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What to do if you're involved in a car accident

Being involved in a car accident is never going to be a pleasant experience; keeping your car well maintained can help you to avoid some breakdowns and accidents, as does driving sensibly and following the Highway Code. But even the most responsible drivers could find themselves in an accident at some point, which is why knowing what to do is so important.

The first step is making sure you have car insurance. Not only is it a legal requirement if you want to drive on UK roads, but getting the right insurance will put your mind at ease – for example, many insurers (including Tesco Bank) will offer you a small courtesy car while yours is being repaired. This is an important factor to consider if using a car is an essential part of your daily life. Likewise, the type of coverage you have is also worth thinking about – remember, unless your insurance is fully comprehensive, you will have to foot the repair bill yourself, so consider what you’d be able to afford when choosing your premium.

If you are involved in a car accident, however, it is essential to know what steps to take to make sure you stay safe and on the right side of the law:

  • Stop. It is an offence to leave the scene of an accident, regardless of whether or not it was your fault. This applies if a person, pet or livestock is injured, or if private property, another vehicle or street furniture is damaged. You must wait near to your vehicle for a reasonable period of time.
  • If you do not give your name and address at the scene, then you must go to the police station and report the accident within 24 hours.
  • Make sure you get the other driver's name and contact details, car insurance details and licence plate number. You must give your details (name, address, vehicle registration number) to anyone 'with reasonable grounds for requiring them', such as the other driver or the police.
  • Remember to report the accident to your car insurance provider as soon as possible.
  • Get the contact details of any witnesses including their name, address, phone number and email address so that you can contact them later, in case you need written confirmation of what happened.
  • Take pictures of the accident scene and any injuries caused by the accident, however slight they might be.
  • If the police attended the scene of the accident, ask for their report and incident number. Complete your own detailed description, including any pictures you took at the scene of the accident.
  • Keep track of all other expenses related to the accident: expenses of medication and visits: dates, times and your reasons for visiting a doctor.
  • If you have to take time off work as a result of the accident be sure to make a note of it. Likewise any time you've had to take off school or university if you're a student.
  • And lastly, if you've had to take time off from work, ask your employer for written confirmation of any income lost as a result of the accident.