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The Law if You Are the Driver in an Accident

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 29 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
The Law If You Are The Driver In An Accident

Hundreds of drivers are involved in traffic accidents every single day and there are strict laws that govern what motorists need to do in the case of a car crash, from swapping details to taking insurance information.

Having a bump, whether it’s big or small, can be very scary and upsetting, and it helps to be aware of the legal responsibilities you have if you are involved in an accident.

Not following proper legal procedures can work against you when you come to claim on your insurance policy and if you are pursuing a ‘no-fault’ claim, it can reduce your credibility if you inadvertently don’t do something you should.

There are some unscrupulous drivers who will spot that you don’t know what you need to do and will try to tell you what the law requires, so that they can take advantage of the situation – leave you facing a fault claim when you didn’t do anything wrong.

Determining Responsibility For The Accident

Sometimes it’s blatantly obvious who is at fault for a bump, other times it's not so clear. For instance, if someone pulls out too quickly onto a roundabout and reverses back to avoid a collision, hitting you in the process, then without witnesses it may be hard for you to prove that you didn't just go into the back of the car in front. Your insurance company can decide that the accident was your fault - as it is your responsibility to provide a safe braking distance - however unfair that might be.

Because lots of insurance companies tell drivers not to accept responsibility, it can be really hard to get someone to admit that an accident is their fault. Usually, the best thing to do is to not admit liability or try to force the other driver to do so, but to make a written note of what happened, and if possible, take photographs that show the positioning and angle of the vehicles, giving a clear indication of what happened. If possible, also get eyewitness contact details that you can refer back to later if necessary.

Do I Need to Stop My Car After an Accident?

If you are involved in a road traffic incident and any of the following points are applicable, you need to stop, regardless of whether or not the accident was your fault.

  • anyone is injured (other than you)
  • someone else's property or another vehicle is damaged
  • an animal on the road or in another vehicle is injured
  • part of the road furniture (street lamps, bollards, road signs) is damaged

If you need to stop, you must stay with the vehicle until anyone involved in the accident has had the chance to ask you for your contact information and/or insurance details. If you are asked for your information by anyone involved in the incident (e.g. injured person, owner of a dog injured in the bump, a police officer or witness) then you must supply your name and address, your registration number and if the car you are driving isn't yours, the details of the registered vehicle owner.

Do I Need to Report it to The Police?

If you didn't leave your details at the scene of the accident, then you are required to report the incident either to a police officer or in person at a police station. You must do this as soon as you can, and within 24 hours of the incident.

The Other Driver Asked for My Insurance Certificate. What Do I Do?

If you provided your contact information at the scene, or are reporting it at a police station later, then you will usually be asked to provide your insurance information to an attending police officer or another person involved in the incident (either directly or indirectly). This is most likely in the case of personal injury and insurance details are usually requested for most incidents. If you don't carry it with you, then you will need to take your certificate to the police station within 7 days of the accident.

Alternatively, if you do produce your contact details and insurance certificate at the scene of the accident then there is no need for the accident to be reported to the police, as long as you have given all the information required, as set out above.

Damage Only Incidents

If there was no other vehicle involved, but you cause damage to something, then you must supply your own insurance details to anyone who might want to pursue an insurance claim against you. You should also inform the police initially in the event that you damage any council or personally-owned property, but you don’t know who to tell. The police will then be able to pass the information onto the relevant parties

Do I Need to Tell my Insurance Company?

Yes. You should always inform your insurance policy of any incidents involving your vehicle. Failure to do so can invalidate your existing policy, regardless of who was to blame for the incident.

