What Happens When you Can’t Drive after an Accident?

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By Cai Bradley

on Thursday 14 December 2017

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The chances of having a car accident of some sort at one point in your life is becoming ever more likely, largely due to the increase in the amount of cars on the roads.

The importance of knowing what to do in the event of a car crash is therefore also growing, including the knowledge of when you can (and can’t) drive your car after an accident, how to get a replacement car, and the replacement vehicles you could be entitled to.

Whether you are injured or your car has been written off, you need to know what to do when you can’t drive as a result of an accident.

Click any of the links below to skip to a section of the article:

What to do After a Car Accident

Driving After an Accident

Is my Car Worthless After an Accident?

Driving After a Crash if I’m Injured

Reporting a Minor Car Accident

Replacement Cars

What to do After a Car Accident in the UK

What happens after a car accident inevitably depends on the seriousness of the collision and any injuries.  

Immediately after an accident, the first thing you need to do is check that you and all other involved parties are not injured. If there is an injury, you must alert the emergency services as soon as possible.

For less severe injuries, you should still be sure to make an appointment with your GP - this can aid any personal injury claims, as it will provide you with official medical documentation.

If you are involved in any type of collision, it is important that you then:

  • Exchange details with other parties
  • Take photographs of the incident for claims reasons
  • Be consulted on whether your car is road-worthy
  • Contact insurers and notify them of the incident

Whether you can drive your car or not differs with each situation, as many factors determine if the vehicle is suitable and safe to use on the road.

Regardless of who is at fault in a car accident, you should always attempt to follow the appropriate steps post-accident. 

Can I Drive My Car After an Accident?

Driving your car after an accident depends on the severity of the collision, how much damage has been done to it, and whether you are fit to drive.

But in terms of the state of the car itself, you should always check the following for any damages after an accident:

  • Your headlights
  • Your wing mirrors
  • The bonnet
  • Any leaking fluid
  • Wheel alignment

Can You Drive with a Broken Tail Light?

It is illegal to drive with a broken tail light bulb, so you will need to replace any damages before you head back out on the road.

The bulb can break sometimes without visible damage to the light cover, so be sure to check that the light works after a car accident.

It’s the same case for headlights. It’s really quite dangerous to drive without headlights and you are almost certainly going to get pulled over by the police if you do so.

Also, if you happen to crash at night while you have damaged headlights, you should expect to be held liable.

Can You Drive with a Broken Wing Mirror in the UK?

Technically, there are some cases where you can drive with a broken wing mirror.

If the passenger side mirror is smashed or breaks off the vehicle, you can still legally drive as long as the other two mirrors are in working order.

Bear in mind that it is relatively dangerous to do so and we do recommend making an effort to repair any broken mirrors. 

However, if the driver’s side mirror is broken, you are not allowed to drive.

The vehicle will fail its MOT with a broken driver’s side mirror and your chances of being pulled over by the police are high.

Can You Drive with a Bent Frame?

A bent frame often occurs during heavy car collisions, but it is not the most easily noticeable damage.

To check if your car frame is bent, keep an eye out if your car doors require additional force to close or if there is irregular space at door openings. The car’s alignment will also be affected by a bent frame.

If your frame is bent but still drives in a straight line and is well aligned, it is still driveable, but we do recommend against doing so.

A bent frame lessens the strength of the vehicle, so you would be less protected if you were to crash.

Before driving away from a collision, you should always check the alignment of your wheels.

The misalignment of wheels causes the car to pull to the left or right, impacting the car’s ability to steer even when driving straight.

Problems to your wheels’ alignment can also occur as a result of hitting a kerb, driving into a large pothole or sometimes even excessive wear to the vehicle’s suspension or steering.

Other Damages to Consider After an Accident

If your bonnet is damaged, you should avoid driving as it may pop up due to accumulated air pressure.

If the bonnet rises, it will obscure your view of the road and will almost certainly cause an accident.

You should always check for any leaking fluid after a heavy contact with another vehicle or object, as this can be a sign of more serious interior damage.

You can sometimes drive a damaged car, but conditions apply which make it difficult to tell without seeing the car. We advise that you always get your car checked over by a professional, and any damaged repaired as soon as possible.

Is my Car Worthless After an Accident?

After most accidents, which tend to be minor, your car is far from worthless.

However, if you are involved in a more serious incident and your car has been written off (totalled), it is considered to be economically unsustainable by your insurance company.

The costs of repairs are basically too expensive in relation to the car’s value.

Car insurance companies deem the costs of repairs to be uneconomical if they are the equivalent to around 50% or more of your car’s value.

It’s not all bad news though, as you can sometimes receive a payout in the event of a write-off. This amount can usually cover the costs of replacing your car with a similar model and in similar condition.

If your car is likely to be written off, the police will probably let you know at the time of the accident, but you should always get your car checked out by professional mechanics in the event of a crash.

Can I Drive my Car After a Crash if I’m Injured?

In serious incidents, which we hope you never experience, you will be transferred to hospital via an ambulance and your vehicle is likely to be towed away.

In accidents where your car is driveable but you have still been injured, you should (and will be advised to) avoid driving. Try to organise a lift from a family member or friend, and the car can be taken care of by someone else that’s insured on the car or the authorities if needs be.

Remember, regardless of whether you’re injured or not, you should never drive away from an accident and it’s actually illegal to do so. Always stop after an accident, no matter how minor it is.

If you are injured as a result of a car accident, we are able to provide you with a personal injury claims service on a No Win No Fee basis.

The amount you are compensated generally depends on the severity of your injuries, so check out our quick and easy payouts guide for an idea of how much each injury can pay out.

 Are You Supposed to Move Your Car After an Accident?

After most minor accidents, where the fault is clear and obvious, you can move the car off the road and out of the way of traffic in order to avoid causing large queues or other potential accidents.

However, more serious accidents can be complex so you should wait until photographs have been taken and the emergency services have arrived if possible.

Whether it’s a serious accident or not, it’s worth taking photographs of the incident before moving the vehicles, just to be on the safe side.

Reporting a Minor Car Accident in the UK

In the UK, you are expected to – and required to – report any car accidents that you are involved in to both the police and your car insurance company.

Reporting a Car Accident to Police

If you are involved in a car crash in the UK, the Road Traffic Act states that you are legally obliged to report any accident to the police within a time limit of 24 hours.

You can do so by ringing the standard ‘999’ emergency number for serious instances, and ‘101’ for non-emergencies.

As the driver of a vehicle in an accident you are required to give your name and address to the other parties involved.

If – for whatever reason – a driver refuses to or fails to provide their details, it is expected that you give the police a call in order to let them know.

Reporting a Car Accident to your Insurance Company

How long you have to report a car accident to your insurance company depends on who your policy is with.

Most insurers include a policy that notes how long you have to inform them of an accident, which is usually 24 hours.

In terms of claiming for an accident, if you are injured or want to claim the costs of repairing your vehicle back, you will need to begin the claim within one to three years - starting from the date the accident happened.

Getting a Replacement Car

If you are unable to drive your car, whether it is in need of repairs or is completely written off, we can provide you with a replacement vehicle.

Through a non-fault claim with us a Non Fault Claims, you may be eligible to a credit hire vehicle.

For all types of road traffic accident advice, use our service today by giving us a call or completing our short contact form.

0808 1454275

Non Fault Claims can help you begin your potential claim, get in touch today!

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