How Long Do You Have To Report A Car Accident?

By Stephen Moreau. Last Updated 2nd February 2024. Welcome to our guide, which offers answers to questions such as ‘how long do you have to report a car crash?” In it, we explain how soon must you report a car accident in a number of circumstances. We also answer the question of ‘do you have to report an accident if you’re not claiming?’

If you are involved in a car accident while driving, then there are certain organisations or individuals which you might have to report this too. You may have questions about how much time you have to report a car accident, and that’s understandable. There are different time limits in place for reporting to different groups, such as the police and your car insurance provider. There’s also a separate time limit for starting a personal injury claim for any injuries or damage sustained in the car accident.

A driver involved in a car accident calls their insurance provider at the accident scene

How Soon Must You Report A Car Accident UK

While there are time limits involved for when you should report a car crash to your insurance company, these time limits can vary. Certain circumstances also influence the process of how you report a car accident. For instance, if you are reporting a hit and run car accident, then certain steps of the reporting (and any potential claim you make) will be different compared to reporting a collision with an insured driver.

So, how long do you have to report an accident to your insurance company in the UK? Details on how long you have to make your report should be included in your car insurance policy.

In this guide, we will explain more about the process behind reporting car accidents. This includes what information needs to be gathered, who you need to report different types of car accidents to and what compensation payments may follow. If you would like to speak to an advisor about making a successful car accident claim, then please contact the UK Law team today.

Get In Touch With Our Team

You can contact UK Law for free specialist advice on car accident claims. Our panel of lawyers can help with any queries you may have about reporting a car accident. And if you are considering a compensation claim following a road traffic accident, our panel of lawyers can also advise on your potential claim.

You can contact us online through our live chat service or by completing our claim online form. You can also phone us on 020 3870 4868

Services And Information

  1. How Long Do You Have To Report A Car Accident?
  2. Reporting A Car Accident – When Can I Claim?
  3. Who Do You Report A Car Accident To?
  4. Compensation Payouts For Car Accident Claims
  5. Reporting A Car Accident – How Long Do I Have?
  6. Reporting A Car Accident – Do I Need Evidence To Claim?
  7. No Win No Fee Car Accident Claims
  8. Other Information Relating To ‘How Long Do You Have To Report A Car Accident?’

How Long Do You Have To Report A Car Accident?

If you’ve been in a car accident, then you should report it to your car insurance provider as soon as you can. The wording of your policy will confirm how soon you need to report it to make an insurance claim. Many insurers will likely require you to report your car accident within 24 hours of it taking place.

A car accident should also be reported to the Police if you didn’t exchange details with the other parties involved at the time of the incident. This applies if you were unable to exchange details because another driver involved is uninsured or they left the scene without giving details in a hit and run accident.

If your car accident needs to be reported to the Police, you should do so within 24 hours of the incident.

You can contact us for free today if you would like to ask an advisor questions such as “how long do you have to report a car accident?” or “can I make a car accident claim?”

Reporting A Car Accident – When Can I Claim?

All road users owe each other a duty of care. This means they have to navigate the roads in a way that minimises the risk of damage or harm to themselves and to others. To do this, they are expected to follow the mandatory rules set out by the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Highway Code. If this duty of care is breached, and you are injured, then you may wonder whether you’re eligible to make a personal injury claim for injuries from a car accident. 

In order to do so, you must be able to prove that: 

  • Another road user owed you a duty of care
  • They failed to uphold this duty of care
  • As a result, you were injured

The rules for who must report a car accident and what such a report must include is set out in Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. It is only necessary to report a crash to the police if you didn’t exchange details with the other parties involved at the time of the incident. If this applies, you need to report to the police within 24 hours.

For more advice on reporting a car crash or your eligibility to claim for one, contact our advisors today for free.

Who Do You Report A Car Accident To?

When you report a crash on the road, there are certain entities that you should inform depending on the circumstances. For example:

  • If a road traffic accident involves your vehicle, you should notify your insurance provider. You should aim to do this as soon as possible.
  • When you cause damage to someone else’s property or vehicle and the owner is not around, leave a note telling them your name, address and registration number.
  • If the driver responsible for an incident fails to stop, you should report your accident to the police immediately if the crash blocks traffic or puts others at risk. However, you should report to the police within at least 24 hours if you have been injured.
  • When reporting a hit and run, you should let the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) know as they could help you make a claim.

Get in touch with us if you’d like any more information on what to do after a car accident. We’ll potentially be able to connect you with a road accident solicitor from our panel.

Compensation Payouts For Car Accident Claims

When making a personal injury claim after reporting a crash, your compensation settlement could include general and special damages.

General damages compensate you for the suffering and pain your injuries have caused you, both physical and psychological. When a legal professional is valuing your claim for general damages, they could refer to the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This document provides compensation guidelines for different injuries.

For the table below, we have used some of the amounts listed in the 16th edition of the JCG. Please only use it for guidance. Also note that the first and final two entries in this table are not based on the JCG.

InjuryCompensation BracketNotes
Multiple Serious Injuries And Special DamagesUp to £500,000+If you are eligible to claim for multiple injuries that are serious as general damages plus certain special damages, such as loss of earnings, then you may receive a payout that covers all of the damages related to your car accident.
Moderate Brain Damage (c) (i)£150,110 to £219,070Risk of epilepsy, effect on senses, and no prospect of employment.
Moderately Severe Psychiatric Damage (b)£19,070 to £54,830Some problems dealing with everyday life but with an optimistic prognosis.
Chest Injuries (c)£31,310 to £54,830Damage to lungs and chest with some disability.
Moderate Back Injuries (b)(i)£27,760 to £38,780Damage to intervertebral disc causing nerve root irritation and a reduction of mobility.
Moderate Neck Injuries (b) (i)£24,990 to £38,490
Immediate symptoms caused by fractures and dislocations, possibly leading to spinal fusion.
Hand Injuries (f)Up to £36,740Severe fractures of fingers.
Moderate PTSD (c)£8,180 to £23,150No disabling effects continue after recovery,
Moderate Shoulder Injuries (c)£7,890 to £12,770Frozen shoulder causing limited movement.
Whiplash Tariff 2(1)(a)£4,215A whiplash injury that lasts more than 18 months but not more than 24 months.
Whiplash Tariff 2(1)(b)£4,345A whiplash and psychological injury lasting more than 18 months but not more than 24 months.

Special damages is the head of claim that compensates you for the financial losses incurred due to your injuries. Some examples could include:

  • A loss of income.
  • Travel expenses.
  • Care costs.
  • Medical expenses.

Providing evidence of these financial losses with bank statements and invoices, for example, could help support you claim for special damages.

The Whiplash Reform Programme.

The process of how certain road traffic accident claims are made in England and Wales changed with the introduction of the Whiplash Reform Programme. You will now need to make your claim via a different avenue if you are over the age of 18 and suffered injuries valued at £5,000 or less as a driver or passenger of a vehicle.

Your whiplash injuries will now be valued in line with the tariff found in the Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021. These are fixed amounts, and we have included a few examples of them in the table above. Any additional injuries you have suffered that are not covered by this tariff will be valued traditionally.

To discuss your claim, and to learn more about when and how you should report a crash, you can contact our advisors.

Reporting A Car Accident – Do I Need Evidence To Claim? 

As well as potentially reporting a car accident, another step you could take after a road traffic accident is gathering evidence to support your claim. Evidence can help show any car accident injuries or harm you have experienced, and potentially demonstrate who was liable.

As such, you may wish to gather:

  • Your medical records, which will highlight any injuries you suffered and any treatments you have subsequently required
  • Photographs of any visible injuries, such as a broken elbow
  • The contact information of witnesses who can be asked for a statement verifying your version of events
  • If possible, CCTV footage or dash cam footage showing the accident happening

Our advisors are available 24/7 and can give you free advice on how to report an accident on the road and what evidence you can use to support your claim.

No Win No Fee Car Accident Claims

If you are eligible to make a road traffic accident claim, one of the solicitors on our panel could help you. Furthermore, they may offer you a type of No Win No Fee agreement known as a Conditional Fee Agreement.

Some of the benefits of making a claim with a No Win No Fee solicitor under this arrangement include:

  • Not having to pay them anything upfront for them to start working on your case.
  • Not having to pay any service fees to your solicitor while your claim is ongoing.
  • If your claim fails, you will not pay them for the work they have provided.

In the event that your case is successful, they will deduct a legally capped percentage from your compensation. This is known as a success fee.

To discuss your personal injury claim, and learn more about how and when to report a car accident, you can contact our advisors. They can be reached by:

Other Information Relating To ‘How Long Do You Have To Report A Car Accident?’

You can check out the resources below for more useful information on road traffic accident claims:

Thanks for reading our guide on how to report a car accident and what time limits to follow. Hopefully we have now answered the question of ‘how long do you have to report a car crash?’.