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When you get into your vehicle you never expect to be involved in an accident, but with over 117,000 road incidents reported annually on UK roads, you should know what you need to do in case you are involved in one.

When you’re involved in an accident you’ll often have a spike in adrenaline or enter a state of shock and so it’s important to try to remain calm, even if you do not feel it.

What to Do Immediately After an Accident

There are a few steps you need to take immediately after an accident to ensure your safety and that of anyone else involved.

If the car has not already stopped you need to stop in a safe location. You are legally required to stop the car after any collision and failure to do so could give you five to 10 points on your licence, which will remain on there for four years.

Once stopped if you are able to turn the ignition off and put your hazard lights on to alert other drivers to your presence.

You should then check yourself and any passengers for injuries, if you are relatively unharmed and able to leave the vehicle then you should do so. If anyone is injured then you should call an ambulance.

Some injuries, like concussion if someone hits their head, are not always visible so if you are at all concerned about injuries even if it is a little while after the accident then you should seek medical help.

If you are able to leave the vehicle then you should do so and move to a safe location to avoid any further injury to yourself or others. If you have a high vis jacket in the vehicle then you should put this on to ensure you are visible to oncoming traffic. 

Where possible, and if you have one in the vehicle, you might also want to put a warning triangle out to alert drivers of your vehicle being stopped in the road.

Notifying the Police of an Accident

You will always need to notify the police of any road traffic accident within 24 hours of it occurring.

Depending on the severity of the accident there are two phone numbers that you can contact the police on. These are 999 or 101.

You should call 999 if:

  • Anyone is injured
  • Any vehicle who was involved or their driver has left the scene
  • You suspect any of the drivers involved are under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Any drivers involved don’t have insurance
  • You suspect the crash was intentionally caused as part of a crash for cash scheme
  • The road is blocked at all

If you do not require an emergency response then you should contact the police on 101 to advise them of the accident.

If the police attend the scene then they will take your details as well as those of any other drivers and passengers involved and any witnesses.

They will also require you to complete a breathalyser test and possibly further tests depending on the accident and the causes of it.

The police will file a report on the accident, which you might need the details of for your insurance provider.

Exchanging Details

If there is anyone else involved in an accident then you will need to exchange details with them.

You will need to provide, and take from any other driver:

  • Full name
  • Contact details and address
  • Vehicle registration, make and model
  • Insurance details

You are legally required to provide your details when involved in an accident.

Even if your vehicle is the only one involved in the accident you might still need to exchange details with a third party if there is any property damage. For example, if you hit a fence then you will need to provide your details to its owner where possible.

If you do hit any property or are involved in an accident with a vehicle where the other driver is not present if you hit a parked car, then you should leave your details on a note for them to contact you when they return to the scene.

Keeping a Record

Where possible you should always take photographs of any accident you are involved in.

Most phones now have a camera in them and you can use this to take any photos you need. Some drivers also find it useful to have a disposable camera in their car as well in case of an accident.

You should take photos of the scene as a whole, including road markings where possible, damage to your vehicle, damage to any other vehicles involved, damage to any road furniture or property as well as any injuries to yourself or passengers.

You should also make a note of:

  • Other vehicles involved and their registration number, make and model, and colour
  • The time and date of the incident
  • The weather conditions
  • The road conditions
  • Visibility or any other factors that could have influenced your driving
  • A list of damage to any vehicles or property
  • A description of any injuries to those involved
  • The positions of the vehicle
  • A brief description of the incident

This will help you to describe the accident on any calls you need to make to notify your insurers or the police on what happened.

It is also becoming increasingly common for drivers to have a dashcam fitted in their vehicle in case of an accident as they help to document any accident for you. You can pick these up fairly cheaply from Halfords, Amazon or similar providers.

Notifying Your Insurer

You should notify your insurer as soon as you are able to.

If you are unable to drive the vehicle away from the scene and it needs recovering then depending on your policy they can arrange for the vehicle to be collected and taken to a local garage or salvage yard.

You will need to provide then with the details of the accident, any other parties involved, and any witness details you were able to gather at the scene.

They will then be able to process a claim. The length of time it takes for a claim to process will depend on the number of parties involved, the damage done to any vehicles and property as well as any injuries. Your insurance provider will be able to advise you on the time it will take for you.

You do not have to make a claim on your insurance policy. Some drivers choose to repair the vehicle themselves if there is only minor damage to protect their no claims discount.

Even if you do not want to make a claim you should still notify your insurance provider in case anyone else involved in the accident tries to make a claim against your policy.

Moving the Vehicle

If it is safe for you to do so and the car is in a drivable condition then you should move it so it is not blocking the road as soon as you are able to. This might be a case of pulling it onto a verge or a layby until you are able to get roadside assistance.

If you are unable to move the vehicle then you will need to ensure that your hazards are on and if you have a warning triangle you are able to use this is placed at an appropriate distance.

If the police attend the scene then they will usually use cones and tape to block off the scene and to divert and direct traffic if necessary.

If it is safe to do so, then you can remove your personal belongings from the car to keep these with you and avoid having to arrange to collect them at a later date if your vehicle needs a lot of work completing or is written off.

If you have breakdown cover then you should notify your provider and they will be able to move the vehicle for you. If this is provided by your insurance provider then they will be able to arrange this for you.

Please note that they may require you to remain at the scene or to return to meet their collection agent in order to provide them with the keys for your vehicle.

Things You Shouldn’t Do in an Accident

Don’t leave the scene. As mentioned above this is an offence and can result in hefty penalties against you including 10 points on your licence.

Don’t get angry or lose your temper with anyone else involved, even if you feel as if the accident is their fault.

Don’t admit responsibility for the accident, even if it was partially your fault as this might be used against you at a later date. Who is at fault will be decided by the insurance companies and if you admit responsibility at the scene then this could be factored into their decision. Because of this you should also avoid apologising. We know that this is often a lot harder to do, but an apology might also be seen as an admission of responsibility later in the process.

What to Do If You Have an Accident in a Lease Vehicle

If you are leasing a vehicle then there are a few additional steps that you’ll need to take.

You should still follow all of the advice mentioned above but you will then need to let your lease company know about the accident as well. If your lease is through Car Lease Special Offers then you can give us a call on 01722 322 888 and we will be able to confirm the correct contact details for your funder.

As you will have insured the lease vehicle you should still contact your insurance provider in order to make a claim.

If the vehicle is written off then your insurance provider will liaise with you and the funder to confirm the amount they will pay for the vehicle. Your lease funder will also confirm the amount they are expecting to receive for the remaining lease payments.

If you’re concerned about the difference between these two amounts then you might want to have a look at GAP insurance. We’ve got a helpful guide here to help explain this for you.

Further Information

Please click here for our downloadable accident checklist which you can print off and keep in the car should you ever need it.

You can also contact your insurance provider to discuss any requirements they have should you be involved in an accident.  

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