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How Long To Report A Car Accident In The UK Guide – Reporting A Car Accident Time Limit UK

By Fern Mitchell. Last Updated 7th April 2021. Welcome to our guide looking at the car accident claim time limit. In this online guide, we explain the importance of reporting a car accident within the time limit in the UK. We will cover all of the different time limits that could apply and who you will need to report your accident to.

We have tried to cover every time limit and provide enough information to answer any questions you have about them. However, there may have been something unique about your accident that this guide doesn’t cover. If this is so, please speak to a member of our claims team on 0800 073 8804 to have your questions answered. One of our claim advisors can also explain to you how we can arrange for a personal injury lawyer to process your personal injury claim for you.

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A Guide To Time Limits For Reporting A Car Accident

car accident claim time limit

Reporting car accident time limit guide

This online guide will attempt to answer the question, is there a time limit on reporting a car accident? As well as others. However, don’t confuse these time limits with the personal injury claims time limit that you must begin processing your claim within. We begin this guide with a brief introduction to what a road traffic accident incident report is. You will also find some information about whether you need to report minor accidents to the police and whom you have to report traffic accidents in general.

The next part of this guide gives information about some of the specific time limits and also organisations you may need to report your accident to. We cover reporting an accident to:

  • The police.
  • Your vehicle insurer.
  • Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB).

As well as explain the reporting process if you were to become the victim of a hit and run accident. This part of the guide also covers how to make an accident report and also the consequences of not reporting an accident on time or failing to report it at all.

The last part of this guide goes over some financial considerations if you intend to make a compensation claim for the accident you have reported. We have used the judicial guidelines that courts in England use to value claims to create a table that shows possible ranges of compensation for a number of different kinds of injuries. We have also listed some of the kinds of damages that your overall compensation settlement could include. Lastly, you will find an overview of what a No Win No Fee claim is. We show how this kind of fee agreement can help to minimise the financial risks you face when making a claim.

You might have unanswered questions once you reach the end of this guide. We can answer them for you if you do; all you need to do is call our claims team on the phone number near the end of this guide. An advisor will also be able to tell you which car accident claim time limit will apply in your own case and arrange for an accident and injury lawyer to process your claim for you.

What Is A Road Traffic Incident Report?

If you have been involved in a Road Traffic Accident (RTA), or you have witnessed one, you can report a car accident to police online, using a simple web-based tool that will cover the location where the accident took place. For example, the web page for the London metropolitan area is provided by the Metropolitan Police.

According to the .Gov site, ”You must report the accident to the police within 24 hours if you do not give your details at the time of the accident.”. If you cannot use the online tool or cannot find one that covers the locality where the accident took place, you can report the accident by phone or by visiting a police station.

Do You Have To Report A Minor Car Accident To The Police In The UK?

Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 says that the driver of a vehicle must always stop at the scene of an accident, no matter how minor they believe the incident to have been.

This law relates not only to accidents involving a vehicle on vehicle collision but also road accidents that harm a pedestrian or an animal as well.

When stopping, the driver should find a safe place to stop, pull over to the side of the road, turn the engine off and the hazard lights on. If the accident occurs on a motorway, the driver should pull over to the hard shoulder and ensure that any animals in the vehicle are locked inside unless in an absolute emergency they must be allowed out of the vehicle.

You may then exchange details with any other party involved in the accident. You must provide every party that asks you with your name and address, as well as the details of the owner of the vehicle (if this isn’t you). You do not legally have to give details of your vehicle insurance unless somebody has actually been harmed in the accident.

If you do not stop for any reason, or if you did not exchange information with any other party involved in the accident, then you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours of it taking place.

For more information on who a report should be made to, as well as further information on the car accident claim time limit, please read on. 

Who Should You Report A Car Accident To?

Whom you should report a road traffic accident to will depend on the circumstances of the accident. You could need to report the accident to:

  • The police – if you did not stop at the scene of the accident or failed to swap driver details.
  • Your vehicle insurer – so that they know you have been involved in an accident and may need to get involved in the claims process.
  • Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) – if you were involved in a hit and run accident or an accident caused by an uninsured driver.
  • Your hire company – if you are driving a hire vehicle.
  • Your employer – if you are driving a company vehicle.
  • Your lawyer – if you intend to make a compensation claim for the harm you suffered in the accident.

If you don’t have a lawyer but need some legal advice about making a road traffic accident claim, we can help. Just give our team a call and talk over your situation with one of our claim advisors.

