What to do after a road traffic accident


Car accidents are a common occurrence, with roughly 181,384 accidents being reported in 2016.[1] When these accidents happen, the consequences can be anything from minor injuries to the more tragic, resulting in the loss of life. We understand how traumatic accidents can be and that you may not know what to do after being involved in one. Below we will look at the things you should do after you have been involved in a collision, and how you should go about making a claim if you do suffer personal injury.


What to do if you are involved in a road traffic accident


  1. Stop

After an accident you are legally required to stop, otherwise you risk committing an offence under s.170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.[2] So, no matter how minor the bump, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so, turn your engine off and switch your hazard lights on.


  1. Attend to any injuries

Your health is paramount, if anyone involved in the accident has suffered injuries then it is important that you seek medical attention. This includes any passengers in your vehicle or the other vehicle(s) involved. The Police may also need to attend the scene if the accident is serious or someone has been injured.


  1. Exchange details

When talking to the driver of the other vehicle(s) involved, you will need to exchange contact details, vehicle registration numbers and insurance details. It is also a good idea to make a note of the make, model and colour of the car. This will help to verify we have the correct vehicle details. If however you have been involved in an accident as a pedestrian then click here for more advice


  1. Collect evidence

If possible, take photos of any damage to the vehicles involved and of the accident scene. It is also recommended that you take the contact details of anyone who witnessed the collision, whether they are passengers of the vehicles involved or people who are passing by. Collecting evidence at this stage will help to further verify your version of events.


  1. Report the accident

It is a legal requirement to report all road traffic accidents to the police within 24 hours of them occurring. If an officer attends the scene of the accident, then they will most likely complete an accident report. Please ensure that you are provided with the Police reference number.  It is advised that you keep hold of this as you may need to apply for a copy of any Police Report should there be different versions of events of how the accident happened.  You should also notify your insurer of your accident, as a failure to do so may invalidate your claim.



What if I have suffered personal injury?


If you have suffered personal injury as a result of a road traffic accident, then you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation. The aim of this is to put you in the position you would have been if the accident had never occurred. This may include compensation for any medical treatment or travel costs you have incurred, or any loss of earnings you have suffered due to the accident.



Should I make a claim through my insurer?


The insurance company will be one of the first parties to know about your potential claim, and so they may try to settle the claim early in order to minimise the amount of compensation they have to pay out. Accepting an early offer means that you may not be able to claim later if your injuries worsen over time, which also means that you will not be getting compensation which adequately reflects the loss you have suffered. This is particularly relevant if you have suffered head or back injuries which may take longer to fully manifest themselves.


In light of this, the Law Society recommends that you instruct a solicitor to ensure that you are properly represented and that your claim is not under-settled. Not only can this help you gain up to three times as much compensation,[3] you will also be getting legal advice which is tailored to your situation by someone familiar with the law who has a duty to act in your best interests.


Smith Jones specialist personal injury solicitors have over 29 years of experience in helping people who have been victims of road traffic accidents. We operate on a no win no fee basis for road traffic accidents, allowing you to make a claim with no immediate cost to you. For road traffic accidents, our cost cap guarantee is up to 25% of the damages awarded.[4] We may well take less but we will never take more, meaning that you get to keep the majority of the settlement awarded.





It is a legal requirement to stop and report a road traffic accident after it has occurred. You will also need to start gathering details at this early stage, as these may help you in the event that you need to make a claim for personal injury.


If you find yourself needing to claim for personal injury, it is recommended that you go through a specialist personal injury solicitor as they will be able to maximise the value of your claim, with no immediate cost to you. A personal injury solicitor will have a robust knowledge of the law, a duty to act in your best interests and can provide advice which is tailored to your specific injuries and needs.

[1] Department for Transport, Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2016 Annual Report (Published 28th September 2017) <>

[2] Road Traffic Act 1988, s 170

[3] The Law Society, ‘Law Society launches bold new advertising campaign for personal injury’ (Published 24th June 2013) <>

[4] The Smith Jones Guarantee Cap: Without diminishing your overall indemnity to us in costs, unless you fail to keep to Your Responsibilities or the work we do for you goes beyond the scope of this agreement or you take out an ATE insurance policy or any third party funding, WE GUARANTEE that if you Win then, you will receive a minimum of 75% of your overall damages.