At the scene of a traffic accident.

Car crash or traffic accident, there are many schools of thought as to what you should and should not do at the scene. All parties involved in the traffic accident have legal obligations. What you do at the scene of the traffic accident may have direct implications to you weeks or months after the accident has occurred. This Manners Pimblett article is a guide on what to do at the scene of an accident.

The traffic accident

Regardless of how experienced a driver you are, car accidents happen. Traffic accidents are a stressful time and the key to getting through is keeping calm and not to lose your temper. If the traffic accident has caused injury or damage to property or vehicles involved then there is a legal requirement to stop at the scene for a reasonable period of time.

  • Make the scene safe
  • Prevent further risk of accident
  • Make the accident scene safe
  • Switch off the engine of your vehicle
  • Switch on the Hazard Warning lights

Do I need to call the Police?

If anyone in the accident is injured or the traffic accident has created an ongoing risk to other road users then you need to call 999 or 112 if you are using a mobile telephone. Another circumstance to call the Police after an accident, would be if somebody leaves the scene after being involved and they have not exchanged details.

What details do I need?

When you have had a road traffic accident you should always exchange details with the other driver(s), here are some of the details you should get (and give):

  • Full Name
  • The drivers address
  • Their telephone number
  • Insurance company details
  • Check to see if they are the vehicle owner? If not get the owners antecedence.
  • The vehicle make, model, colour and registration
  • Note any other vehicles involved in the accident
  • Note the names and addresses of any potential witnesses and passengers.

Give your details to the other driver.

It is a legal requirement for you to give your details to the other parties involved in a traffic accident. If for any reason you have not given all of your details at the scene of a traffic accident, then you must report the traffic accident to a Police Station within 24 hours.

Who is involved in the accident?

Any vehicle that is directly or indirectly involved in the accident needs to stop and give details. This means a vehicle may not be physically involved in the accident but may have caused it by pulling out onto the road and the knock on effect is the accident your car is involved in. They need to provide their details. If they do not stop you will need to make a note of their registration number and report the matter to the Police.

Be thorough with your notes.

The information you take at the scene of a traffic accident (or any accident) may be useful weeks or months later. You may feel fine immediately after the accident, but whiplash takes time to set in, so you may need to make a claim for compensation. To make a successful accident claim you need to prove that someone else is at fault for the accident; your notes, sketches and photographs will make your case stronger. Any information you can gather at the scene of a car crash may be detrimental. Make sketches, note road names and if you can take photographs.

Sketch the accident

Make a sketch of the scene depicting the street names, the vehicles final resting position, the direction of travel leading up to the accident and any other relevant information that may help understand what had happened to cause the accident.

What should I photograph?

If you can take photographs (mobile phone camera?) of the scene of the car cash or traffic accident, then you will be providing an excellent source of information, which with your notes and sketches may become evidence about your accident. Here are a few pointers of what to photograph:

  • Damage to your vehicle
  • Damage to property
  • Damage to the other parties' vehicle(s)
  • Skid marks if any present
  • Overview of the scene
  • Final positions of the vehicles

Watch what you say at the accident

Although a traffic accident is an emotional and stressful time, it is important to control what you say. Regardless of how you feel at the roadside, never admit liability or offer any time of settlement to another person. This may be used against you at a latter date. Even politeness can be misconstrued as admitting liability.

What else should I do?

As soon as is practical you need to notify your insurance company. This is whether you intend to make a claim or not (No damage to your car, you must still tell your insurance company as others may claim against your insurance). Your insurance policy may be invalidated if you do not inform them in good time following being involved in a traffic accident. You should send them copies of the notes, sketches and photographs you have taken at the scene of the accident.

Other aspects to note at an accident.

In addition to the other details Manners Pimblett has mentioned to record at the scene of an accident, it is important to note other contributing factors. For example, you may suspect that the other driver had been drinking or using a mobile telephone while driving. Perhaps the additional note may be about the environment on the day, what was the road like, were there any potholes that could have caused the accident or what was the weather like?

Other help

For further help and advice following a traffic accident call Manners Pimblett on 0845 0770772

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