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Accidents and theft

What should I do after an accident?

It is an offence if you either fail to stop at the scene of an accident or fail to report an accident in which you are involved.

If a road-traffic accident in which you are involved as a driver results in injury to someone other than yourself, or injury to an animal, or damage to property, there are important things you must do to avoid breaking the law and to help any possible future insurance claim.

If you've been an AA Member for more than a year, then you can get advice on any personal legal matter, motoring or otherwise, by calling the legal assistance helpline, available 24 hours a day.

Involved in an accident?

As soon as your car is involved in an accident you need to take the following steps, regardless of who was at fault.

If you are involved in a road-traffic accident as a driver, and one or more of the following occurs:

  • a person, other than yourself, is injured
  • damage is caused to another vehicle or to someone else's property – including lamps, signs, bollards and other street furniture.
  • an animal has been killed or injured,* except in your own vehicle or trailer

Then you must:

  • Stop and remain at the scene for a reasonable period.
  • Give your vehicle registration number, your name and address, and that of the vehicle owner (if different) to anyone with reasonable grounds for asking for those details.

If you don't exchange those details at the scene, you must report the accident at a police station or to a police constable as soon as you can, and in any case within 24 hours.

If another person is injured you must:

  • Produce your certificate of insurance, if anyone at the scene has reasonable grounds to see it.
  • If you do not, you must report the accident at a police station or to a constable as soon as you can and in any case within 24 hours. You'll need to produce your certificate of insurance but if you don't have it when reporting the accident to the police, you may take it, within seven days of the accident, to the police station you nominate when you report the incident.

Reporting the accident to the police by telephone is not sufficient and you cannot ask someone else to report for you.

You're obliged to do these things not only when you are directly involved in an accident, but also if your vehicle's 'presence' was a factor.


Failing to stop and failing to report

If you don't comply with these obligations you risk committing two offences: failing to stop and failing to report, and you can be guilty of either or both. The penalty for each includes a maximum fine of £5,000 and five to ten penalty points. Courts also have the power to disqualify you from driving for either offence and are likely to do so when both offences are committed on the same occasion. Failing to stop or report an accident can carry a maximum of six months' imprisonment.


You should report the accident to your insurance company within a reasonable time, even if you do not want to claim yourself. If you don't you could invalidate your cover.

At the scene

Note down a detailed description of what happened, collecting as much information – photographs and notes – as you can while at the scene.

  • Scene – date, time, location, weather conditions, traffic conditions, road markings/signs/signals.
  • Vehicles – make, model, registration number, colour, condition, estimated speed, direction, use of lights or indicators, number of passengers.
  • People – contact details, description/distinguishing features of driver(s), contact details of passengers, pedestrians or other witnesses, details of any police officers involved.
  • Damage – description of the damage to vehicles or property, and any injuries to people involved.


(Page updated 7 July 2016)

* An 'animal' is defined as any horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog.