Failing to Stop and Report
following a Road Traffic Accident

If you are involved in a road traffic accident, you have certain legal obligations and there is also some sensible action you can take which may be of assistance at a later date.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are my legal obligations?

If damage has been caused to another person or another person's property, you must stop and provide your full details to the injured party/the owner of the damaged property. You must supply your name and address and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle you were using, if it is not your vehicle. In the case of a person suffering injury you also have an obligation to report the matter to the Police "as soon as reasonably practicable" but in any event, within 24 hours.

I was involved in an accident but did not stop or provide any details, what offences have I committed?

You could be prosecuted for failing to stop and failing to report, regardless of whether you are to blame for the accident. If the accident is wholly or partially your fault, you could also be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention or dangerous driving.

What are the potential penalties for failing to stop and failing to report?

Each offence can result in an instant driving ban, but in normal circumstances, you should expect a means tested fine up to £2,500 and between 5 and 10 penalty points. In extremely serious cases, punishment can include community service, a curfew order or a prison sentence.

Do I have to provide my insurance details?

You do not have to immediately exchange insurance details, but it is advisable to do so; you do however have to disclose your insurance information to the Police who will also wish to see an MOT certificate, if applicable. Failing to comply with the above is an offence for which you can be fined and your licence endorsed.

Do I have to report the accident to my insurers?

Your obligation to report the matter to your insurance company is contractual between you and your insurers. However, if you choose not to report the matter promptly, your insurers can refuse to indemnify you in relation to any claim that you wish to make or is made against you, particularly if they believe their position has been prejudiced.

What if I clipped a stationary car, I got out and checked that there was no damage?

If no damage has been caused, you have no obligation to provide details. However, even where the slightest amount of damage has occurred, you must stop and provide details.

What if no injuries were sustained, do I need to report the incident to the Police?

No. If the incident is "damage only" you only have to provide details to the owner of the damaged items, you do not need to refer the matter to the Police.

I was genuinely unaware of being involved in an incident, but it seems as if I may have caused very slight damage to another vehicle. Can I still be prosecuted?

Yes. However, if you can satisfy the Court that you were genuinely unaware of an incident, or any damage occurring, you have a potential defence and should not be convicted for failing to stop and failing to report if it is accepted that you honestly were unaware of the incident.

What can I do at the scene if I am involved in an accident?

In addition to complying with the above, it is always sensible to obtain any witness information immediately. Even if you can trace a witness subsequently, their credibility maybe questioned if you did not establish their identity at the scene, and further, any delay in obtaining information from them may cloud their recollection.

Many drivers carry a "disposable camera" in their glove box so that they can take photographs at the scene. Nowadays, quality photographs can also be taken on mobile phones but surprisingly, many drivers forget to use this facility. Alternatively, make a rough sketch of the accident circumstances. Whilst you will not be expected to record accurate measurements, there are various ways in which you can prove the position of a vehicle. For example, note the position of the vehicle in relation to non variables such as lampposts, manhole covers, drains etc.

Make a note of any CCTV cameras that cover the area. Although they may be there for completely different reasons to include congestion charging, traffic monitoring, security etc, it is possible they have recorded accurate evidence that can be used to support your case. Also make a note of any tyre marks, debris or other fluid spills that are related to the accident.

It is becoming increasingly unusual for the Police to attend an accident scene unless there is serious injury. Consequently, there is a greater obligation upon the motorist to obtain appropriate information, particularly concerning the other driver. Ask for proof of identity at the scene and take full details of their vehicle to include make, model, colour and registration number. Make a clear note of the areas of damage to all vehicles. Be as precise as possible, i.e. broken nearside headlamp, dent to nearside wing but no damage to nearside door will be far more useful than "smashed up front".

Sadly, bogus claims are on the increase. Make sure you establish the names and addresses of any passengers, whether they appear to be injured or not. In our experience, many clients are telling us that claims are being made by "phantom passengers" who were never at the scene. If possible, get the other driver to sign the document upon which you have noted all this information.

If the other driver has accepted responsibility at the scene, ask him to sign a note to that affect. That said, if you feel that you were entirely responsible for the accident, NEVER make such a concession, simply indicate that is for the insurers to establish who was to blame.

Are there further suggestions if injuries have been sustained?

If the other party has sustained an injury, always offer to call for an ambulance and if that proposal is rejected, advise your insurers accordingly. If you sustain an injury, and this is immediately apparent, make sure that the other driver is aware of this. If an ambulance is called, you will subsequently receive an "emergency treatment fee", which is effectively the bill for the ambulance crew attending the scene. Pass this bill to your insurers. They have a legal obligation to pay it without prejudice to your no–claims bonus.