Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Drivers involved in road accidents are legally required to stop at the scene, arrange medical assistance if needed, provide their personal and insurance details and await police attendance if necessary. For some minor accidents, it may not be necessary for the police to be called, but the driver is required to stop and make a reasonable effort to report any damage and ensure the safety of others. In more serious accidents, failure to stop may mean that injured parties are not assisted, the surrounding environment becomes unsafe, or insurance details are not shared, and so a claim becomes more difficult.
For this reason, drivers who leave the scene of an accident can be liable for serious penalties. The following article explains the legal responsibilities of road users and the actions that should be taken following an accident.
How Drivers Should Respond to an Accident
When a driver is involved in an accident, whether they believe that they were at fault or not, they should stop at the scene and take the following course of action:
- Ensure that all other drivers, passengers and pedestrians are safe. For any injured party, medical assistance should be arranged, and if necessary first aid should be administered.
- If anybody is injured or other road users are at risk, the police should be called. The police will record the accident and attend the scene to maximise the safety, manage the use of the road, secure evidence and help to clear the scene.
- Exchange personal and insurance details with all other involved parties. This information will be crucial at a later date, both from the point of view of witness statements and also for insurance claims.
- Drivers involved in an accident should inform their insurance company as soon as possible in order to ensure that the incident is logged and that the insurer's processes are met.
By following the above actions, drivers will put themselves in a stronger position to ensure a swift insurance claim and reliable evidence should a court case be required to determine liability.
Accidents with an Unattended Vehicle
Drivers who collide with an unattended vehicle, often one which is parked in a public area, or with a stationery item such as a letterbox or railing are required to identify the owner. This means that the driver is legally required to stop safely at the scene, attempt to locate the owner of the car or property that they have collided with and report the accident.
This can be done by enquiring in the nearby area, leaving a note to explain the incident and to provide contact and insurance details, taking down the registration plate of the vehicle or reporting the accident to the local authority. It is wise for the driver to contact the local police to explain what has happened to ensure that they record the incident and the driver's admission.
It is important to remember that failing to stop at the scene of an accident with an unattended car or piece of infrastructure is an offence and the penalties can be severe.
Potential Penalties for Failing to Stop at the Scene of an Accident
Those who are found guilty of failing to stop at the scene of an accident are liable for criminal penalties, which can include the following:
- Between 5 and 10 penalty points on their license
- A fine of up to £5,000
- Imprisonment for a maximum term of 6 months
- Disqualification for a set period if the court deems this necessary
The seriousness of the case and the results of the failure to stop will be taken into consideration by a court when determining an appropriate punishment.
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