What to do if you are involved in a road traffic accident
Catherine Hyde of Coodes Solicitors’ Personal Injury team explains what to do if you are involved in a road traffic accident.
Being in a road traffic accident is emotionally stressful and can cause long-lasting injuries. It can be difficult to think straight when you have been in an accident, but failing to do certain things can result in you not being able to pursue a claim. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with what you should do if you are unfortunate enough to be in an accident.
What immediate action should I take if I am involved in a road traffic accident?
If someone is injured, contact the emergency services immediately.
After any road traffic accident, exchange details with the other driver, including your name, address, vehicle details (including registration number) and insurance details (including policy number). If the other party does not have their insurance details to hand ask them for a telephone number to contact them later for this information.
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Before the vehicles have been moved, take some photographs on your mobile phone. These photos should ideally show their resting positions, the damage to both vehicles and also any relevant road signs or road markings showing the road layout at or leading up to the accident scene.
It is useful to keep a notepad and pen in the car, together with details of your insurance policy. Lots of insurers provide cards for this purpose.
What should I do when I return home after a road traffic accident?
Make some notes or a short statement of how the accident occurred while events are fresh in your mind. If you have been injured, keep a diary charting the progress of your recovery.
If you incur any expenses as a result of the accident be sure to keep receipts or bank statements.
If you have comprehensive insurance, instructing your insurers is generally the quickest way of dealing with your own damage. You will have to pay your excess, which can generally be included in your claim against the other driver. If the other driver is ultimately found to be at fault then you should be able recover your excess, and your claims history should be adjusted with any no claims discount reinstated.
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What if I am are involved a road traffic accident with an untraced driver?
In addition to doing everything above, if you are involved in a road traffic accident with another driver who leaves the scene it is imperative that you report the accident to the Police.
The Motor Insurers’ Bureau operates a slush fund, which is paid for from all our motor insurance premiums, to compensate the victims of uninsured and untraced drivers. They will consider claims against untraced drivers, however they will only become involved where there is a Police log or report of the incident. This means that if the Police are not involved you will be unable to pursue a claim.
As there is no insurer to pursue, any no claims discount may be lost if vehicle damage is pursued against your own policy. This is at the discretion of your insurer.
What should I do if am hit by a European driver?
If you are hit by a European driver when you are driving in the UK, the advice is the same. However, in addition you should be aware that lorry trailers and other towed vehicles such as caravans, may have a different registration number to that of the towing cab or car. You should therefore take care to obtain the registration plate of both the car or cab and any additional vehicle being towed by it.
It is important to obtain insurance details and also a ‘green card’ number if possible. These details can be used to identify claims handling agents in the UK to act on behalf of the European insurer. It should be noted that the time frames allowed by UK protocols are doubled in the case of European drivers to allow for obtaining instructions from overseas. The claims process can therefore take longer than the average claim.
Many European drivers will carry an agreed statement of facts form. In essence, this is an accident report form that both parties may contribute to. Each country will have their own version, for example the French form is called a ‘Constat Amicable’ form. This form may be produced during the claims process by the claims handling agents for the European insurer. It is therefore very important that, as far as is possible, you work with the European driver to complete the form, and do not sign anything you don’t agree with or don’t understand.
If you have been injured in a road traffic accident and would like advice, please contact Catherine Hyde in the Personal Injury team at Coodes Solicitors on 01326 318900 or firstname.lastname@example.org