If You Hit an Unoccupied Car Should You Remain at the Scene?
Q.One of my employees had an accident with an unoccupied car on a retail park.
As no one was around he left his contact details and those of his inusurer on the cars windscreen. Two weeks later we have received a form from the police (form 109 (R4/09)) stating they intend to prosecute him for leaving the scene of an accident.
I was wondering if there are any precedents or specific ruling here as I cant find any. Does this mean that if you hit someones un-occupied car you are expected to hang around, waiting for them to turn up?
One of the most crucial aspects of driving is responsibility. Whether it's using defensive driving to stay safe, being aware and under control at all times, or following the correct procedure at the scene of an accident, responsibility is key. Many people are vaguely aware of what they should do at the scene of an accident when it involves someone else, but when you've accidently hit a stationary vehicle which has nobody in it at the time, the rules can become blurred for most.
Overall, the rule for any collision is that you must stop and exchange details. This covers accidents with moving vehicles, pedestrians and even stationary vehicles. With regards to unoccupied stationary vehicles however, it's obvious that you can't wait around for a lengthy period of time for the individual who owns the car to return.
In this case, the correct and legal thing to do is then go to the police and report the issue. In doing this, you have exchanged details with the police who will then pass them onto the car owner. You may also want to leave your details at the scene. Remember to give your name, a contact number and your insurance details if you have them.
Your employee appears to have done the right thing by leaving his details at the accident scene, especially since he was at that time unable to exchange details, however, he should have then gone on to report the matter to the police. Assuming that he did not, this could explain why he received the Police Form 109 (R4/09) stating that they were intending to prosecute him for leaving the scene of an accident.
The main issue that you now need to address is whether the other party involved (the car owner) is willing to accept that he found the note with your employees details on it. In most cases, the other party are happy to accept this and generally the police will then cease any further action. There is the chance your employee may receive a warning, but this may also be dropped.
If the police do intend to continue with their prosecution, your employee must obtain the services of a specialist lawyer who is used to dealing with car crime and accidents. There are a number of excellent lawyer firms available who can advise further on this situation and it's important that it is not left too late if the police are intending to move forward with prosecution. Overall, the main issue is that you must always stop and exchange details in an accident and if you can't do this, report the matter to the police as soon as possible.