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By Spencers Solicitors

  Samantha Handley    
  December 20, 2016

Back to Basics: What to do if you are involved in a Road Traffic Accident

Sadly you can be involved in an accident at any time during your driving life whether you are 17, 70 or anywhere in between. One thing I hear very often from my clients at the start of a claim is “I didn't know what details to get; I've never had an accident before”.

So, here’s a guide to help drivers after an accident on the road:

1.   Stop - It sounds simple but even if you are involved in a minor collision you should stop to assess if there is any damage to your vehicle, another vehicle or any property.

Failing to stop at the scene of an accident is an offence under Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988

Police Car

2.   Call Emergency services - Assess whether assistance is needed and call 999 if necessary. If the accident causes any injury or damage it must be reported to a Police station within 24 hours. You should note down the log or reference number, the officer's name and PC number and the station details.

Failing to report an accident is also an offence under Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988

3.   Exchange details - After an accident involving another vehicle or property you must provide your details to any party involved.

Failing to provide driver information is an offence under Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988

If the accident involved another vehicle you should obtain the following details:

  •   Driver's name, address and telephone number

  •  The company name or registered keeper name, address and telephone number (if the driver is not the vehicle owner)

  •  Vehicle registration

  •  Insurance provider

  •  Policy number

Try not to admit fault or apologise until all the facts are established as this may affect your insurance and later decisions on liability.

4.   Note accident details - Life carries on after an accident and it’s easy to forget the little details. It's a good idea to keep a written account of what happened to be able to confirm and recall at a later date. These details should include the accident time, location and description. A sketch of the scene and vehicle positions might also help.

You might not realise that you are injured at the time of the accident if you are in shock but if an injury becomes apparent for you or a passenger, consider seeing your GP or dialling 111 and keep a records of any treatment and medication received.

5.   Photos - It is all too easy to jot down the other vehicles registration in a hurry but then not know whether that 'C' was meant to be a 'G' or if that quickly scrawled 'U' was actually an 'V'. If you take a picture of the registration with your phone you'll be sure to give your insurers the correct information which saves time when making a claim.

It’s also worth getting photos of the damage caused to all vehicles involved and of the accident location and road markings.

Car Accident Damage

6.   Foreign vehicles - If you are involved in an accident with a vehicle from a foreign country exchanging details may be difficult due to language barriers. You should try to obtain the Green Card details from the driver which will confirm the vehicle insurance details. If the vehicle is a heavy goods lorry the registrations for the cab and trailer will be different so make sure you note and take pictures of both including the country of origin. It would also be useful to take a photo of the signwriting on the vehicle as this may identify the owner.

7.   Witnesses - Even if the accident circumstances seem straight forward or if the other driver apologises to you after the accident, if anyone witnessed the accident ask them if they would provide a statement. If they are willing to do so ask them for their full name, address and telephone number.

8.   Report the accident - If you were driving a company vehicle when the accident occurred you should follow your company’s own procedures but also report the accident to your own insurers as soon as possible even if you do not intend to pursue a claim against the other driver. Failing to report an accident to your insurers could invalidate your policy.

The above steps outline what you should do immediately following an incident but I would suggest that there is one further and ongoing step you should bear in mind.

9.   Keep letters and documents safe - If you are pursuing a claim for damages following an accident you may receive letters from a number of people assisting you including (but not limited to) your insurers, your solicitors, medical agencies or the Police, or from people looking to claim losses from you.

Until the claim is resolved keep copies of all correspondence received as well as the documents that support the losses you have incurred. If you cannot provide proof of a loss then you may be unable to recover it.

Finally, please see the downloadable PDF below which you could print and keep in your vehicle in case you are ever unfortunate enough to be involved in a Road Traffic Accident.


If you have any comments on this guide or there are other details you think should be included within it please comment and don't forget to share the guide with your friends and family on Social Media! Should you require any advice following an accident, please contact Spencers on 08000 93 00 94.

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