What You Should Do After a Car Accident

A friend of mine who managed a coffee shop was called out to the shop's car park recently by an anxious customer. A car had rolled backwards into another one and punched a sizable dent in its front wing.

The owner of the 'victim', if you could use that term to describe a car, asked my friend to take some photos of the damage. He agreed. Unfortunately the pictures didn't really do much. It was just about possible to tell that the first car, the one that had rolled from its parking space, was a white Fiat Tipo.

The other car was represented by an unidentifiable piece of silver bodywork at the bottom right hand corner of the photo. It was a Volvo S60, as it turned out, but the photos didn't really paint the picture of the incident properly, and were therefore slightly useless.

So with this in mind, let us explore some dos and don'ts in the event that you ever have a car accident.

Dos and Don'ts following an accident: For a start, you should make sure you stop. Leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offence and could result in you being slapped with either a fine of GBP5,000 (maximum) or between five and ten penalty points.

- Assess the damage to any vehicles involved in the accident
- See if anyone, or any animal, has been injured
- Exchange details with witnesses and, of course, with the other motorist(s) involved. Names, addresses, telephone numbers, the name of your insurance provider, the make, model, colour and registration number of the vehicles involved are all essential too. The more information, the better the chances of getting matters resolved quickly!

Take detailed photos from various angles, close-up and from a distance, to paint a better picture for insurance companies and the police as to what happened.

If you don't have a camera handy, you could ask a witness or passer-by for theirs or you could make a detailed note of the location of the crash, the time at which it occurred, and any other important information such as nearby objects etc.

Ensure that you personally attend a police station within 24 hours of the crash. The police do not usually need called to the accident scene unless there has been a significant injury or damage caused. Phoning the station will not suffice. Failure to report an accident is also a criminal offence, which attracts similar penalties as leaving the scene of an accident.

Tell your insurance company about your accident as soon as possible, even if you don't believe you were at fault.

Consider making a personal injury claim if you or any of your passengers have been injured. You will only be able to claim compensation if the accident was not your fault. For this reason it is important that you do not admit any liability for the accident. You can choose your own solicitors for this: you don't necessarily have to use the company or the lawyers that your insurers recommend.

Additionally, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

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