What to do in a Car Accident

Accidents happen; even to the safest drivers. Whilst you can take precautions and drive defensively and carefully, you can’t always account for the actions of other road users. You can, however, prepare for the unexpected by knowing in advance what to do when the worst happens.

Head on collisionAt The Accident

If you’re involved in a traffic accident and there is any injury to people or animals, or any damage to either personal property or street furniture then you must stop – whether or not it was your fault. Failure to do so is an offence under the Road Traffic Act. Make sure that your engine is switched off and your hazard lights are on.

Call 999 and ask for an ambulance if anybody has been injured; if the accident is blocking the road or if an involved driver has not stopped, ask for the police. Remember, safety and first aid should be the priority; you can deal with the legal aspects of the accident afterwards.

You must then remain close to your vehicle long enough for anybody involved directly or indirectly in the accident to ask for your details. If you are asked for your details by anybody who has a reasonable need for them – another involved party or insurance company-  then you should supply your name and address, the name and address of the vehicle’s owner if it’s not your own, and the registration number of the vehicle.

If you’re not asked for your details at the scene, then you must report the accident to the police as soon as possible – within 24 hours at most.

If anybody has suffered a personal injury, then you may also be asked to produce your insurance certificate. If you don’t have it with you, you’ll need to take it to a police station within seven days. If you are injured, make sure that you seek professional medical help as soon as possible, even if it is minor – this may be needed if you want to make a claim for compensation.

You should also be prepared to collect information yourself. Take names, addresses and contact numbers from any other involved drivers, passengers and witnesses. Make a note of the registration numbers of the vehicles involved, along with notes on their make and colour; note the time and date of the crash, the weather conditions and anything unusual about the road quality or lighting. If you can, make a list of the damage and injuries sustained, and either sketch or photograph the positions of the vehicles involved. This kind of information can help greatly if you need to make a claim.

After The Accident

If you’re not at fault and you want to make a claim, you’ll need to check if the other driver is insured. You can do this for a small fee through the Motor Insurance Database. If you have comprehensive insurance, you’ll be able to claim anyway, but you may lose your no claims bonus if the money can’t be recovered from the other party. If you have third party insurance, you can claim against the other driver. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. 

If the driver at fault didn’t stop at the scene of the accident and has not been identified, you can go to a specialist in hit and run claims to get compensation.


  • Stop. Turn off your engine and put hazard lights on.
  • Call 999 and ask for police/ambulance as necessary.
  • Collect names, addresses and contact numbers of involved parties and witnesses.
  • Take notes or photos of the accident, including registration numbers of all involved vehicles.
  • Provide your details and insurance certificate if requested.
  • Report the accident to the police within 24 hours.
  • Attend your GP or hospital if you’ve sustained any injury.
  • Contact your insurance company.