Time Limits To Report A Car Accident

To answer the question, is there a time limit for reporting a car accident? There are actually three important time limits you will need to consider. There is the time limit for reporting an accident to the police that we explained in a previous section. There is also a time limit for telling your vehicle insurer about an accident. Lastly, there is a personal injury claims time limit that you will need to begin any claim within. The table below explains these time limits:

Type Of Time LimitRelevant Time Limit
Time limit for reporting a car accident to the police if details were not exchanged. The accident should be reported online, in person at a police station, within 24 hours of the accident taking place.
Time limit to report to an insurance companyMost insurers state that the accident should be reported to them within 24 hours. Check the terms and conditions of your insurance policy to be sure.
Time limit to start a claimIn general, 3 years from the date of the accident. Can change, speak to a solicitor to be sure.

If you need clarification about any of these time limits, you can speak to our claims team, and they can help you ascertain which car accident claim time limit applies.

Time Limits To Report A Car Accident To The Police

We have already stated that when reporting a car accident to the police, the time limit is 24 hours. Most people should be able to accomplish this online. However, you are also free to go into a police station and talk to the police face to face; you may not be able to report an accident on the telephone.

The graph below, provided by the Department Of Transport and using information from the National Transport Survey, shows the proportion of respondents to the survey who did not report road accident injuries to the police over a three-year period. As the report notes, it’s not clear how many of these would have been classed as injuries had the police attended.

car accident claim time limit statistics graph

car accident claim time limit statistics graph

Something to consider in relation to the time limit for reporting a car accident to the police is that in some remote areas, if you cannot use the online reporting web page, you may not be able to contact a person to report the accident to in time. You may not have transport to visit the police station, and you may have difficulties getting through to the police on the phone. In general, the police are very understanding, and as long as you have made your best effort to report the accident within the 24-hour time limit, you will generally be allowed a little leeway if extenuating circumstances exist.

If you’d like to speak with someone about the car accident claim time limit, or to start your claim today, just get in touch with us. 

Time Limits To Report A Car Accident To Your Insurance Company

There is no legal time limit for reporting an accident to your insurance company. In general, insurers state that the reporting of a car accident time limit in the UK is 24 hours from the time the accident took place. But not all insurers work to this time limit.

You should check your policy wording and documentation to find out what time limit will apply if you have to report a road traffic accident to your insurance firm.

Time Limits To Report A Hit And Run Car Accident

In order to be able to go on and make a claim for any harm suffered after a road traffic accident when the fault party has left the scene without giving any details and is untraceable will require the accident to be reported to the police within 24 hours of it taking place.

Time Limits To Notify The Motor Insurers Bureau And Other Parties

If you have been harmed in a hit and run accident or by a driver who is driving illegally (no license, insurance, etc.), then you can instigate a claim through the Motor Insurers Bureau. This is a special organisation that maintains a fund of money to be used to compensate victims of road traffic accidents when the fault third party does not stop at the scene or does not have adequate insurance cover to compensate you.

If you are injured by a hit and run driver, the MIB operates a time limit of three years to start a claim, in general. However, this time limit can differ in certain circumstances. If you call our claims team and talk to one of our claim advisors, they will go over your claim with you and let you know which time limit will apply.

How Do You Report A Car Accident?

Having looked at the car accident claim time limit, we’ll now look at the process of reporting an accident in the UK.

In a previous section, we explained what to do if you have been involved in a minor car accident in the UK. We explained that if you have stopped at the scene of an accident and exchanged details with any other party involved, you do not have to report the accident to the police. However, if you did not stop, or you didn’t exchange details, you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours, using an online reporting tool or by visiting a police station.

In relation to reporting an accident to your insurance company, you can do this by telephone. The insurer may ask you to follow the call up with a letter in some circumstances.

What Happens If You Do Not Report A Car Accident?

There are two main consequences if you fail to report a road traffic accident to the relevant parties, and these are:

  • If you fail to report a road traffic accident to the police when you have not exchanged details at the scene, you could be prosecuted as this is a punishable offence.
  • If you fail to report a road traffic accident to your vehicle insurer, you may not be able to make a subsequent claim.

If you have failed to report a road traffic accident to the police or your insurer, you may need some feel legal advice to find out how best to proceed. Speak to one of our advisors to get this help.

Costs And Losses You May Be Compensated For

When personal injury claims for a road traffic accident are successful, the claimant could receive a number of different kinds of damages, such as:

  • General damages:
    • Loss of life quality.
    • Permanent impairment.
    • Psychological injuries.
    • Stress and trauma.
    • Pain and suffering.
  • Special damages:
    • Loss of earning potential.
    • Lost current income.
    • Medical fees.
    • Travel costs.
    • The cost of nursing care.

To find out what kinds of damages you may be able to claim in your own case, or to find out more about the car accident claim time limit, speak to our claims team today.

Calculating Car Accident Compensation Claims (Updated April 2021)

The table below lists injuries and the potential compensation a claimant suffering from them could receive. The judicial guidelines used in England were used as the basis of this table.

