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The Law if You Are the Driver in an Accident

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 18 Jan 2018 | 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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This morning the roads were real bad with snow, I was doing 5mph when I came to a steep hill at the end of my street, I applied the breaks in plenty of time but my car wouldn't stop, at the bottom of the hill there was a bus so I had to swerve to not fully go in to the side of the bus, I did however end up clipping the bottom left hand corner of the bus, I stopped but when I looked around the bus hadn't stopped and kept going. My car has some scrapes but is otherwise ok. I'm really concerned ( I'm an over thinker and the worst possible scenarios are going through my head ?? ) x
Worried - 18-Jan-18 @ 8:27 AM
I reversed into a car. We looked at our cars at the scene, agreed no damage as it was very slow, we parted ways. I saw him in my rear view taking down my number plate. I am worried they may try to claim for damage he causes later. Can they do this?Thanks.
Cardriver332 - 12-Jan-18 @ 9:22 PM
Lulu2324 - Your Question:
Hi my partner was travelling to wor this morning and a motorcyclist crashed in front of him and to avoid hitting the bike and rider he swerved and hit a tree, insurance company are sating this is a no fault accident because he didn't hit the bike, is that correct?

Our Response:
We can't comment on individual liability issues here sorry.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 15-Dec-17 @ 12:11 PM
Hi my partner was travelling to wor this morning and a motorcyclist crashed in front of him and to avoid hitting the bike and rider he swerved and hit a tree, insurance company are sating this is a no fault accident because he didn't hit the bike, is that correct?
Lulu2324 - 12-Dec-17 @ 5:25 PM
I was doing a turn in the road and a van speeding off a roundabout hit my car, spun me right round, set my air bags off and caused me some pain! Who’s at fault
Sam - 8-Dec-17 @ 10:47 AM
@B You ought to be banned for this. Driving without insurance or a licence is just pathetically irresponsible. If that child had to have lifetime treatment for his injuries, who would have paid for those? Why do you think you have the right to ignore the laws while everyone else abides by them.
KeepOffTheRoads - 14-Nov-17 @ 10:35 AM
B - Your Question:
Hi, iv had an accident involving a young child aged about 12-13. I was going off the roundabout into a road. I was doing around 30mph but I had already accumulated that speed just about getting on to the road. there were cars stuck in traffic on the right lane as I was driving on the left a child had run out from in between thr traffic and it was heavy traffic and I didnt see him until he ran out and there was no time for me to slow down. I did what I could and came to a stop as soon as I did hit him. thankfully he was ok but nothing too serious. I also at the time did not have no license or insurance to drive the car but I have many witnesses who have seen what happened and said that it was an accident and was not my fault as the child had ran into the middle of the road. I would like to know what would I need to do now and if there is any advice you can give me to help me in this situationthanks

Our Response:
This of course should be reported to the police - in fact all the details of what you need to do are in the above article so please read it carefully. You will almost certainly be charged for dirving with no licence or insurance.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 14-Nov-17 @ 10:29 AM
Hi, iv had an accident involving a young child aged about 12-13. i was going off the roundabout into a road. i was doing around 30mph but i had already accumulated that speed just about getting on to the road. there were cars stuck in traffic on the right lane as i was driving on the left a child had run out from in between thr traffic and it was heavy traffic and i didnt see him until he ran out and there was no time for me to slow down. i did what i could and came to a stop as soon as i did hit him. thankfully he was ok but nothing too serious. I also at the time did not have no license or insurance to drive the car but i have many witnesses who have seen what happened and said that it was an accident and was not my fault as the child had ran into the middle of the road. I would like to know what would i need to do now and if there is any advice you can give me to help me in this situation thanks
B - 12-Nov-17 @ 2:57 AM
I was waiting to turn onto my street when a bus started reverse out of the street next to me, I reversed quickly to get out of he way and hit a parked car.Both mine the parked car have scratches on.The bus drove away and I don’t think it realised what happened. What do I need to do???
Maizey - 10-Nov-17 @ 7:27 PM
I was reversing out of car park space and noticed someone else doing the same across from me. I stopped and he didn't, I beeped my horn but he didn't notice and hit my car. It was raining badly and we check and couldn't see any damage so I left without taking his details. I have now noticed a scratch on my bumper. I have his registration plate but don't know if I can do anything with it now as it happened 6 days ago now. Is there anything I can do or do I have to pay to fix the damage. Really worried to tell my husband as he was mad when I didn't take the guys details. Thanks
Worried - 10-Nov-17 @ 2:24 PM
Hi - a TfL bus hit my parked car outside my house and caused a reasonable about of damage (possible door and wing replacement). The driver stop and I got all the details. I called the operator of the bus and still waiting for a reply. I've been advised to not action my own insurer (I don't want my premiums to go up). However, my car is out of action and I am accruing additional travel costs as a result. Will I be able to claim this back with the bus companies insurer and will I be able to ensure my car is sent to an approved garage for my make and model? Thank you.
DB123 - 8-Nov-17 @ 5:02 PM
Chris - Your Question:
I have just past my test. Waiting to come out from a roundabout and a women was indicating to tune left but dine it to soon I went to go but she went right past me. So with being over the line I reversed back and hit a bus there is no damage to my car but the bussaid I had puched the head light in I have taken picture of it both the buss and my car. He took my details shall I get in contact with my insurance and tell them are wait until they get hold of me I don't know what to do

