful to anyone.
The following are the key points.
- Drivers involved in road traffic collisions must stop. It is an offence to fail to stop.
- Engines should be turned off – there may be oil or fuel spillages and a risk of fire.
- Hazard lights should be turned on.
- Check whether anyone has been injured and act accordingly. It may be obvious that an ambulance should be called, in which case dial 999.
- Be aware that adrenaline can mask injuries. You, your passengers or other persons involved may have suffered injuries that are not immediately obvious. Internal bleeding can occur and you or others may seem fine at first and then deteriorate rapidly.
- If there are injuries and if the road is blocked, for example if damage is significant and a car needs to be towed away, then dial 999 and ask for the police to attend and an ambulance if there are injuries.
- Whilst you can show sympathy to others involved in the accident, do not admit fault. If the collision was your fault then your insurers will deal with it for you, let them decide.
- If the accident was not your fault, then there is no reason to make any comment about how it happened. Any legal case that may follow is not going to be resolved at the road side.
Should the Police be called?
- If there are injuries and an ambulance is needed
- If vehicles are causing an obstruction and cannot be moved.
- If you suspect a driver may not have insurance (e.g. he refuses to give you his details) or appears to be drunk or on drugs.
Other obligations after an accident
- You must give your details to any other party involved if the collision has caused damage or injury – it is an offense if you refuse to give your details.
- You must exchange insurance details with the other driver or drivers involved.
- You are strongly advised to get details of any witnesses and passengers in other vehicles.
- Report the incident to your insurers, even if it was not your fault. You are obliged to notify your insurers even if you are not claiming on your own insurance.
What details do I need to get at the scene of the accident?
- Get a note of the vehicle registration of the other vehicle or vehicles. Use your phone to take pictures.
- Note down the make, model and colour of the vehicles involved in the accident or take pictures of them. Take pictures if you can.
- Note the date and time.
- Make a note of the driving conditions, weather, the position of street lighting, and other details like road markings, the position of any potholes etc.
- Look around you, are there CCTV cameras that may have captured the collision? You may need to contact the council if they are public owned cameras or the private owner if the camera belongs to a private individual. CCTV evidence may be very helpful.
- Note the position of damage done to other vehicles and your vehicle and take pictures if you can.
- Take as many pictures as you can to show the positions of the vehicles and damage.
- If you do not have a phone to hand draw a sketch.
- You are allowed to take pictures in public, if you feel intimidated when you try to take pictures, call the police.
- Do not be tempted to drive off if you have caused damage and think that nobody saw you. There may be CCTV that has captured the incident. Leave a note of your details.
If you want to make a claim?
If you are intending to make a claim, then you will be asked to provide the sort of detail that is referred to above. In addition you will need to provide details of your losses and injuries.
Keep a note of any expenses.
Remember also, that if you are injured and wish to make an injury claim then medical evidence will be required. Do not waste time at the doctors and hospital if you were not injured – you cannot claim for injuries that you cannot prove you suffered. If you were injured then you should see your GP or go to the hospital.
If only very minor cosmetic damage is done to your car, it is likely that the insurance company will dispute that you can have been injured in the accident. Modern cars are good at absorbing the impact of minor collisions. Bumpers are designed to absorb the energy of the collision and protect you from injury. There may be some damage to your car, but that does not mean you can always claim injury if there was.