Car accident – the role of the police following an accident
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Following a car accident
If you have been involved in a car accident, by law you must stop and give your name, address and the vehicle registration number, and the name and address of the vehicle owner to anyone who needs it.
You should also try to do the following:
- Ensure the safety of other people involved in the car accident
- If possible, warn other road users (without endangering yourself)
- Call the emergency services if required
- Make sure any injured people seek treatment
- Try to get the details of any witnesses to the car accident
- Draw a brief sketch how the accident happened, showing the position of cars and the direction of travel
The role of the police
If the police are called to the scene of an accident, their role is the following:
- Ensure nobody is exposed to further hazards
- Make sure the work of all emergency services is coordinated
- Start to investigate the cause of the car accident
- Record the details of the accident
- Ensure road disruption is kept to a minimum
It is likely that an official report will be made by the police in the following circumstances:
- If a person is killed or injured
- If the car accident is a ‘hit-and-run’
- If there is sufficient evidence to support a prosecution of one or more parties
- If a driver has lost control
- If a road sign or crash barrier has been damaged
- Where a faulty vehicle has contributed to the car accident
In all other circumstances, it is unlikely that the police will take any further action.
Below are some questions that we are frequently asked about the role of the police following a car accident:
- What will the police ask for?
The police will need to see your driving license, certificate of insurance and MOT certificate. If you were unable to produce these documents at the scene of the car accident, you have up to 7 days to do so at the police station of your choice.
- Do I have to give my insurance details to anyone?
As a driver you must give your insurance details to anyone who has been injured or who wishes to make a claim against you, even though you may feel you are not to blame for the car accident.
You may ask for another person's car insurance details if you have been injured in the car accident or if you wish to make a claim against them.
- How do I obtain details of the other people involved in the accident
These details are usually available from the Collision Enquiry Unit of the county where the accident took place.
Drivers have up to a week to present their documents to the police. Therefore, it is advisable for you to allow at least 10 days from when the accident took place before contacting the Collision Enquiry Unit. Details of other people involved in, or witnesses to the accident may not be able to be disclosed due to The Data Protection Act.
Once the case has been finalised a full copy of the report detailing all persons involved can be obtained by your insurance company or solicitor.
- If my vehicle is damaged, who is responsible for moving it?
If your vehicle is on or near the road and causing an obstruction to other road users the police will usually require your vehicle to be removed by a recovery operator. The cost of removal and any subsequent storage charges is the responsibility of the owner and/or driver.
- How much will a recovery operator cost?
Recovery operators called out by the Police can only charge statutory rates, and you shouldn’t pay more than you have to for this service. If you have breakdown cover, they will usually make arrangements for your car to be removed. Please be aware that this may cost you more than the statutory police rate, so check first before you arrange a recovery through your breakdown insurance provider.
- What about a written statement?
It is possible you will be asked to make a statement, and if this is the case, the police will give you further details. In cases being considered for prosecution you will usually be sent a Proforma Statement to fill in.
- What will the police do after the car accident?
If the accident is recorded, the police will always tell you if they propose to take any further action. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the police will advise you whether they will take further action.
- Can I contact the police officer who attended the accident?
The Collision Enquiry Unit will deal with all administration following a car accident. Therefore, any queries you may have should be addressed to The Collision Enquiry Unit in the first instance.
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- Provide you with a replacement vehicle*
- Organise repairs to your car
- Help you make a personal injury claim
For more information about pursuing a car accident compensation claim, call us now on 0800 78 38 846 or click here to contact us online. We’re here 24 hours a day with free and friendly legal advice.