We all hope that we will never be involved in a road traffic accident, but it is important to be aware of your legal responsibilities if you are. If damage is caused to another person or property then you must stop and provide full details to the injured person or owner of that property. The details should include your name, your address, details of the vehicle or details of the person who owns that vehicle. If someone has been hurt you have to report the incident to the Police as soon as reasonably practicable, but in any event within 24 hours. There is no duty to inform the Police if only damage to property has occurred as long as full details have been exchanged between parties.
Many people fall foul of their obligation to report the incident believing that they have a full 24 hours within which to do so. The important wording is “as soon as reasonably practicable”. This means that it should be given priority, not left until you feel you have got more time. A telephone call is insufficient. The matter must be reported to a Constable in person or at the Police Station.
No matter how minor the damage is, you should stop at the location for a reasonable length of time to make enquiries as to who the owner of the vehicle or property is. Details should be exchanged or alternatively reported to the Police no matter how minor the damage is. If you believe that there is no damage or are honestly unaware of any damage having been caused then you have a potential defence to charges of failing to stop and report an accident.
If an incident like this does occur it is always better to inform your insurance provider to avoid any risk that insurance could be invalidated.
The offences of failing to stop and report an accident are usually dealt with by way of a financial penalty of up to £2,500 and a mandatory endorsement of between 5 and 10 penalty points but each carry up to six months imprisonment for the most serious cases.
So, next time you knock off a wing mirror or nudge someone’s Mini in the supermarket carpark, don’t drive off and hope no one will notice. You will only make things worse. Be sure your sins will find you out. Someone is bound to have seen you and the Facebook detectives will soon catch up with you, and car parks do have cameras.
If another person is involved, just stop and sort it out. The consequences of running away are just not worth it.
If you need advice about any issues raised in this article, call Trystan at Poole Townsend on 01229 811811.