Failing to Stop After an Accident

If you have been involved in an accident – not necessarily your fault (!) – in which injury or damage is caused to the other vehicle or to, for example, a house or fencing then you must stop and give your details to the person who has suffered the damage, etc. If for any reason this does not happen e.g. the owner of the house is not at home, then you must report the matter to the police as soon as is reasonably practicable and, in any case, within 24 hours: NOTE THAT 24 HOURS IS THE MAXIMUM; YOUR DUTY IS TO REPORT “. . AS SOON AS IS REASONABLY PRACTICABLE . .” Thus if you report within 24 hours but not “. . . as soon as reasonably practicable . . .”, then you commit the offence!

LOOPHOLE

The offence requires that you have knowledge of the accident. Thus, if you were unaware, then you cannot be guilty. The classic case (though not exclusively) is that of the HGV driver whose trailer clips a stationery vehicle, on a busy road; perhaps next to noisy roadworks. If he did not know of the accident and the court believes him, then he will be acquitted.

That would be a pleasing result and better than a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment (in extreme cases), a discretionary disqualification or 5 to 10 penalty points, a maximum fine of £5000 and prosecution costs.

Please note that it is not acceptable for you to report the accident to the Police via telephone and neither can you ask someone else to report the incident on your behalf.

At the scene of an accident, you must also produce your certificate of insurance to anyone who has reasonable grounds to see it (the driver of the other vehicle, owner of damaged property, the Police etc.). Also, you must report the accident to your insurance company within a reasonable time, even if you do not intend to make a claim yourself. Failure to do so may give your insurance company the right to refuse cover in future.

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