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[Add a Comment]
What happens when you dont hear any more from the person who you were involved in a slight car accident over six months ago her old car was slightly damagedon her front bumper she asked for mydetails which i gave her.but silly me i didnt get hers ,only phoned me once and havent heard anything since ,only when i got home that i have dents on my passengers side, just recentlytook ittoa place and quoted meabout €1,000 what can i do to solve this problem, thanks
Lindy - 29-May-17 @ 3:16 PM
Was in bumper to bumper traffic and hit the tow bar of the car in front doing no more than 10mph. My front bumper was damaged (easily fixed) no sign of any damage to the girls car. She got out looked at her car, she said herself and the kids were fine her tow bar had saved her car from being damaged. I offered my name address insurance details but she declined got back in her car and drove off. Not sure what to do next. I didn't know whether to reported it because nobody was injured her car wasn't damaged and we had a sort of agreement at the scene. Does the lady have any come back about this. I'm not sure what to do.
not sure - 5-May-17 @ 3:44 PM
Hi.I was at a 4 way stop sign and before going my car died and I made sure I start and before I go the driver behind me was too close to my car said I hit his car with my tow bar but his car had a scratch on his far right down and we did an accident report but he didn't open a case now he pushes me and intimidates me to pay him.I even have a record where he says he is not desperate he can fix his car case closed.what can I do cause I fear for my life
zee - 23-Apr-17 @ 1:21 PM
My daughter was driving to work, when a woman in the car infront, (who didnt look to be concentrating on the road,) when realising the lights was changing to red slammed on the brakes and came to a complete stop, my daughter which at this point doing 10mph, slammed on her brakes and clipped the back of the ladys car. The lady continued around the corner after the lights and looked to be driving off, my daughter then followed with the traffic, and noticed the lady had pulled in, stuck in traffic my daughter then tried to pull over but by this point was further down the street, and could no longer see the woman.No damage was seen on my daughters car,shes very shaken up and doesnt know what to do now, shes only had her licence a couple of weeks, Thanks in advance for any info
Nik - 5-Apr-17 @ 12:51 PM
Smiley - Your Question:
I was coming out of multi storey car park and caught my rear wheel, I need to get this looked at as it's making an odd noise. I have full comprehensive insurance so should I go through them firstly or have it done privately?

Our Response:
That's entirely up to you unless you caught your rear wheel on another vehicle, in which case you may have to report it to your insurance company anyway (check your policy small print).
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 30-Mar-17 @ 11:51 AM
I was coming out of multi storey car park and caught my rear wheel, I need to get this looked at as it's making an odd noise.I have full comprehensive insurance so should I go through them firstly or have it done privately?
Smiley - 29-Mar-17 @ 7:40 AM
I was parked on the side of the road today and pretty much boxed in. I thought I could manoeuvre out of the space but reversed into the car parked behind me. No damage was done to either car and no injury to anyone involved. I informed the owner of the car who came to move it and check it over. He didn't ask for my details as he said there was no damage but I saw him take a photo of my registration plate. I have a sickening feeling that he might report it as a hit and run, even though I wanted to give him my details just in case. What would you do in this situation? I have spoken to the police about the incident but didn't manage to take the other cars registration. I've also written to my insurance company just in case they do claim!
Becks - 24-Mar-17 @ 11:52 PM
Hello, I am a cyclist. Today i cut off a motorbike at a junction on accident. He swerved and braked to try to avoid hitting me and fell of his bike causing significant damage to his bike. Am i liable to any form of punishment/penalties because the accident was my fault?
Hunter - 21-Mar-17 @ 6:32 PM
My car was parked on a road overnight (saturday) when it was crashed into! the police then towed the vehical away as it as an obstruction! they didnt tell me this or inform me. So i come out the next day, walk to my car, gone! Ok after a lot of pissing around i find that they have towed my car a good 40 miles away and im liable for the £250 tow charge and £20 a storage fee! Err no over my dead body. I do not want to claim on my insurance as the car was worth £150 at best and i will loose my no claims and im not paying the tow charge i lost my job and in crippling debt and signed off work due to stress and my mental health. Please advise.
F'DOFF - 7-Mar-17 @ 8:37 AM
Stevie- Your Question:
I was parked at road side when a bus hit my car while I was in it and bashed the side of my car, but the bus never stopped. Eye witness got the bus reg number and when called bus station they admitted the damage. I was slightly injured to my knee with needs slight surgery. But there are trying to say I wasn't hurt. My lawyer trying to get me my claim. Is it a serious offence for the bus to hit and run without stopping after hitting my car.? And can I use that against then for them to pay up more as I need go for surgery. Thanks

Our Response:
If your injury is a direct result of the collision you should submit a claim, especially if you are going to miss work or have to pay for the treatment. The bus driver may not have realised anyone was in the vehicle at the time which could be why he/she didn't stop, so we can't really comment on the severity of the offence.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 2-Mar-17 @ 10:21 AM
Loopylou - Your Question:
I was pulling out from behind a bus that had stopped into the other lane. I looked indicated and pulled out however another car also did the same and collided into my driver side rear of vehicle. He then collided into two other vehicles. He is now saying that I ran into him (even tho he was behind). It was him who ran into me. Who's fault is it

