What to do after a car accident

Cars, buses and motorbike traffic in town

Not everyone will be involved in a car accident but it’s important that people understand what to do if that day ever happened. This is true whether you’re a driver, passenger or even a witness to a crash.

Most people know what to do in the event of an emergency:

  • If people are injured call for an ambulance by dialling 999 
  • If there is a fire, fuel spill or need of a water rescue then call 999 and ask for the fire service
  • If the crash is blocking the road call 999 and ask for the police

But what do you do after a minor car accident? Who do you phone? Are there things expected of you? What if you can’t get the information you need? 

What follows is some vital guidance that may help should you be caught in, or bear witness to, a minor car crash.

What to do after a minor car accident

1 - Stop the car, turn off the engine and turn on the hazards.

If you are involved in an accident, check yourself and passengers for injuries. 

Don’t be in a rush to get out of the vehicle. Check your surroundings. Your car may not be in a safe position on the road and you don’t want to get out of the vehicle and stumble into oncoming traffic. Take your time and stay calm.

2 - Get the contact details of the other driver and their vehicle.

This includes their registration plate, their insurance details and their driving license. If you don’t have a pen and paper handy then try and take a photo on your smartphone. 

If the driver refuses then you should contact the police as it is a criminal offence to refuse to provide details following an accident. The police can then get the details and prepare an accident report. (You should also call the police if you think the person is under the influence of drink or drugs – report this on 101/999.)

3 - Take photos or videos of the scene of the accident.

Pay attention to capturing the identity of the other driver, the position of the vehicles on the road and things like skidmarks on the road as you may come to rely on it later.

4 – Report the incident to your insurance company.

You are obligated to report any road traffic accident you’re involved in to your insurer (or the police) within 24 hours. 

Regardless of who was at fault, and even if you don’t want to make a claim for damage to your car, you must still alert them to the crash as it will affect things like your no claims bonus and any claim the other driver may present in the future.

5 – Seek medical help

If you suffered an injury in the crash, or develop pain which is likely to have related to the crash, then you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. 

This is important as it helps directly link the crash to the cause of your injury and your medical records will be evidence of this. But if you ‘put on a brave face’ and delay medical help then you could actually harm yourself, and any future claim, down the line.

What to do after a hit and run or if the driver is uninsured?

Provided it is safe, remain at the scene and call the police. This way they can still carry out necessary investigations from the crash site and complete the necessary reports if they need to. This also contributes to evidence that could be used later in a claim with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB). 

The MIB exists to compensate victims of car crashes where the driver of the other vehicle either cannot be traced or has no insurance and there are no other routes to recovering damages. 

What if I am hit by a foreign driver?

A foreign lorry - some foreign lorries have different registration plates for the cab and the trailer so take photographs of all identifying plates and numbers you can see.

A foreign car or motorhome – it should be possible to trace the insurer from the registration plate but there are cases in which foreign registrations are duplicated or stolen and so in these circumstances you should aim to get as much information about the driver (such as the hotel they are staying at or who their employer is if they are here on work purpose). 

What if I am hit by a taxi or hired vehicle?

If you have a collision with a taxi or a hired vehicle it is important to obtain the driver’s name and address and full details of their employer or the hire company. Always try and take a photograph or note down the vehicle registration number.

If they refuse to provide such information you should contact the police. 

When should I speak to Digby Brown about my car crash injury claim?

Seeking any medical treatment should be your priority. But once you’re able to, you should speak to us as soon as possible. Our expert solicitors may even be able to help you get access to improved medical care not available on the NHS which would in turn aid your recovery.  

Seeking legal advice quickly also means the right evidence can be gathered quickly. We have found that delays to a claim means witness memories can become hazy or paperwork can be mislaid, acting quickly is always advisable.

Fine more information on how Digby Brown can help, no win, no fee funding and the car accident injury claims process. If you want to speak to someone about your legal options please contact us, we are open seven days a week for calls or simply fill in an enquiry form and tell when is best for us to speak to you.

But ultimately, we hope you are now better prepared in the event of a non-emergency crash:

  • Stop – the car: always.
  • Swap – details with the other driver.
  • Film – as much as you can.
  • Call – Digby Brown.