What to do immediately after a car accident

Unfortunately, with the sheer volume of traffic on the roads nowadays, there are invariably a number of car accidents.  It is important you know what to do if you are caught up in a crash, in order to protect yourself and deal with the situation properly.

Immediately after a car accident

1. Stop

However minor you think a car accident is, you must stop. In fact, failing to do so is an offence under the Road Traffic Act.

Contact the police if someone gets hurt in the car accident

You should make sure your car’s engine is switched off and then turn your hazard lights on to alert other road users to your presence.

2. Call 999 or 101

Take a look around and if anyone has been injured in the car accident you should call the police (and an ambulance, if necessary) as soon as possible.

The police should also be called if the car accident is blocking the road.

Be aware that, if you have a contract or lease car, they may stipulate in your contract that the police have to be called in the event of any accidents, however minor/major.

Giving details after a car accident

When you're involved in a car accident you’re obliged to give your name and address to anyone else involved.

Avoid saying sorry or accepting blame for the accident until you know precisely what happened as it could count against you later on with your insurance company.

You should stop and give your details if you crash into something on or near the road even if there aren't any other people involved. If you hit a parked car, for example, you should leave your details on the windscreen.

Car accidents should be reported to the police within 24 hours. Failure to do so could result in a fine, penalty points or even disqualification.

Collecting details after a car accident

After a car accident you should collect as much information as possible.

If possible, you should collect the following information from any drivers, passengers and witnesses:

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Contact numbers

Ask the other drivers involved for their car insurance details and try to establish whether they are the registered keeper of their vehicle. If they aren’t, find out who is and make a note of their name and address.

Call 999 straight away if someone leaves the scene of the car accident without giving their details.

Other information to collect from the car accident

Here are some other important details you should try to collect at the scene of the car accident:

  • The registration numbers of all vehicles involved, plus a note of each vehicle’s colour, make and model.
  • The time and date of the crash.
  • A sketch showing the positions of vehicles involved.
  • A description of the weather conditions, plus anything unusual you notice about the road quality or lighting.
  • The names of any witnesses or police officers at the scene.
  • A list of damage to vehicles and a description of any injuries sustained by pedestrians, drivers and passengers.

You may find it useful to take photos of the car accident for use as evidence.

Some drivers carry disposable cameras for this purpose, but most modern mobile phones will take good enough shots to help you remember important details.

Contact your insurer

Make sure you tell your insurer about the car accident as soon as you can. Failure to do so within the time period set out in your policy may invalidate your cover - leaving you with a big bill to pay.

Make sure you check the wording of your car insurance policy carefully as these time periods can be anything from 2 days to 2 weeks after the accident.

Always inform your car insurance company about an accident - even if you don't want to make a claim.

Give all of the details you have collected from the points above to your insurance company.

If you wish to continue with your insurance claim, your insurance company will advise you on their processes, and they will contact the insurance company of the other people involved.

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