Accidents occur completely unexpectedly, and when they do, everything seems to happen so quickly. It’s common to go into shock, panic, or just have a complete mind-blank about what you should do next.
We’ve put together this step-by-step guide to advise you about what you should do after a car accident. You could print out this page, or note down key actions, and keep it in your vehicle so that you’ll have these important steps to hand if you ever need them.
Step 1: Stop
The first things you should do when you’re involved in a car accident is stop and turn off your engine; you’re actually committing an offence if you don’t. Ensure you put your hazard lights on, and use your hazard triangle if necessary so that other road users are aware that there has been an incident.
Step 2: Check for injuries
Once you’ve stopped your vehicle, check yourself and any passengers in the car with you for injuries, and then ensure that no one in the other vehicle is injured. If it was only a minor accident and there are no injuries, make a note of this in case the other party claims there was after the event.
Step 3: Call 999 (if necessary)
It won’t always be necessary to call 999, but if there are serious injuries that require immediate medical assistance, you will need to call an ambulance and the police. You should also call the police if:
- The other driver leaves the scene without giving their details
- You suspect the other driver is uninsured
- You think alcohol or drugs are involved
- You suspect the collision was deliberate
- The accident is causing a road block
Even if the accident was only minor, it is a legal requirement to inform the police within 24hrs or you can be given a monetary penalty, receive points on your license, or even face a driving disqualification.
Step 4: Stay calm
Emotions can run high after an accident, but it’s important that you try to remain calm. Don’t allow yourself to become angry or involve yourself in a confrontation with the other driver. It’s also important that do not accept any liability or apologise for the accident before you know for sure what has happened. This way, you are protected if it turns out that you were not at fault, and the other party cannot use your words against you.
Step 5: Exchange details
The next thing you should do is exchange details with the other driver. You should provide each other with your:
- Contact details
- Insurance details
You should also attain the details of everyone involved if the accident caused injury, and ask any witnesses on the scene for their personal information should you need to call on them to support your claim.
Step 6: Record the scene
Once details have been exchanged, you need to turn your attention to the scene of the accident. You should record:
- The make, model, colour and registration number of the other vehicle
- The date and time that the accident occurred
- Any damage caused to either vehicle
- Any injuries that resulted
- The road or street on which the accident happened
- The current weather conditions
- The road positions of the cars post-collision
It’s a good idea to take as many pictures of the scene as you can and take close up shots of any damage.
Step 7: Call your breakdown provider (if required) and your insurance company
If the accident has left your vehicle undriveable, you will need to arrange for it to be removed from the scene. If you purchased your vehicle from Inchcape, you will be eligible for our 24/7 complimentary Accident Aftercare Service. We can arrange for your vehicle to be recovered and complete any repairs required to return it to its previous condition.
In addition, you should call your car insurance company as soon as possible after your car accident. They will advise you on how to proceed with a claim, should you wish to do so. Even if you don’t want to make a claim, whether it be because you can to cover the cost of damages yourself, or that you don’t want to affect you no-claims bonus, you should still inform your insurer about the accident in case the other driver decides to submit a claim.