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What to do after a car accident

Rarely do people know what to do after a car accident, especially when it wasn’t their fault.
Taking the correct steps is vital for everyone’s safety and for processing a successful non-fault claim afterwards.

What should I do directly after the accident?

What details should I exchange with the other driver?

Collecting Evidence After A Car Accident

Who should I speak to about vehicle recovery?

Who should I contact first?

Knowing What To Do Step By Step

We’ll guide you through what to do, step-by-step

We are specialists in non-fault road traffic accidents.

Here is our step-by-step guide for you to follow if you’ve been in an accident what wasn’t your fault.

Step 1

Directly after the incident

Step 2

Contacting the emergency services

Step 3

Exchanging details with the other driver

Step 4

Information and evidence to collect

Step 5

Getting recovery at the roadside

Step 6

Starting a non-fault accident claim

If you’d like to speak to someone about a non-fault accident, call us on 0330 128 1407.

Or start your non-fault claim online with us here >

Independent. Trusted. On your side.

Speak to us first after a non-fault accident.

We are a non-fault specialist accident management company. We provide practical support and advice, while managing all aspects related to the accident, from roadside recovery to your vehicle’s repairs. Our purpose is to relieve the disruption of a non-fault accident to your daily life.

Call our new claims team on 0330 128 1407 | Start your claim now >

The benefits of using us, not provided by your insurer:

  • No policy excess to pay
  • A comparable replacement vehicle
  • A dedicated claims handler
  • No risk to your no claims bonus
  • BSI Kitemark accredited repair network

Step 1

What to do directly after the car accident

Switch Off The Car

Stop and switch off the car

The very first thing to do is stop the car safely, if it is not already safely stationary. Make sure to turn it off.

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Inspect for injuries

Inspect for injuries

Check yourself, your passengers and anyone else for injuries sustained. Call an ambulance if injuries occur.

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Stay calm, cool, collected

Stay calm

At this point, emotions tend to run high. Take a moment to keep calm.

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Don't Apologise

Don’t apologise or admit fault

Even a simple apology can be used as an admission of fault. Be respectful but don’t apologise or admit fault.

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Switch Off The Car

Stopping the car safely and switching off the car.

After a car accident, it’s natural to feel a mix of emotions and even a bit overwhelmed. Many people feel the same way in such situations.

Not sure what to do right after? That’s a common feeling.

First, if you haven’t already, safely bring your car to a stop.

Even if the accident seems minor, it’s always best to stop. Take a moment to collect your thoughts.

Ensure that you and any passengers are okay. Once you’ve ensured everyone’s safety, switch off the car’s engine. Then, turn on your hazard lights to signal to other drivers about the incident.


Inspect for injuries

Inspect possible injuries in more detail for yourself, passengers and anyone else affected.

First and foremost, check yourself, passengers, and anyone else involved for any possible injuries. If you notice any injuries, no matter how minor they seem, your top priority should be to dial emergency services and request an ambulance. Clearly mention that you’ve been in a car accident and provide them with your location details as accurately as you can.

Remember, emergency services are trained to guide you in such situations. If you’re uncertain about what to do next, don’t hesitate to call them.

Quick Tip: In case you’re finding it hard to pin down your exact location, and there aren’t any witnesses or other drivers nearby to help, consider using the ‘what3words‘ website or app.

‘what3words’ is a novel location tool that divides the globe into 3m x 3m squares, assigning each square a unique three-word identifier. Many emergency responders now rely on this system to pinpoint exact locations during emergencies. By using this tool, you can offer precise location details to the emergency team.

However, if it seems like there aren’t any injuries at the scene, it’s a good idea to make a note of that fact. This detail can be vital during the claims process, particularly if there are disputes or claims related to injuries later on.

Still, if you’re in doubt about any potential injuries, err on the side of caution and call emergency services regardless. It’s always better to be safe.


Stay calm, cool, collected

Stay calm while keeping tensions and tempers low.

In the moments following an accident, the initial shock might still be setting in.

You’re not alone in this. Emotions are bound to be heightened for:

  • Every driver involved.
  • All passengers.
  • Witnesses.
  • Bystanders.
  • And even onlookers in other vehicles.

