The Law imposes a number of obligations on a driver involved in or accused of being involved in an accident.
If the accident was someone else’s fault, you may also be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries. See our Personal Injuries page for more information.
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Any driver involved in an accident on a “road or other public place” is required to stop if:
- Personal injury is caused to someone other than the driver
- Damage is caused to a vehicle [except the driver's vehicle or trailer]
- Damage or injury is caused to an animal [except an animal in the driver's vehicle or trailer]
- Damage is caused to any property at the side of the road
(s170(1) and (2) Road Traffic Act 1988)
The obligations to “stop” and “report” only apply if the driver is aware an accident has occurred. However if there is a dispute about the driver’s awareness of the accident he has to prove the absence of knowledge. The prosecution do not have to prove that the driver knew or ought to have known about the accident once damage or injury has been proved.
The driver is required to stop and remain at the scene for a sufficient period to allow a person having reasonable grounds for doing so to ask for the driver’s name and address. He does not have to wait indefinitely. However the driver must stop even if the accident takes place in the middle of nowhere and there is no one about.
Any driver involved in an accident as described above must also “if required to do so by any other person having reasonable grounds for so requiring, give his name and address and also the name and address of the owner and the identification marks of the vehicle”.
If for any reason the driver does not give his name and address he must report the accident at a police station or to a police officer as soon as is reasonably practicable and, in any case, within 24 hours.
(s.170(2) and (3) of the 1988 Act)
The law does not require a driver to make enquiries to see if there is anyone in the locality who might be entitled to ask for his details.
It is important to note that if the accident has to be reported this should be done “as soon as is reasonably practicable”. A driver is not entitled to wait for 24 hours before making a report if this could have been done sooner. Each case will depend on its facts.
- If a driver supplies his name and address at the scene he is not required to report to the police unless there has been personal injury and the relevant insurance certificate has not been produced [see below]
- If a driver refuses to supply his name and address at the scene he commits an offence even if he subsequently reports the accident to the police
If an accident occurs on a “road or other public place” involving personal injury to another person and the driver does not produce his certificate of insurance at the time to the police or to some other person who has on reasonable grounds requiring its production the driver must as soon as is reasonably practicable and in any event within 24 hours report the accident to the police and produce his insurance certificate within 7 days to a police station nominated by him when the accident was reported.
(s.170(5),(6) and (7) of the 1988 Act)