Critical things to do after a road accident

Whether the accident was your fault or not, there are a number of critical things to do immediately after the accident if you can.

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These steps will:

  • maximise your chances of making a successful personal injury claim 
  • make sure you have not breached your legal obligations as a driver
  • are best placed to defend yourself against any allegations made subsequently by the other driver

If you have just had a road accident, you will probably be in a state of shock.  It will be difficult to remember everything you need to do so may be worth printing out the following checklist and keeping it in your car. 

Checklist

  • Stay on the scene.  It is an offence to simply drive away following a road traffic accident, so remain there until  you have exchanged contact and insurance details with the other parties
  • Call the police to the scene of the accident. Eve if the injuries sustained are not that serious at the time, further complications may arise. If the police attend the scene then the will create an official police report which may help your case at a later stage.

    The report will contain all pertinent information and may even include an opinion of where the fault lies. You should obtain a copy of the report.
  • If you can, obtain names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses,
  • Seek medical attention asap even if the injuries are relatively minor. Ask the medical professional to provide written evidence of the consultation and any treatment.
  • Do not accept liability. This is incredibly important. If another driver was at fault, doing so at this early stage could compromise your position if you, or another party, choose to take legal action.
    Simply exchange details and note the facts.
  • Write an account of what happened and include everything you can think of, eve if it does not seem that relevant at the time.  In particular note down:
    • If a lorry is involved, look for a company name on the side. Note down the registration of both the lorry and its trailer, as they may be different.
    • Record the make, model, registration and colour of all vehicles involved in the accident.
    • Look at the weather conditions and the condition of the road: how might this have contributed to what happened? Is the light bad, the road wet, is it foggy? Is there any debris on the road?
    • Record what damage was caused to both your vehicle and all others involved.
    • Record any damage to property other than the vehicles involved.
    • Take a note of all injuries sustained to drivers and passengers, as well as pedestrians.
    • Take the collar or badge number of the officer in charge if the police are called, in case you need to get back in touch later.
    • Take photos of everything including your injuries, any damage to the car, the accident scene etc. Photos should be taken from as many angles as possible.
    • If a lorry or van was involved: look for a company name on the side. Note down the registration of both the lorry and its trailer, as they may be different.
  • After the accident you should retain any receipts for expenses incurred as a result if the accident. Retain all relevant correspondence.
  • Keep a diary about your injuries, Be specific and include as much detail about the level of pain and inconvenience being experienced.
  • Ask your employer to write a letter confirming the amount of time you have had off work, any impairment to doing your job and confirmation of any loss of earnings.
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When should you phone your insurance company?

Ideally, straight away. They will request the following from you:

  • The registration details of all vehicles involved in the accident.
  • The names, addresses and phone numbers of all drivers involved.
  • The insurance details of all drivers involved.
  • Information by which they can identify you such as your policy number or vehicle registration.

Read more about making a road accident claim here.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

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