What To Do After A Car Accident

Whether you’re a new driver or have never been involved in a car crash before, knowing what to do after an accident is crucial. Within this article, we’ll guide you through all the essential steps to ensure you’re properly covered in the event of a car accident.

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What To Do In A Car Accident
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Experiencing a car accident can be a distressing and overwhelming event. However, amid the chaos, staying calm and taking the necessary steps to ensure your safety and protect your interests is crucial.

To help you remain calm and take these necessary steps, we have created a comprehensive guide on what to do after a car accident. From immediate actions at the scene to handling insurance claims, below is everything you need to know.

What To Do In A Car Accident

1. Stop Somewhere Safe

No matter how minor the car accident you’ve been involved in is, you must stop and exchange details with the third party. If you don’t stop after a car accident, you can face a fine of up to £5,000, 5 to 10 penalty points and even a prison sentence. Therefore, we can’t stress enough how important it is to stop but you should do so somewhere safe with your hazard lights turned on. For example, if you have a crash in the third lane of a motorway, pull over to the hard shoulder if possible and avoid stopping in any of the live lanes of the motorway.

If the third party didn’t stop after the accident, ring the police immediately and provide them with the car’s registration, make and model, colour and where the accident took place.

2. Check For Injuries

After safely parking your car, the next step is to check for injuries to you, any passengers and the third party. If there are injuries or the road is blocked, call the police and an ambulance as soon as you can.

What To Do After A Car Accident

3. Don’t Admit Guilt At The Scene

Unless you are 100% sure that you were at fault, it’s advised that you avoid accepting blame for the incident. Even saying a simple “sorry” could go against you if you were to make a claim.

Therefore, try to remain calm and avoid “pointing the finger” as this can result in an argument at the side of the road. We always recommend letting the insurance companies (and police if it’s a major accident) decide who is liable.

4. Exchange Details

By far the most important step after a car accident is to exchange details with the third party. With regards to what details you need to exchange, they include:

  • Name of the driver
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Car registration number
  • Insurance details
  • Car owner’s name and registered keeper’s name (ask for both names as it may be a company car)

It’s important to note that if you’ve hit a stationary vehicle, you’ll want to provide the above details on paper and leave it under the car’s windscreen wiper blades.

Other details that you’ll want to take are the name and contact details of any witnesses of the incident. This is because the witness may be the key to deciding who was at fault and it may be difficult to contact them without any details.

5. Take Notes & Lots of Photos

If you need to make a claim, the more evidence you have, the easier it’ll be and it can also make all the difference in terms of who is liable for the accident. In terms of the evidence, we recommend the following:

  • Time and date of the crash
  • Vehicle details (registration number, colour, make and model)
  • Any injuries to the driver and passengers
  • Witness details
  • Driving conditions
  • Description of what happened
  • Photos or videos of damage to both cars
  • Photos or videos of the junction/lane or area (i.e. does a lane merge?)

We highly recommend taking as many photos and videos as you can because it backs up your insurance claim and it also helps you remember certain aspects of the incident when it comes to making a claim.

6. Inform Your Insurance Provider

After taking a breather and getting yourself home or to your place of work, you’ll want to inform your insurance provider. Regardless of who was to blame, you need to file a claim within 24 hours, which is stated in most insurance providers’ terms and conditions. When speaking to your insurance company, you’ll need your policy number and the third party’s details that you would’ve collected when exchanging details at the scene of the incident.

If you have a dash cam installed (we have a great list of the best dash cams if you are yet to install one), you’ll also want to inform your provider. This is because they will provide you with a website to upload the footage as evidence.

It’s also worth pointing out that if you suspect that the third party committed a driving offence, is drunk or deliberately caused the crash, you should inform the police immediately.

What Happens After A Claim?

As long as the liability of the accident has been confirmed, your insurance provider’s claims team will handle everything else. They will inform you when and where to take your car to be repaired as well as the progress of the claim.

Depending on your level of cover (if it was your fault), you may or may not be given a courtesy car after an accident. However, if it wasn’t your fault, you will always be given the option of a courtesy car and this will be given to you the same day as your car goes in for repair. You’ll then keep the courtesy car until your car is fully repaired.

Once you get your car back, you’ll want to assess the repairs and ensure you are happy with it. For example, if it has been painted, you’ll want to ensure that the colour matches and new body panels are aligned properly.

What If The Damage Is Minor?

Even if you were involved in a minor car accident, the steps above are still required. Although you wouldn’t have to call the police (unless someone is injured, details weren’t exchanged or driving offences were made), you should inform your insurance provider within 24 hours.

Minor car accidents can be anything from a small bump in a shop car park to knocking off your wing mirror in a narrow country lane. Therefore, you may be wondering if you could handle the cost of repairs without going through your insurance. However, what many people forget is that although some damage make look minor, it can actually be very costly to repair

For example, if your car was bumped into on the rear quarter, the cost to respray the car at the rear as well as the parts and labour can certainly add up.

what to do after a minor car accident

How Long After An Accident Can You Claim Damage?

Ideally, you’ll want to get the ball rolling as soon as possible to ensure the claim goes through without issues. However, with regards to personal injuries, as stated in Section 11 of the Limitation Act 1980 (LA 1980), you can legally claim up to three years after the date of the accident or the date you discovered injuries as a result of the accident.

How Long Does It Take To Repair A Car After An Accident?

The length of time it takes to repair a car after an accident varies depending on the type of damage that has occurred as well as the car that’s damaged. For example, most bodywork repairs should take no longer than 5 to 7 working days whereas repairs that rely on the availability of parts required to fix the car may take up to 10 to 14 working days.

As well as the required work for the repair, the type of car that’s damaged will also affect the amount of time the repair can take. This is because exotic, classic and limited-run cars will have parts that aren’t readily available and they may also need to be repaired at a specialist garage.

Would A Claim Ever Go To Court?

Although the majority of car accidents won’t go to court, some complex cases do when there are disputes between the parties involved or the insurance companies are unable to reach a fair settlement. For example, some of the reasons why car accidents go to court can include the following:

  • Liability disputes where a court would allocate responsibility
  • Severe injuries that result in significantly higher compensation
  • Complex circumstances where multiple vehicles were involved or factors such as the road conditions, a car with no MOT or defects were found
  • Disputes between the two insurance companies
  • Non-cooperatives parties

It’s quite rare that a car accident ends up in court and for minor accidents where either you or the third party claim liability, it would never normally go to court.

What Happens If Someone Else Is Driving My Car?

If someone else such as a named driver gets into an accident whilst driving your car and is at fault, the main driver/policyholder will need to claim on their policy. This means that the claim will be against your policy and you’ll lose your no-claims bonus. This is something you should always be wary of when putting other drivers on your policy.

A worse scenario would be if the driver of your car only has third-party cover because this means that they are insured but your car isn’t. Therefore, any damage to your car will not be covered and you’ll need to pay for repairs.


Experiencing a car accident is undoubtedly a challenging situation but knowing what to do can help you navigate the aftermath with greater confidence. Regardless of fault, always remain calm and take notes and photos at the scene because it’s easy to forget certain details when it comes to informing your insurance provider.

If you require further information regarding what to do after a car accident, feel free to get in touch and we will try to provide our assistance where possible.

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