What to do in case of a collision

These pages are a guide to what to do immediately after a collision, whether it’s with another road user or as a result of poor road surface or facilities. If you need further help, LCC members are entitled to free legal advice: call 020 7234 9310 for more information.

Collisions with another road user

After such an event it is important to do the following:

  • Note the other party's [this could be a pedestrian, cyclist or driver] name, address and registration number.

  • Note the name, phone number and address of at least two witnesses if possible.

  • Make a rough sketch of the collision while it's fresh in your memory.

  • If you have a camera integrated into your mobile, take pictures of the immediate aftermath of the collision, particularly where the other party ended up. Otherwise, come back later with a camera, this will allow you to record road defects and general layout.

  • Report the incident to the police or ask someone else to do so. Note down the name of any police officers attending the scene, their station and if applicable a 'CAD' (Computer Aided Despatch) or 'CRIS' (Crime Reference Information System) number. Having a number will help you to trace the progress of your case.

  • Write down or record a message on your phone describing what happened. Do this as soon as possible after the collision, whilst it is still fresh in your mind.

  • See a doctor, even if you feel OK. Injuries sometimes show up later and a doctor's examination can provide vital evidence.

On the matter of saying sorry after a crash, Kevin O'Sullivan of Levenes Solictors says:

"In terms of apologising after a collision, I’d advise yes, although stick to apologising for the event rather than your part in it. This is a good idea to defuse the tension. Too much is often made of what is said post-accident, but in my experience it rarely makes a difference because both parties are often found to be in a state of shock, or in pain, or both."

Saying that, we still advise you not to admit responsibility as this may count against you later. Courts often divide up blame between parties and allocate damages accordingly. Where the party suing ('the Claimant') is held to be partially to blame, this is called 'contributory negligence'. Do, however, note any admission by the driver.

Note: It does not matter if a witness is known personally to you or is related, though it may mean not so much weight is given to their evidence as if they were simply a bystander.

Collisions not involving another road user

After such an event it is important to do the following:

  • Note the name and address of any witness.

  • Ask local people if there have been other incidents at the same place.

  • Take photos as soon as possible, before the road can be repaired.  A close up with a mobile phone camera can be enough.

  • Write down what happened.

  • Report the incident to the highway authority which will be the local authority, unless it is a major road such as a red route when it will be Transport for London.

  • Even if another road user is involved you may still have a claim against the highway authority where there is a surface defect or negligent design of a road. They will only be liable for the latter.

Dealing with the effects of a crash

While you may expect to be in shock immediately after a collision, you should not expect to this to last. However, having been involved in a collision can leave you very shaken up for quite a long time.

This will not be the case for everyone, but if you do experience ongoing stress and anxiety as a result of a collision there are organisations that can offer you support.

Contact the Roadpeace Victim Support Line on 0845 4500 355 or Trauma Aftercare Trust on 01242 890306, or visit your GP for support and advice.

  • The Trauma Aftercare Trust
    Tel: 01242 890306

  • SANE, a mental health helpline
    Tel: 08457 678000

  • Your own GP for support and advice.

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