What to do if you are involved in a road accident

Reading time: 5 mins

Carrie Tennick, August 13, 2020

A road accident can happen in an instant. One moment you may be driving home from work on the same road you always use; the next you might find that you’re being checked over by a paramedic after being hit by another driver.

Although you may think you’ll know what to do after a road accident, it’s different when you actually find yourself involved in one. Shock can mean you won’t act as you normally would.

We’ve put together this guide so you'll know what to do after a car accident if it ever happens to you.

Road accident risks

Your risk of being involved in a serious road accident has been dropping since the 1980s. In 1979, 6,352 people were killed on UK roads. In 2019 – according to the Department for Transport’s most recent figures – 1,748 people lost their lives. This is despite there being significantly more traffic on the roads.

It means that motorists in the UK are at a lower risk of dying behind the wheel than ever before. But although the chances of a fatal road accident have fallen, you are still at risk of being injured.

A total of 39.5 million vehicles were licensed in the UK at the end of March 2020. With so many vehicles on the roads, there is a real chance of yours coming into contact with another. Whether that ends up being a serious accident depends on a number of factors, including speed, weather, road conditions and light.

The most important thing you can do is to drive as carefully and defensively as possible to minimise the chances of an accident in the first place. If that isn’t possible, there are some things you must do right after a road accident.

Stop your vehicle

It’s illegal to drive away after a road accident – no matter how minor you think it was. After your accident, you’ll have to stop your car. Turn the engine off and your hazard lights on to alert other drivers to the accident.

You should then check yourself and your passengers over in case you’ve been hurt. Make a note of any injuries. But be aware that some injuries don’t make themselves known for a few hours or days, such as whiplash. This is why it’s always best to seek out medical attention after a road accident. If you or anyone else involved in the accident has suffered a serious injury, call an ambulance immediately. If there haven’t been any serious injuries, make an appointment with your GP or head to A&E when you can.

If you and others involved in the accident agree that there is no vehicle damage or injuries to anyone, you can leave it at that and be on your way.

Call the police

You’ll need to tell the police about your accident within 24 hours of having it. You don’t necessarily have to call them at the scene of the accident but do make sure you let them know. If you don’t, you could receive a fine, points on your licence or even a driving disqualification.

There are some occasions when you’ll need to call the police right away, though. If the other driver has left the scene without giving you their details, you should call the police. You should also call them right away if you think the other driver is uninsured or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as well as if you think they caused the road accident on purpose. If one of the involved vehicles is left blocking the road, the police should also be informed so they can manage the scene.

Record the details

After a road accident, you should make a note of a number of things as these could prove important later on. Get the other driver’s details, as well as those of any witnesses or anyone else involved in the accident. Make sure you jot down the number of people involved in the accident.

Record the make, model, colour and registration number of the involved vehicles. Note down the date, time and location of the accident, as well as the weather, lighting and road conditions. You can also write down what you think happened while the details are fresh in your mind.

You might want to take some photos of the accident, your injuries and the scene. For example, if you think a poorly maintained road is partly responsible for the collision, take photos of it. These could form part of your evidence if you later decide to make a road accident claim for compensation.

Consider legal action

A road accident can be a hugely upsetting and disruptive to your life. For example, you might have to take time off work to recover, meaning you lose out on earnings. To cover the pain and suffering you’ve experienced as a result of your accident, you can make a road accident claim if it wasn’t your fault. You can do so if you were a driver, passenger, riding a motorcycle or bicycle or even a pedestrian. You’ll claim against the responsible driver’s insurer, rather than them directly.

It’s also possible to make a claim if you were hit by an uninsured driver or someone who didn’t stop to exchange details. This can be done through the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, which exists to compensate the victims of uninsured or untraced drivers.

You’ll usually have three years to make a claim from the date of the accident. To find out how First4Lawyers can help you get the compensation you’re entitled to, just give us a call, request a call back or start your claim online. We’re here to help you through what could be an immensely distressing time.

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