Remember, many people, like yourself, might be unsure about the right steps to take after an accident. This uncertainty can amplify feelings of anxiety and stress.

Taking a brief moment to centre yourself can make a world of difference. Try taking a few deep breaths and focusing on steadying your nerves.

Keeping a cool head is essential, not only for your well-being but also for effective communication and gathering crucial information. It’s in everyone’s best interest to avoid escalating tensions. Do your part to foster a calm environment and encourage others to stay composed as well.


Don't Apologise

Don’t apologise or admit any responsibility for the accident.

It’s natural to want to say “sorry” after an accident, even if you’re not sure what exactly happened. But it’s wise to hold off on apologising.

Sometimes, people say sorry just out of habit or shock, even if the accident wasn’t their fault. But be careful: others might take your apology as you saying it was your fault, and that can cause issues when it’s time to sort things out with insurance.

If the other driver says they’re sorry or mentions anything about the accident, it’s a good idea to remember what they said and when. This can be helpful later on.

It’s also smart to have someone around who saw what happened, like a witness. They don’t need to know all the rules about accidents, but their memory of the event can help clear things up if needed.

If you’re worried someone might be hurt, always call for help. At the end of the day, everyone’s safety is the most important thing.

Step 2

Knowing when to contact the police

It’s recommended that no matter the circumstance, the police are made aware of a car accident collision.

A common misunderstanding when people aren’t sure of what to do in a car accident is how and when should the police be brought into the situation.

It is the situation circumstances at hand that will depend on whether you’ll need to call the police immediately or whether you contact them once you leave the scene of the collision.

When to call 999

When to call 999

In certain situations following a non-fault accident, calling 999 is the best option. These include:

  • To provide safety, medical care or to protect the scene
  • To assist with investigating the collision
  • If you suspect the collision was intentional
  • If the other driver is uninsured
  • If the other driver is under the influence of any kind
  • If the other driver fled the scene after the collision
When 999 is not required

When 999 is not required

If the collision doesn’t require you to call 999, the best course of action is to notify your local police station within 24 hours. You can do this by:

  • Reporting the collision online
  • Reporting the collision at your local station
  • Calling 101 after the car accident

Step 3

Exchanging details at the accident scene

Once the initial shock has subsided and everyone is safe, it is a legal requirement for both drivers to exchange details. This is very important for a successful non-fault claim. These details must include the following:

Exchanging drivers details

Exchanging drivers details

  • Driver’s full name
  • Driver’s home address
  • Driver’s telephone number(s)
  • Driver’s insurance company
  • Vehicle registration number
  • Vehicle’s registered owners details (if the driver is not the vehicle owner)

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Passenger and Witness Details

Passenger and witness details

Exchanging details with the other driver alone is sometimes not enough.

Ensure that all details are exchanged with any and all passengers; both from your own vehicle and importantly from the third-party vehicle as well.

To help build your claim once you have left the road traffic accident scene, witnesses are very important to the success and evidence.

If you have a witness at this point, ensure you collect the witness’s details in full.

No passengers or witnesses? +


Exchanging drivers details

Exchanging Details

After the initial shock has passed and you’ve made sure everyone is okay, UK law requires both drivers to share their details.

You’ll need to exchange the following:

  • Full Name
  • Home Address
  • Telephone Number(s)
  • Vehicle Registration Number
  • Details of the vehicle’s registered owner (if different from the driver)

It’s also wise to jot down the other driver’s insurance company name. This can be handy if you have trouble getting in touch with the driver later on.

Remember to both collect the other driver’s details and provide your own. It’s an offence not to share your details after a car accident. Failing to do so could not only land you in hot water but might also affect any accident claim you make later.

For a smooth claims process later on, keep the details you’ve collected safe. If you can, save them electronically by sending yourself an email or saving them in cloud storage.

While it’s always good to have a paper and pen for things like sketches (see our section on what information to jot down), remember paper can get lost or damaged easily. So, it’s best to keep a backup.


Passenger and Witness Details

No passengers or witnesses?

