Whether you are a driver, passenger or a witness, knowing what to do following a road traffic accident is vitally important, and ultimately could save lives.
Stop at the scene
Following a motor accident the first thing that must be done is to stop at the scene of the accident. If you are involved in a road traffic accident it is a criminal offence not to stop at the scene of a vehicle accident.
Check if anyone is injured
Check to see if anyone involved in the accident is injured. That includes you, your passengers, any other drivers and their passengers together with any pedestrians that may have been injured as a result of the accident.
- Do not attempt to move anyone unless they are in immediate danger of suffering further injury.
- Do not attempt to remove a motor cyclist helmet unless you are certain their airway if blocked or they are not breathing.
- Ask if anyone nearby is capable of administering First Aid.
- Call 999 for an ambulance and Police as soon as possible if you feel anyone as suffered a serious injury, or if anyone has sustained a head injury. It is important to note that the extent of a head injury may not be immediately known. The victim may be suffering from a closed head injury, or concussion.
Check to see if there is any danger of accident debris, or the positions of the vehicles causing a further accident. If possible try to clear any obstacles, and place warning signs to alert other road users that there has been an accident ahead. If the vehicles are blocking the road call the Police.
Obtain Details of anyone involved in the accident.
Details should be taken of any other drivers involved in the accident. That includes their name and address, insurance details and vehicle registration number. You are obliged to give them these details in exchange. Do not accept any blame or liability for the accident as this could invalidate your insurance cover.
Make notes of the accident location and conditions.
Gathering as much information at the scene of an accident to support any accident claim you may make is essential. Make a note of the:
- Accident location
- Weather conditions
- Position of the vehicles
- Vehicle makes and colour
- Areas of damage sustained to the vehicles
- The road layout (including road signs)
- The time and date
The easiest way to record most information is by using the camera on your mobile phone. Most people have a mobile phone with them so take as many pictures as possible from various angles showing the vehicles and the location.
Obtain witness details
Independent witness evidence to a motor accident can often be crucial. Most people do not, or will not accept they are bad drivers and will not accept liability for an accident even if they are clearly in the wrong. Because of this liability for road traffic accidents is often difficult to determine.
On many occasions, in the absence of independent witness evidence, responsibility for road accidents is apportioned on a 50/50 basis meaning both parties share the blame equally. For instance two cars approaching in opposite directions on a country road, with no witness evidence results in a situation of one person’s word against another.
This is why at the scene of a road accident do everything possible to obtain the names and addresses of anyone who witnessed the accident.
Whilst passengers may provide witness evidence, because they are known to you the weight of their testimony will not be considered in the same light as an independent witness’s.
Notify the Police and your Insurers
Once you have returned home, drink a cup of tea and notify the police if you haven’t already done so. Then contact your insurance company to report the accident.
Get medical attention
If you have suffered an accident injury that didn’t require urgent medical attention then you should contact your local doctor to assess the extent of your injuries.
Some injuries such as soft tissue and back injuries can take a day or two to manifest, while others such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following a serious and traumatic road traffic accident can take years to diagnose.
It is important that you visit a medical professional as soon as possible in order to substantiate and record the injuries suffered as a result of the accident, as you may wish to pursue a compensation claim for personal injury.
If you have sustained an accident injury then you will need to seek legal advice from a reputable personal injury solicitor who will be able to handle your claim for compensation.
Once you have notified the relevant authorities your insurance company and your solicitors will be able to handle the claim process on your behalf, from start to finish, and will do a better job for you if you have provided them with all the information they need.