InjurySeverityCompensationNotes
Brain damage Very severe £264,650 to £379,100There will be little, if any, evidence of meaningful response to environment, little or no language function, double incontinence and the need for full-time nursing care.
Brain damage Moderately severe £205,580 to £264,650There will be substantial dependence on others and a need for constant professional and other care.
Injured hand Severe £132,040 to £189,110Total or effective loss of both hands
Injured handSerious £52,310 to £79,360Serious damage to one hand
Injuries to the elbow Severe £36,770 to £51,460A severely disabling injury
Injuries to the ElbowLess severe £14,690 to £30,050Injuries causing impairment of function but not involving major surgery or significant disability.
Injured backSevere £36,390 to £151,070Covering a range of back injuries that could include disc lesions or fractures of discs or of vertebral bodies or soft tissue injuries leading to chronic conditions, to Cases of the most severe injury involving damage to the spinal cord and nerve roots.
Injured backModerate £11,730 to £36,390Injuries in this bracket range from injuries like a disturbance of ligaments and muscles giving rise to backache, soft tissue injuries resulting in a prolonged acceleration and/or exacerbation of a pre-existing back condition to, for instance, damage to an intervertebral disc with nerve root irritation and reduced mobility.
Injured neck Severe £42,680 to £139,210Ranging from Injuries causing fractures or dislocations or severe damage to soft tissues to neck injury associated with incomplete paraplegia
Injured neckModerate£12,900 to £36,120Covering a range of back injuries that could include soft tissue or wrenching-type injuries, fractures or dislocations which cause severe immediate symptoms and which may necessitate spinal fusion.
Injured footModerate£12,900 to £23,460As an example of an injury in this category, displaced metatarsal fracture that will, when healed, leave the foot with some kind of deformity. This would mean the victim cannot wear standard shoes, and their gait could be impaired in some way.
Injured legModerate£26,050 to £36,790In general, this category would include injuries to a single leg. The upper end of the scale would be compound fractures and serious soft-tissue injuries. While the person is recovering there could be some negative impact on their life quality.

You may also be able to find some kind of online personal injury claims calculator to get an estimate of your claim. If you would like a solicitor to value your claim accurately, you can arrange this with our claims team.

No Win No Fee Car Accident Compensation Claims

Under a No Win No Fee agreement, you will pay your solicitor’s pre-agreed fee when they have received a compensation payment for you and not before. You won’t pay a fee to have the solicitor take your claim on or while they are processing it for you. If the claim fails, you still won’t pay your solicitor their fees.

Talk To Us About Your Car Accident Claim

Have you been harmed in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault? You may be able to claim for any harm you suffered. Please contact our claims team today on 0800 073 8804. One of our claim advisors will talk you through our new claims process, answer any questions you have, and then arrange for a solicitor to begin processing your claim for you.

Supporting Resources

These external sites could contain more useful information:

Driver Responsibilities When Involved In An Accident

The Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 170

UK Government Information About Vehicle Insurance

These other guides could also help you:

Claiming For A Fatal Car Accident

How To Make A Car Park Claim

Car accident claim time limit- FAQs

How long do I have to make a personal injury claim after a car accident?

Like with other kinds of personal injury claim, such as medical negligence or accident at work claims, you can make a claim for personal injury compensation after a road traffic accident up to three years from the date of the accident.

Can I make a personal injury claim after 3 years?

Sometimes. For instance, if you weren’t mentally capable of making a claim within these three years, and a claim hasn’t been made for you by a litigation friend in that time, then the three-year time limit runs from when you regained your mental capacity and were able to claim.

What is the average payout for a car accident in the UK?

It’s impossible to say how much personal injury compensation you could be owed without knowing more about your case. Get in touch with our team today to find out more about how much you could claim.

What can be claimed for following a car accident?

A compensation award following a car accident will consist of general damages, which cover the pain and suffering you’ve experienced, and special damages which will compensate you for any financial losses.

Can I make a claim for an accident if I was at fault?

Sometimes. If you’re deemed to be partly to blame for the accident, known as “split liability”, then you may be able to claim a reduced amount of compensation owing to the role you had in the accident.

Do you have to stop after an accident?

Yes. If there’s been any injury or damage to third party property after an accident, it’s an offence not to stop.

Can a child claim for injuries in a car accident?

Yes. You can make a claim on their behalf up until the age of 18. Once they’re an adult, they can claim for three years from their 18th birthday if nobody claimed for them while they were a child.

How much do personal injury solicitors cost?

Solicitor’s fees can vary greatly. But making a personal injury claim doesn’t need to cost you a penny- with our Conditional Fee Agreement, or No Win No Fee agreement, you won’t be asked to pay until you’ve received your compensation, and you won’t pay at all if your claim is unsuccessful.

Thank you for reading our guide looking at the car accident claim time limit.

Written By Mac

Edited By Melissa.

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