If you don’t have a witness right now, consider asking any new passers-by if they will accompany you as a witness from here onwards. This will be while you gather evidence of who is at fault, followed by accurate and detailed facts about the accident itself.

Step 4

Information and evidence to collect at the accident scene

Recording detailed information related to an accident is crucial for establishing evidence to unequivocally prove you were not at fault. If you are preparing for potential future incidents, we recommend keeping a small notepad in your vehicle at all times.

Third Party Vehicle Details

Third-party vehicles details

Take note of all third-party vehicles involved, including make, model, colour, year and registration plate.

Time and Date

Time and date of the accident

It’s very important to take note of the exact time and date of the accident. Also, any precise timing of events leading up to the accident.

Photographs Of Both Vehicles

Photographs of both vehicles

Take photographs, and if possible videos, of all vehicles, including your own. Make sure to capture damage and positions of vehicles.

Any And All Injuries

Any and all injuries

If anyone one injured, make sure to make a note of this. In addition, if people weren’t injured, make a note of this also.

Photos Of The Accident Scene

Photos of accident scene

In addition to the vehicles, take photographs and videos of the accident scene and surrounding areas.

Witness Comments

Full witness comments

Ask witnesses to provide you with a detailed report and note this down. Ask them to sign and date it and collect their details.

Photography of conditions

Photographs of conditions

Make an attempt to fully capture the riving conditions, including: Lighting, surface quality, weather etc.

Sketch Of Circumstances

A sketch of the circumstances

If possible, create a visual drawing of how the accident happened. Agree this with the other driver and ask them to sign.

Commentary Video

Commentary video

It’s a great idea to create a ‘commentary video’, walking around and explaining what happened while it’s still fresh in your mind.

CCTV Cameras

CCTV cameras or dashcams

Look around for any buildings with CCTV. Ask if any other vehicles that may have witnessed the accident have dash cam footage.

Step 5

Getting accident recovery at the roadside

After a car accident, extensive visible damage often clearly indicates the need for recovery. However, at times, damage isn’t as apparent.

Operating an unroadworthy vehicle is not only unsafe but also illegal in the UK. If you aren’t sure whether the car is safe, you should avoid driving it to prevent any further risk or complications. When considering accident recovery, the important things to know are:

Does My Vehicle Need Recovery

Does my vehicle need recovery?

Checking that your vehicle passes a ‘roadworthy vehicle check’ is the first place to start when considering recovery.

Roadworthy vehicle checklist +

Contact For Recovery

Who should I contact for recovery?

Avoid contacting your own insurance for recovery. Equally, avoid paying out for a private recovery service. There is a better way, at no cost to you, by working with an accident management company.


Does My Vehicle Need Recovery

Vehicle Roadworthiness Checklist

Here’s a checklist to help determine if a vehicle is roadworthy or if it might require recovery in the UK:

  1. Tyres and Wheels
    • All tyres inflated (no visible punctures or bulges).
    • Tread depth meets the legal minimum of 1.6mm across the middle three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre and around the entire circumference.
    • No significant damage to the wheels.
  2. Brakes
    • Brakes are responsive and don’t feel spongy.
    • No unusual noises or grinding when brakes are applied.
    • Handbrake engages and holds the car.
  3. Lights
    • Headlights (both main and dipped) are operational.
    • Brake lights illuminate when brakes are applied.
    • Indicators flash and are visible.
    • Tail lights and number plate lights work.
  4. Fluid Leaks
    • No noticeable fluid patches or drips under the vehicle.
    • Brake fluid, coolant, and engine oil levels are within recommended levels.
  5. Windows and Mirrors
    • Windscreen and windows are clear with no significant cracks.
    • Wing mirrors and rear-view mirror are correctly positioned and undamaged.
  6. Steering
    • Steering wheel turns smoothly without resistance.
    • No unusual noises when turning the wheel.
  7. Exhaust
    • No excessive smoke or unusual sounds.
    • Exhaust is securely attached.
  8. Vehicle Structure
    • No parts dragging or hanging off the vehicle.
    • Doors close securely and lock properly.
  9. Warning Lights
    • No warning lights remain illuminated on the dashboard after starting the vehicle (e.g., engine warning, ABS, airbags).
  10. Battery
    • Vehicle starts without hesitation.
    • No warning lights indicating battery issues.

