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What to do if you're in a car accident?

Added: 06 February 2018

It’s something we all hope will never happen, but a possibility you need to be prepared for nonetheless. Having an accident is already a stressful experience, and not knowing what you should do after an accident can make it even more frightening.

We’ve put together this quick guide to the actions you should take if you’re involved in an accident so you’ll know what to do should the worst happen.

Stay calm

No matter how big or small the accident is, you’re likely to be at least a little shaken. Car accidents can be frightening, especially if they happen very suddenly, but it’s important to try and stay as calm as possible.

Stop the car - it’s the law

Even if you think nobody was hurt and no damage was done to the vehicles involved, the Road Traffic Act states that drivers must stop their cars after any kind of accident. Failure to stop and share your details with any other drivers involved could land you a fine of up to £5,000.

Call the police

If anybody is hurt or unconscious, you’ll need to call an ambulance and the police right away. Do not wait - dial 999 immediately. You should also call the police if the accident is blocking the road for other drivers.

If nobody is hurt, you’ll still need to report the accident to the police. Even if the accident is just a minor collision, you must report the accident as soon as possible and always within 24 hours. You’ll need to report the accident in person at a police station but it’s possible that you’ll soon be able to report car accidents online.

Failure to report the accident to the police could lead to a fine, penalty points or disqualification.

Exchange information

Make sure you take down the details of any drivers and cars involved in the accident. Using your phone or a pen and paper, you should record:

·         The time and date of the accident

·         The names and contact details of other drivers involved

·         Other drivers’ insurance policy details, including policy number, insurer and expiry date

·         The names and contact details of any witnesses

·         Details of the cars involved, including the makes, models, colours and number plates

·         A description and the location of any damage caused

·         Any injuries to drivers, passengers or pedestrians

·         The driving conditions, including weather conditions, lighting and the road quality (especially if the road is muddy, wet or in need of repair)

You must always give you name and address when involved in an accident, even if nobody else is involved. If you hit a parked car, you should leave your name and address somewhere for the driver to find, such as on the windscreen.

It may also be helpful to take a note of the road conditions and take photos of the accident.

Let your insurer know

Even if you don’t intend to make a claim, you should report the accident to your car insurance provider. You should do this as soon as possible to be sure you’re reporting the accident within the time period specified in your contract.

You’ll need to give your insurance company as many details of the accident as possible, including other drivers’ details and as much information as you can about the accident itself.

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