If you are involved in a car accident..
ABOVE ALL ELSE, WEAR YOUR SEATBELT! THIS OBVIOUSLY APPLIES WELL BEFORE AN ACCIDENT HAPPENS, BUT IT’S THE MOST CRUCIAL STEP EVERY TIME YOU DRIVE. STATISTICALLY, YOU’LL BE 58% LESS LIKELY TO BE INJURED OR KILLED IF YOU’RE WEARING YOURS. ASK ALL PASSENGERS TO WEAR A SEAT BELT! IN CASE OF A CAR ACCIDENT THEY MIGHT BE THROWN ALL OVER THE CAR INJURING THEMSELVES AND EVERYONE IN THE CAR.
WHEN YOU ARE CALM AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT, YOU CAN THINK CLEARLY WHICH ALLOWS YOU TO MAKE EMPOWERED CHOICES ABOUT HOW YOU REACT TO THINGS. WHEN YOU ARE THINKING CLEARLY, YOU MAKE MUCH BETTER DECISIONS THAN WHEN YOU ARE STRESSED OR OFF BALANCE.
FIRST THING: NOTE INVOLVED PARTY CAR REGISTRATION NUMBER!
Many drivers are on the road illegally (examples below). Most of them will not stop if they’ve caused an accident.
As a result, insurance companies may refuse to pay in case of ‘hit and run’ if you don’t provide the registration and colour/make of the car involved.
(Consider installing a full HD dashboard camera. And if you have one, do not inform the other party until the police arrive).
IF SAFE TO DO SO, leave your vehicle where it is, turn the engine off and turn your hazard lights on. If your car is in danger of being hit by another car (on the motorway/blind spot), slowly drive to a safer place, such as the side of the road or a well-lit spot.
If anyone has been injured in the car accident you should call an ambulance as soon as possible. Assess the degree of impact and determine whether you are injured. If you think you’re hurt in any way, stay in your car and try to relax. Be honest if anyone asks how you are. In some cases people do not feel they are injured because of adrenalin. If you see someone in shock, keep an eye on them and ask them to sit down and relax as pain can appear after some time.
Provide medical help to others ONLY if you are trained to do so.
Remember phone numbers:
Ambulance – 101
Emergency services – 999 / 911 / 112
Call the Police if due to a car accident the road is blocked.
START RECORDING EVERYTHING ON CAMERA.
LOOK AROUND FOR WITNESSES
Most of the drivers around will drive away seconds after they’ve witnessed an accident— use these seconds! Stop them and get their details or at least remember their registration numbers so police can trace them. Get as many witnesses as you can! It is important to obtain evidence from independent witnesses about what happened at an accident as this can prove your innocence and ultimately save you from big troubles/losses.
DO NOT APOLOGISE OR ADMIT FAULT!
Don’t say the accident was your fault, even if you believe it was.
DON’T TALK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED until you know precisely what happened.
Be tactful and polite, even if you’re angry.
(WHATEVER YOU SAY MAY BE USED AGAINST YOU!)
Evaluate the damage to your vehicle. When examining the accident scene, NEVER walk directly between the two cars. If one is hit again, you could become trapped between the two vehicles.
TAKE A PICTURE OF:
* the driver (make sure he admits he was driving).
* the position of your car on the road immediately after the collision, including any skid marks. Try to include a point of reference– tree, sign, manhole cover, etc.. If you moved your vehicle to a safer place, take a picture of the collision point. If you don’t have a camera, draw a diagram and ask the driver and witness/passengers to countersign.
* damaged objects (i.e. road signs/guards/road).
* all involved vehicles.
* all four sides of the vehicles.
* registration plates and VIN numbers.
* the surroundings (trees, bushes, shrubs, weather).
* the roads signs, traffic control devices, road construction, and temporary lane set-ups.
* witnesses (and their number plates).
* claimants (if they are up and moving around –do not take pictures of injured people or blood stains).
* Take pictures from the cab of the vehicle (provides a driver’s perspective).
It is probably a good idea to take a set of pictures with the flash on and one with it off, regular and close-up shots.
WAS A DRIVER DRIVING ILLEGALLY?
A driver who is driving illegally and shouldn’t be on the road is not in a strong position to take legal action against anyone else, even if another other person caused the accident.
Examples of driving illegally include driving:
• alone on a provisional licence
• without a driving licence, tax or insurance
• while disqualified from driving
• a car insured in someone else’s name
• a stolen vehicle
• without an MOT certificate
• while drunk or under the influence of drugs
• an unsafe vehicle (i.e. tinted windows/bald tires/bad lights)
If in doubt, call the police. They will be able to check driver identity/insurance/tax/MOT over the phone.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE
• Scene: date, time, location, weather conditions, traffic conditions, road markings/signs/signals plus anything unusual you notice about the road quality or lighting.
• Vehicles: make, model, registration number, colour, condition, estimated speed, direction, use of lights/indicators/sounds.
• People: contact details, description/distinguishing features of driver(s), number and contact details of passengers, pedestrians/other witnesses(name/address/phone/email/registration number), details of any police officers involved.
• Damage: description of the damage to vehicles/objects/property and any injuries to people involved.
FAILING TO STOP AND FAILING TO REPORT
If you don’t comply with these obligations you risk committing two offences: failing to stop and failing to report, and you can be guilty of either or both. The penalty for each includes a maximum fine of £5,000 and five to ten penalty points. You can be disqualified from driving for either offence and likely will be if both offences are committed on the same occasion. Failing to stop or report an accident can carry a maximum of six months’ imprisonment.
TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS RELATED TO:
An employee who has a traffic accident whilst travelling to or from work should bear in mind the following points:
• If the vehicle is insured by the employer, the employee will be covered by the employer’s vehicle insurance whether or not they were responsible for the accident
• If the employee is an injured pedestrian or cyclist, the employer will normally be liable in the same way as for any industrial injury, unless the employee clearly acted negligently
• If the employee is a trade union member and is injured, they can get free legal help from the trade union
• They may be able to claim benefits under the industrial injuries scheme
If you’re involved in an accident involving a bicycle, be aware that cyclists do not have to be insured for damage to the bicycle, any other vehicle or for personal injury. However, the cyclist may be covered under another insurance policy, for example, their home contents policy.
Let’s say the accident happened on the way to or from work, or whilst at work, the person who had the accident may be covered by their employer’s insurance or may be able to obtain advice and assistance from a trade union.
If the cyclist has inadequate insurance it will probably be easier to claim on your own insurance and let the insurance company take action against anyone who is liable.
The cyclist could be sued in court for compensation if none of above is possible.
Learner drivers who are driving legally are in exactly the same position as any other driver in relation to a traffic accident. The supervisor of a learner driver must do all that is reasonable to prevent the driver from driving in a way likely to cause danger to others. It is the duty of the driver to report an accident and the liability and responsibility of the supervisor depends on the particular circumstances.
The police have the power to require the supervisor of a learner driver to produce their licence and certificate of insurance.
If an accident is caused by a child, it can be difficult to prove that the child’s behaviour has been negligent. Even if negligence by the child can be proved, it may not be worth pursuing any legal action as the child is unlikely to have any money. However, a judgement can be enforced for six years following the date of the judgement, during which period the child may become able to pay.
If the child was accompanied by a responsible adult at the time of the accident, it may be possible to sue the adult, if it can be shown that the adult acted negligently by failing to supervise the child properly.
Even if the child was not accompanied by an adult, it may be possible to sue an adult for failing to supervise the child adequately at the time of the accident.
STATIONARY OR FIXED OBJECTS
If you hit a stationary object, either on the road itself or alongside the road, you should consider the following:
• Was the object adequately marked or lit to enable you to see it clearly and in time to avoid it, for example, an unlit car, skip or roadworks. If not, it will be necessary to find out who was responsible for failing to do so.
For example, if the object was a parked car, the responsible person is the owner. If the object was roadworks, then whoever is carrying out the roadworks is responsible, for example, the local authority, a gas, water or electricity company, or contractors doing the work on their behalf.
• Had the object been left on the road either unlawfully or in an unsafe way, for example, a car parked on a blind corner. If so, the owner of the object or vehicle may be liable.
• Have there been any similar accidents caused by the object? If so, this is evidence that the object had contributed to the accident.
THE CONDITION OF THE ROAD SURFACE
An accident may be caused by the condition of the road surface, for example, by pot holes, ice, mud or leaves. Adequate warning may not have been given of a problem with the road surface, for example:
• The local authority (Department of Regional Development, Transport NI in Northern Ireland) may have failed to respond reasonably to a problem with the road surface. If so, they may be liable for any accident caused;
• Individuals or firms, for example, farmers or contractors, may have left mud or grease on the road surface for an unreasonable period of time without adequate warnings. If so, they may be liable for any accident caused;
• A contractor who has failed to reinstate the road surface properly after carrying out works.
If your car is damaged because of the condition of the road surface, you may have a claim for compensation against the local authority responsible for maintaining the road.
However, you will need to show that the road was not properly inspected and repaired. You should contact the local authority as soon as possible with evidence of the:
• state of the road
• damage done to your car
• costs of repairing your car
You can also send a photograph of the road to support your claim. If damage has been caused by a pothole, try to send measurements of the width and depth of the hole.
If the local authority claims they have properly maintained and inspected the road, you may still have grounds for a claim if the authority has not followed the national code of practice for highway maintenance.
You can find the code at www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org.
The website www.potholes.co.uk contains a list of authorities responsible for maintaining roads and a step-by-step guide of how to report a claim for compensation.
Emergency vehicles have no special exemption from liability for accidents that they are involved in or cause. The same rules apply as with any other accident. But don’t disrespect Emergency vehicles! (they may be rushing to help someone you know..)
DRIVERS FROM ABROAD
If a car accident happens in the UK and the driver is from abroad, their obligations are the same as if the driver came from the UK.
It may be difficult to get compensation for any damage or injuries. You could try contacting the Motor Insurers Bureau. They can obtain details of the driver and their insurance company if the vehicle’s registration number can be provided and the driver comes from a country participating in the green card scheme.
If the driver was not insured, or the insurance company does not have an agent in the United Kingdom, the Motor Insurers Bureau will take up the case. If the insurance company does have an agent in the UK, you will be advised to contact them.
The contact details of the Motor Insurers Bureau are:
SEEMS LIKE A LOT TO REMEMBER DOESN’T IT?
THEREFORE IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO STAY CALM! THIS EXTRA KNOWLEDGE AND THE EXTRA FIVE MINUTES YOU SPENT GATHERING ALL THE FACTS AT THE ACCIDENT SCENE MAY BE THAT “STRAW THAT BREAKS THE CAMEL’S BACK” IN CASE OF A CAR ACCIDENT LIABILITY DISPUTE.
FINALLY, YOU CAN CALL US FOR ADVICE. IF YOU’RE NOT FAR, WE MAY BE ABLE TO COME AND HELP YOU ON THE SPOT.
IF YOUR VEHICLE ISN’T DRIVABLE AS A RESULT OF A CAR ACCIDENT, CALL US 24/7 FOR TOWING/RECOVERY SERVICE.