If any of the items on this checklist are not in proper working order, it may indicate that your vehicle isn’t roadworthy. If in doubt, it’s safer to request recovery or professional assistance rather than risk driving a potentially unsafe vehicle.

Note: This checklist serves as a basic guide and doesn’t replace regular vehicle maintenance checks or professional assessments.

For breakdowns or accidents, keep emergency essentials in your car. See our car emergency essentials guide for details.

Step 6

Starting a non-fault claim after the accident

Many instinctively call their insurance after an accident, either to claim or seek advice, as most insurers have dedicated lines for this.

However, if you’re not at fault, directly claiming through your insurer may leave you at a disadvantage. Accident management companies offer an invaluable alternative, handling claims independently to ensure non-fault drivers receive what they’re entitled to with minimal disruption.

Who To Contact First

Who to contact first?

If you weren’t at fault for the accident, there is a better alternative. The choice of who you contact first, however, is important to secure your eligibility.

Learn more +

Start a non fault claim

Starting the non-fault claim

Working with a partner who understands what to do after a car accident is essential. Your dedicated claims handler will initiate a claim on your behalf.

Learn more +

The Claims Process

The claims process

Understand the next steps in what to do after a car accident – navigate the non-fault claims process with Auto Claims Assist.

Start your non-fault claim now

Embark on a hassle-free journey with our dedicated assistance. Let us help you navigate through the complexities, ensuring a smooth and efficient resolution.


Who To Contact First

Who to Contact First after a non-fault accident?

When an accident happens, many people’s first thought is to ring their insurance company. Your own insurance company have a dedicated claims helplines and can provide guidance. However, if the accident wasn’t your fault, going directly to your insurer isn’t the most beneficial option.

Why not go straight to your insurer?
  • Your premiums could increase.
  • You’ll need to pay your policy excess.
  • It might affect your no-claims discount.
  • They may use non-genuine parts for repairs.
  • They aim to save money, which may not always favour you.
  • You might get a basic courtesy car for only a short time.
  • They might not value your car accurately if it’s a total loss.
  • They could end up directing you to an accident management company anyway and get paid for it!
Why Auto Claims Assist are the better alternative
  • We’re rated EXCELLENT on Trustpilot.
  • We’re regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority).
  • You’ll have a dedicated, personal claims handler.
  • Your no-claims bonus stays unaffected.
  • We’ll give you a comparable vehicle replacement for the full duration your vehicle is off the road
  • We offer 24/7 nationwide recovery and secure storage.
  • Our BSI Kitemark accredited engineers use only new manufacturer-approved parts and paint.
  • No out-of-pocket expenses for you.
  • No excess to pay to claim

Learn more about Auto Claims Assist vs. standard insurance.


Start a non fault claim

Starting a non-fault accident claim with Auto Claims Assist

When you’ve had a car accident, navigating the ins and outs of accident management can be challenging. That’s where we come in.

To initiate a claim with Auto Claims Assist, you have the following options:

  • Phone: Call us at 0330 128 1407. Our new claims advisors are ready to take the details of your accident and can initiate your claim over the phone. They’re also available to address any questions or concerns you might have.
  • Online: Complete our non-fault claim form to submit your accident details. Once received, a member of our new claims team will contact you promptly to kickstart the claim process.
What makes Auto Claims Assist stand out?
  1. Expertise: Our team is well-versed in the accident management field. From trained call handlers to those with deep industry insights, we’ve got your back.
  2. Rated Excellent: Our customers consistently rate us as EXCELLENT on Trustpilot.
  3. Investment in People: We believe in nurturing our team. Our strong staff retention rate is a testament to our commitment. This, in turn, ensures you get the best service possible.
  4. Clear Communication: With us, you’ll have your own dedicated claims handler. They’ll know your case inside out and keep you informed every step of the way.

The bottom line? You won’t have to worry about what comes next. We’ll guide you, ensuring you’re always in the loop. With our help, not only will your current situation be handled with care, but you’ll also be better prepared for any future incidents.