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Leaving The Scene Of An Accident: Here’s What To Do
If you are involved in a collision, you have a legal duty to stop your vehicle, ensure the safety of others and to report any damage. This could also mean calling for medical assistance if necessary and waiting for the police to arrive if required. You will also need to exchange contact details and insurance details with the other driver. Failing to do these things and leaving the scene of an accident could have legal consequences that you need to be aware of.
On this page, we will explain your legal responsibilities following an accident, as well as the process that you should follow if you become involved in a road traffic accident.
Can You Be Charged For Leaving The Scene Of An Accident?
If you fail to stop your vehicle after having a road traffic collision, you could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Depending on the severity of the collision, this could be a serious charge that shouldn’t be ignored.
That’s why it’s always best to stop your vehicle immediately if you are involved in an accident. This will prevent you from being charged with leaving the scene of an accident, avoiding the potential for legal action.
So, what should you do if you have an accident on the roads, and what should you do next if you’re charged with leaving the scene of an accident? Read on to find out everything you need to know.
What Should You Do If You Have An Accident?
If you are involved in an accident on the road, you have a legal obligation to stop your vehicle and follow a specific process.
First of all, you should take steps to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the accident. This includes passengers in your own vehicle, drivers and passengers in other vehicles and any pedestrians or cyclists that may have also been involved. If anyone is injured, you will need to call an ambulance and administer first aid if possible.
If anyone has been injured in the accident, there is debris left behind or other road users could be at risk, you will also need to call the police. They will attend the scene to divert traffic if required, clear any debris, record the accident, and secure any evidence.
Whether or not the police have been called, you will also need to exchange contact details and insurance details with anyone else involved in the accident. It is also a good idea to request contact details from any passers-by that witnessed the accident as these could act as witnesses both for insurance claims and in a police investigation if required.
After following the steps above, you will also need to inform your insurance company of the accident. This should be done as soon as possible after the accident to ensure a swift insurance claim. This will also give you the time needed to follow the insurer’s processes.
What If The Vehicle Is Unattended?
If an accident involves an unattended vehicle, for example a car which is parked on a road or in a public car park, you have a legal duty to identify and notify the owner. In other words, you need to stop at the scene and attempt to locate the owner of the vehicle you have collided with.
You can do this by asking around in the local vicinity, writing a note to notify the owner of the incident and including your contact and insurance details and making a note of the registration plate of the vehicle so that you can inform your own insurance.
If you collide with an unattended vehicle and can’t identify its owner, it’s always best to contact the police to explain the incident. This way, the accident is on record, along with your admission. This will help to protect you against a charge of leaving the scene of an accident.
What To Do If You Hit A Parked Car And There Is No Damage?
You might be wondering if you really need to stop or report the accident if there is no damage to an unattended vehicle after a collision. However, you are still legally obliged to attempt to locate the owner of the vehicle and to report the incident, even if no damage can be seen.
If you are unable to locate the owner, you should leave a note with your contact information and insurance details, as well as reporting the incident to the non-emergency police. Failing to report an incident could lead to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident, even if no damage has been caused to the other vehicle.
How Long Do I Have To Report An Accident?
When you are involved in a road traffic accident, you should ideally report it immediately. For serious accidents, or if anyone has been injured, you will need to contact the police to attend the scene. For more minor incidents, the accident can be reported directly to your insurer.
You should report the accident from the scene if possible. However, if you are unable to do so due to poor mobile signal or no contact method available, you should report the accident as soon as it becomes possible to do so. This should usually be within a couple hours of the accident occurring.
If you don’t report an accident within 24 hours of its occurrence, it could lead to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident.
What Happens If You Don’t Report An Accident?
We have already discussed the importance of reporting an accident as soon as it occurs. But what happens if you fail to stop at the scene of an accident or report its occurrence?
If you are involved in an accident and fail to stop at the scene, you could be charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident. This could lead to penalties including:
- A fine of up to £5,000 being issued
- Up to 10 penalty points being endorsed
- A maximum term of 6 months imprisonment
- A disqualification from driving
The penalty that you are given will depend on how serious the case is and whether anyone suffered a detriment in health as a result of the failure to stop. The court will weigh up these factors when deciding on the most appropriate penalty to issue.
What Are The Defences Against Leaving The Scene Of An Accident?
If you are involved in an accident, it is crucial that you stop your vehicle, liaise with the other party and report the accident immediately. However, if you have left the scene of an accident without stopping or reporting it, there are some defences that may apply to your case.
In order to be convicted of leaving the scene of an accident, the judge will need to be satisfied that you were aware of the accident occurring. If you were unaware of the accident happening, for example if you didn’t see or hear anything to suggest that an accident had occurred, you could offer this as a defence.
The other possible defence to this charge is that you stopped at the scene of the accident and tried to find the other party but no one arrived to exchange details. However, this is not usually a strong defence and you are then likely to be questioned as to why you failed to report the incident to the police.
What To Do If You Are Charged With Failing To Stop At The Scene Of An Accident
Being charged for failing to stop at the scene of an accident is bound to send even the calmest of people into a panic. You will probably be concerned about the penalty you could face and wondering the best way to defend yourself in court.
If you are told by the police that you have committed an offence due to failing to stop at the scene of an accident, the first thing to do is to contact a specialist motoring offence solicitor, such as Caddick Davies. They will be best placed to talk you through your options going forwards.
If you have a defence that you wish to enter, a motoring offence lawyer can help you to present it in the strongest possible way, as well as explaining your chances of success with your defence. If you choose to plead guilty, your motoring offence solicitor will be on your side, arguing for a more lenient penalty on your behalf.
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Get Specialist Legal Advice About Leaving The Scene Of An Accident
Receiving a charge of leaving the scene of an accident can feel daunting, especially if you were unaware that the accident had even occurred. You are probably wondering what your next steps should be and how best to defend your case.
If you’ve been charged with leaving the scene of an accident, it’s always best to have a specialist motoring defence solicitor on your side. They will be able to evaluate the case, enter a defence on your behalf and negotiate a reduced penalty should you decide to plead guilty.
Being charged with leaving the scene of an accident will no doubt fill you with dread, but we are here to help. At Caddick Davies, we have a team of specialists on hand to answer your questions and provide you with expert legal advice. Should the case go to court, we will prepare the strongest possible case to represent you, giving you the best possible chances in court.
If you’re facing investigation or prosecution for leaving the scene of an accident, call Caddick Davies on 0151 280 3346 for free consultation.
Commonly Asked Questions About Leaving The Scene Of An Accident
Leaving the scene of an accident and a hit and run are the same in principle. However, ‘leaving the scene of an accident’ is the legal term for this offence, whilst ‘hit and run’ is typically more commonly used in informal situations. Both of these offences involve failing to report an accident and are essentially considered to be the same thing.
The penalty point endorsement that you may receive for leaving the scene of an accident will depend on the circumstances. For example, a minor scrape may result in a fine and five penalty points, whilst a more serious incident such as a collision that results in serious injury or which involved drink driving could result in up to ten points being awarded, disqualification from driving or even imprisonment.
It is possible to hit a car without knowing. For example, if you were driving a van or an HGV, you might not feel or hear an accident occurring. This could mean that you hit something or someone without being aware that it has happened. If this is the case, you could be charged with leaving the scene of the accident without even being aware that the accident has occurred.
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