Traffic accidents can happen at any time, but do you know what the law requires you to do if you are involved in an accident?

No matter how carefully you drive, the statistics show that at some time nearly every driver will be involved in an RTA, however minor.

I am often asked this question, so here is a definitive guide for all drivers.

If one or more of the following occurs:

  • anyone, other than the driver, is injured;
  • another vehicle or any other property is damaged;
  • an animal has been killed/injured, except in the driver’s vehicle (an ‘animal’ means ‘any horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog’).

The driver must:

  • stop and remain at the scene for a reasonable period;
  • give registration number, name and address, and that of the vehicle owner (if different), to anyone with reasonable grounds for asking;
  • if details are not exchanged at the scene, you must report the accident in person at a police station or to a PC as soon as you can, and in any case within 24 hours.

Where injury is caused to another, then in addition you must also produce your insurance certificate to anyone at the scene has reasonable grounds to see it. If not, you must report the accident in person at a police station or to a PC as soon as you can, and in any case within 24 hours.

A failure to comply with these obligations can mean two offences are being committed: failing to stop and failing to report. You can be guilty of either or both. The penalties are an unlimited fine and five to ten points. The Court can disqualify you from driving and often does when both driving offences are committed together. They also carry a maximum of six months’ imprisonment.

Even if there is no personal injury, if someone holds you responsible for the accident, they have the right to request your insurance details. This request can be made later; it does not necessarily have to be at the time of the accident. A failure to provide that information without a reasonable excuse is also an offence.

Contrary to popular belief, provided you comply with the requirements to stop, exchange information and in injury cases to produce your insurance, there is no automatic obligation to report an accident to the Police. Accordingly it is wise to keep a copy of the insurance certificate in the vehicle.

You should ensure that you know your obligations. A simple way to do this is to copy this article, and keep a copy in your vehicle.

For further help or advice, please contact Jeremy Scott Partner at Lupton Fawcett 24/7 on 07971 520407 or

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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