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What should I do to comply with the law if I have a car accident?


The scenario is unfortunately a common one – an employee or director driving on work related business is involved in an RTA. What does the driver need to do to comply with the law?

If one or more of the following occurs:

  • anyone, other than the driver, is injured;
  • another vehicle or any other property is damaged;
  • an animal has been killed/injured, except in the driver’s vehicle (an 'animal' means 'any horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog').

The driver must:

  • stop and remain at the scene for a reasonable period;
  • give registration number, name and address, and that of the vehicle owner (if different), to anyone with reasonable grounds for asking;
  • if details are not exchanged at the scene, you must report the accident in person at a police station or to a PC as soon as you can, and in any case within 24 hours.

Where injury is caused to another, then in addition you must also produce a certificate of insurance to anyone at the scene who has reasonable grounds to see it.  If not, you must report the accident in person at a police station or to a PC as soon as you can, and in any case within 24 hours. 

Failure to comply with these obligations can mean two offences are being committed: failing to stop and failing to report.  You can be guilty of either or both.  The penalties are a fine up to £5,000 and 5 - 10 points. The Court can disqualify you from driving and often does when both offences are committed together.  They also carry a maximum of 6 months' imprisonment.

Even if there is no personal injury, if someone holds you responsible for the accident, they have the right to request your insurance details.  This request can be made later; it does not necessarily have to be at the time of the accident.  A failure to provide that information without a reasonable excuse is also an offence.

Contrary to popular belief, provided you comply with the requirements to stop, exchange information and in injury cases to produce your insurance, there is no automatic obligation to report an accident to the Police. Accordingly it is wise to keep a copy of the insurance certificate in the vehicle.

You should make anyone who drives on work related business (anything other than commuting to their normal place of work) aware of the law before allowing them to drive. A simple way to do this is to copy this article, ensure all drivers have read it, and keep a copy in their vehicle.

For further help or advice, please contact Jeremy Scott

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