Our Response:
We cannot give any advice on blame in instances like these where we only have one version of events. Did you look in your rear view mirror before pulling out?
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 1-Mar-17 @ 12:37 PM
a tipper truck always parks outside our driveway. the tipper truck is owned by a neighbour. we have spoken to him numerous of times to move it as we cannot pull off our driveway due to the tipper being an obstructions. this morning he has parked it outside againI am reversing off the driveway and he enters into his car and pulls off. I continue to move onto the road and he suddenly reversed into my car.firstly he said it was my fault as he was already reversing which he wasn't and then he says it's 50/50
annoyed - 1-Mar-17 @ 10:15 AM
I was parked at road side when a bus hit my car while I was in it and bashed the side of my car, but the bus never stopped . Eye witness got the bus reg number and when called bus station they admitted the damage. I was slightly injured to my knee with needs slight surgery. But there are trying to say I wasn't hurt . My lawyer trying to get me my claim. Is it a serious offence for the bus to hit and run without stopping after hitting my car.? And can I use that against then for them to pay up more as I need go for surgery. Thanks
Stevie - 28-Feb-17 @ 1:45 PM
I was pulling out from behind a bus that had stopped into the other lane. I looked indicated and pulled out however another car also did the same and collided into my driver side rear of vehicle. He then collided into two other vehicles. He is now saying that I ran into him (even tho he was behind). It was him who ran into me. Who's fault is it
Loopylou - 27-Feb-17 @ 7:40 PM
I was driving to work this morning and the car in front of me stopped at a green light as there was a police car with sirens coming through a different set of traffic lights. The police car had no indicator on so I knew it wasn't turning my way but I hit the back of the car in front of me. Who is to blame for this?
Banky - 17-Feb-17 @ 1:59 PM
I was involved in an accident where 3rd party hit me at a roundabout as I was coming to a stand still to let other cars pass from my right the 3rd party accepted liability but his insurance are now saying they are investigating as his told them I've breaked for no reason as they weren't any cars at the roundabout which there was what's the best thing to do in this situation and what's will the outcome be please help
Rick - 14-Feb-17 @ 2:30 PM
Charlie - Your Question:
My grandson was following traffic through a green light, a man walked out in front of Him smashing his windscreen and damaged his car, the man was taken to hospital, police were involved. There were lots of whitnesses to back him up. How does he stand insurance wise? If a car he could claim of their insurance but this ?

Our Response:
He should contact his insurance company and ask them. They may be able to advise on how he can claim from the person.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 10-Feb-17 @ 2:20 PM
My friend's car was parked in a village hall car park. The mini bus from there reversed into it and badly dented it. It is rather old, and the insurance company are likely to write the car off. The driver who hit his car didn't contact him or the police. He says he left a note on the car and called at his home. Neither are true, as he was in all day. The village hall are not keen to go through his insurance for some reason. They are trying to offer £100 compensation. We know the driver hit someone else's parked car about 5 weeks ago. The village hall are saying if it goes through the insurance, they will make a counter claim for damage to their bus as my friend's car was apparently 'inconsiderately parked'. He may have been a few inches over the white lines of the space, but that is all. We think they're hiding something. Any advice will be welcome as to where he stands. Thank you.
DEBRA - 10-Feb-17 @ 12:05 AM
My grandson was following traffic through a green light, a man walked out in front of Him smashing his windscreen and damaged his car, the man was taken to hospital, police were involved. There were lots of whitnesses to back him up. How does he stand insurance wise? If a car he could claim of their insurance but this ?
Charlie - 8-Feb-17 @ 7:22 PM
I was driving and lost control of my car and went off the road I didn't hit anything or anyone and there was no damage to my car so I just pulled out and continued driving, but there were many witnesses as well as a traffic camera I believe. But if there was no damage is it okay that I just left ?
suz - 7-Feb-17 @ 8:34 PM
I hit a car on Friday on a car park. Entirely my fault. Car was unoccupied. It was at my doctors surgery so I left name and number with receptionist. I called police and emailed my insurance company same day to report what I had done. Woman and I exchanged a few texts same day. Said if she wanted to sort out privately and it didn't cost more than my excess I was happy to! Damage to my car is already fixed as I have a friend who does body work and cost me £65. She called me 48 hours ago and said she had been quoted £1000 and it was going was going to take a week. (I think she is being mugged off to be honest!) I said "ok we will need to go through insurance then!" She said she had busy weekend and she would call me today (Monday) to sort it. I have heard nothing from her. My worry is that she might be getting the work done privately and expecting me to pay. I have not agreed to this. Said if repairs would cost over £250 (my excess) I wanted to go via insurers. If she does decide to get work done privately and lands me with a bill then am I obliged to pay it?
Vicki - 6-Feb-17 @ 9:29 PM
Fx - Your Question:
A woman pedestrian walked out in front of my husband's car as he was crossing a junction. He didn't see her in time and hit her. He wasn't speeding or drunk or anything like that and the traffic lights were green for him , so pedestrian lights must have been red. The woman claimed she couldn't see well. She also didn't look.She wasn't seriously injured at the scene but was quite old so ambulance took her to hospital. The police attended but did not give my husband any ref number. The policeman promised to call my husband later and give him the woman's name. He never called. Days later I called the police and asked for the woman's name because my husband needed it for his work insurance paperwork. Police declined to give her name or any other details, so my husband can't fill in paperwork for insurance. The police took witness statements but my husband was too shaken up and being sick at the scene to get any witness names (he thought the police would take care of that but I don't think they will give him details of witnesses).Now a couple of weeks later my husband has received a letter from traffic police that they are investigating the accident but they still have not given my husband the details he needs for his insurance. I think the police have been very negligent and should not refuse to give details my husband needs for his insurance. How can we proceed? My husband is extremely stressed and becoming ill with worry. We need advice.

