I have crashed the company car - what should I do?
The scenario is unfortunately a common one – you take a call from one of your employees or a fellow director who has been involved in an accident while out on company business. As an employer how do you advise them to ensure that your business and the driver comply with the law?
If one or more of the following occurs:
- anyone, other than the driver, is injured;
- another vehicle or any other property is damaged;
- an animal has been killed/injured, except in the driver's vehicle (an 'animal' means 'any horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, goat or dog).
The driver must:
- stop and remain at the scene for a reasonable period;
- give registration number, name and address, and that of the vehicle owner (if different - it could be a company car or a lease car), to anyone with reasonable grounds for asking;
- if details are not exchanged at the scene, the driver must report the accident in person at a police station or to a PC as soon as you can, and in any case within 24 hours.
Where injury is caused to another, then in addition you must also produce a certificate of insurance to anyone at the scene who has reasonable grounds to see it. If not, you must report the accident in person at a police station or to a PC as soon as you can, and in any case within 24 hours.
A failure to comply with these obligations can mean two offences are being commited: failing to stop and failing to report. You can be guilty or either or both. The penalties are an unlimited fine and 5 to 10 points. The Court can disqualify from driving and often does when both offences are commited together. For serious cases there is a maximum of 6 months' imprisonment.
Even if there is no personal injury, if someone holds you responsible for the accident, they have the right to request your insurance details. This request can be made later; it does not necessarily have to be at the time of the accident. Failure to provide that information without reasonable excuse is also an offence.
Contrary to popular belief, provided you comply with the requirements to stop, exchange information and in injury cases to produce your insurance, there is no automatic obligation to report an accident to the Police. Accordingly it is wise to keep a copy of the insurance certificate in the vehicle.
You should ensure that anyone who drives on company business (anything other than commuting to their normal place of work) aware of the law before allowing them to drive. A simple way to do this is to copy this article, ensure all drivers have rerad it, and keep a copy in their vehicle.
Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.