Our Response:
Yes it's always advisable to inform your insurer if you have been involved in any sort of collision with another party.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 8-Nov-17 @ 12:33 PM
I have just past my test. Waiting to come out from a roundabout and a women was indicating to tune left but dine it to soon I went to go but she went right past me. So with being over the line I reversed back and hit a bus there is no damage to my car but the bussaid I had puched the head light in I have taken picture of it both the buss and my car. He took my details shall I get in contact with my insurance and tell them are wait until they get hold of me I don't know what to do
Chris - 7-Nov-17 @ 12:30 PM
James - Your Question:
Driving to work today a stationary car pulled out to the middle of the road with no indication, causing me to go straight into the back of her. Left to check passengers in other vehicles were ok, neither spoke english. I returned to my car to get my phone tocall insurers, when I looked round they had driven off! I did not have time to take any details down, what do I do? Regards

Our Response:
You could try contacting the police?
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 1-Nov-17 @ 1:42 PM
Clairelucy - Your Question:
Hello, please can you help me?I was in an accident in August and was driving his car. The insurers are diputing whose fault it was. I was driving the car 3rd party. I've just realised that my own car wasn't taxed and MOTd at the time of the accident (i know, it was a genuine mistake). I was definitely insured. Do I need to be worried? I feel sick with worry. Thank you.

Our Response:
Were you driving as a name driving or as third party on the basis of your own insurance?
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 1-Nov-17 @ 9:49 AM
Driving to work today a stationary car pulled out to the middle of the road with no indication, causing me to go straight into the back of her. Left to check passengers in other vehicles were ok, neither spoke english. I returned to my car to get my phone tocall insurers, when i looked round they had driven off! I did not have time to take any details down, what do i do? Regards
James - 30-Oct-17 @ 4:08 PM
Sorry i meant to say i was driving my partner's car.
Clairelucy - 29-Oct-17 @ 9:47 AM
Hello, please can you help me? I was in an accident in August and was driving his car. The insurers are diputing whose fault it was. I was driving the car 3rd party. I've just realised that my own car wasn't taxed and MOTd at the time of the accident (i know, it was a genuine mistake). I was definitely insured. Do i need to be worried? I feel sick with worry. Thank you.
Clairelucy - 29-Oct-17 @ 9:46 AM
I had stopped at a junction to turn right and my view was blocked and there was a car parked opposite the junction I began to crawl out of the junction doing no more than 5mph and with no warning a car appeared and I ended up bumping the side of his car this car was driving in the middle of the road and from a few people I have spoke to and the damage to both cars was definitely traveling more than 20mph. My insurance company won’t speak to my whiteness or take her dash cam footage! What can I do as they are saying I’m liable but if he was speeding surly it’s 50/50 what do I do?!
Burt - 27-Oct-17 @ 6:23 PM
Dee - Your Question:
I ran a stop sign on a country road and crashed into another veichle. The ground was wet and the sun was low, I was blinded by the sun and the glare of the road. No one was hurt. I admitted full liability at the scene. I have been given a summons to go to court next week. I already have six penalty points on my license. What is going to happen? I'm petrified of losing my license.

Our Response:
We really don't know what a judge will decide as he/she will be in full possession of the all the facts etc
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 24-Oct-17 @ 9:48 AM
I ran a stop sign on a country road and crashed into another veichle. The ground was wet and the sun was low, I was blinded by the sun and the glare of the road. No one was hurt. I admitted full liability at the scene. I have been given a summons to go to court next week. I already have six penalty points on my license. What is going to happen? I'm petrified of losing my license.
Dee - 21-Oct-17 @ 9:48 AM
Hi I was reversing back and I just hit the behind car but with no damage as I was slowly reversing back. But no damage on my car or the parked car none at all. So if there is no damage then what happens next?
zeinab - 11-Sep-17 @ 5:24 PM
I was reversing coming out of my car parking space, I had checked both ways to see if there was any other cars/people about. there was nothing coming so i pulled out slowly. I kept on checking both sides to make sure nothing was coming and next thing i know i here something hit my car. They have made a hole in my back bumper, and marks all down the back. not a mark on his car. he was speeding as the speed limit is only 5mph. insurance is saying its my fault but hes the one whos hit me.
livs - 28-Aug-17 @ 4:05 PM
Row - Your Question:
Stopped at traffic lights at a roundabout. The other driver in his 50's crashed into my rear bumper, damage doesn't seem too much upon sight unless proven otherwise by Professional inspections. Came off the car to see damage, the other driver came off his car too, was going to grab my phone from the car to exchange details but driver just drove off.Please What do I do?

Our Response:
Report it to the police. Hopefully you managed to get the car's registration number at least.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 3-Aug-17 @ 2:15 PM
Stopped at traffic lights at a roundabout. The other driver in his 50's crashed into my rear bumper, damage doesn't seem too much upon sight unless proven otherwise by Professional inspections. Came off the car to see damage, the other driver came off his car too, was going to grab my phone from the car to exchange details but driver just drove off. Please What do I do?
Row - 1-Aug-17 @ 10:46 AM
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
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