Our Response:
Tell your husband to call and give them what details he has. The police will have a case number (which they should have given your husband) which the insurance company can use to find out more information.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 6-Feb-17 @ 2:26 PM
Warbs85 - Your Question:
Do I have to inform my own insurer if I was a passenger in an accident in my company's vehicle?

Our Response:
No this shouldn't be necessary.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 6-Feb-17 @ 10:58 AM
Hi, Just wondering whether your could advise me. I 'tapped' the car in front this morning. Driver was stationary and I had just come off a roundabout round the corner and 'tap'. Totally my fault and he got out of his car and took a picture. I thought I had also taken a picture but there wasn't any damage and he said it's one of those things, it's rush hour and no damage - he then slapped me on my back and got in car and drove off. I have gotten to work and was explaining to the lads here and went to look for the photo, but the camera hasn't taken the photo. Do I report this to the police, my insurance. I don't want my premium to go up which I've heard it will if I report it even though no damage and no claim. But without the picture I have no back up.
trey - 6-Feb-17 @ 10:33 AM
A woman pedestrian walked out in front of my husband's car as he was crossing a junction. He didn't see her in time and hit her. He wasn't speeding or drunk or anything like that and the traffic lights were green for him , so pedestrian lights must have been red. The woman claimed she couldn't see well. She also didn't look. She wasn't seriously injured at the scene but was quite old so ambulance took her to hospital. The police attended but did not give my husband any ref number. The policeman promised to call my husband later and give him the woman's name. He never called. Days later I called the police and asked for the woman's name because my husband needed it for his work insurance paperwork. Police declined to give her name or any other details, so my husband can't fill in paperwork for insurance. The police took witness statements but my husband was too shaken up and being sick at the scene to get any witness names (he thought the police would take care of that but I don't think they will give him details of witnesses). Now a couple of weeks later my husband has received a letter from traffic police that they are investigating the accident but they still have not given my husband the details he needs for his insurance. I think the police have been very negligent and should not refuse to give details my husband needs for his insurance. How can we proceed? My husband is extremely stressed and becoming ill with worry. We need advice.
Fx - 4-Feb-17 @ 10:32 AM
Do i have to inform my own insurer if i was a passenger in an accident in my company's vehicle?
Warbs85 - 3-Feb-17 @ 10:55 AM
A bit of a weird one, I don't drive but I'm just wondering if anyone on here can answer my question. I was in a taxi whilst he pulled over so I could go to the shop, walking back to the car I fell on ice and caused a small dent. Am I liable or so taxi drivers have insurance to cover this as he's gave me a £120 recipt and I just can't afford it. Thanks in advance
ChefAnt - 26-Jan-17 @ 2:21 PM
I was went into the back of someone in a mobility car in my mum's name, this had gone through her insurance, do I need to inform my own car insurance company that I have for my own car?
Vix - 24-Jan-17 @ 6:17 PM
I was entering my car noticed approaching car coming so I stood between my door and my car to let it pass the next thing was they hit the seem of the door buckled the door they had the full road to pass if my car door was closed the wing mirror would have got lt who's to blame.
Reco - 22-Jan-17 @ 12:45 PM
A car bumped into my car yesterday I wasn't in the car I seen it through a window. I went out got the other cars details etc, Who's insurance company do I phone mine or there's?
MS - 20-Jan-17 @ 8:37 PM
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