a man checking a car's engine

Can I Drive My Car After An Accident?

November 21, 2023

After an accident, you might be wondering how long you have to wait before you can get back behind the wheel. While there’s no fixed answer to this question, it’s important to consider the extent to which your car has been damaged, as well as any physical injuries you may have sustained during the crash itself.

So, when can you drive your car again after an accident? While it’s important to take time for repairs and any necessary physical recovery, we know how important it is to have a vehicle for work and family commitments, and we understand that you’re likely eager to get driving again. So, let's take a look at the steps you should take before making this decision.

Assessing the Damage

Before you can get back behind the wheel, it’s important to take a moment to assess the damage on your vehicle. Is it a small dent or something more significant? The level of damage will largely determine whether your car is safe to drive. And don’t forget that what might seem minor could actually represent underlying issues, so you need to inspect your car thoroughly before getting back onto the road.

Before deciding to drive to leave the site of the crash, evaluate your vehicle’s condition:

  • Inspect for leaks.
  • Check the tires and wheels.
  • Ensure lights and indicators work.
  • Confirm you have clear visibility.

If you're in any doubt about the car's safety, it's best to avoid driving it and call for an emergency mechanic instead.

Reporting the Accident

In the UK, it's important to report certain types of car accidents, especially if there's significant damage or injury involved. Even if you believe the accident is not your fault, reporting it can be crucial for insurance and legal purposes; always file a police report within 24 hours for serious or severe car accidents.

The Role of Insurance

Next, you’re going to want to get in touch with your insurance provider as soon as possible. Most policies will cover the cost of towing if your car is not drivable and may offer a replacement vehicle, which is a much better option than risking your health on the road.

Getting Your Car Repaired

a beat up rusted car

Once your car is back at home, you’ll want to get a mechanic to inspect it for any signs of internal damage or malfunction. If your car is towed, mechanics at the garage will inspect the motor for any underlying problems, and will conduct safety checks to ensure it’s safe for you to drive. If you drove back from the scene of the crash yourself, you can hire a mechanic to come to your home for an inspection.

Will My Car Insurance Pay for Repairs?

Usually, your car insurance will pay for any repairs incurred to your vehicle during a car accident, provided that you’re not at fault. But do be aware of time limits: generally, you have up to three years from the date of the accident to initiate a claim. However, starting the process as early as possible is always advisable to ensure all details are fresh and evidence is readily available.

The Bottom Line

Deciding whether or not to drive your car after an accident hinges on several factors - from assessing the extent of damage to understanding your legal obligations. When in doubt, always prioritise safety: report the accident as required, and consult with your insurance provider to understand the best course of action for your vehicle. And if there's any doubt about your car's roadworthiness, always opt for a professional inspection for peace of mind.


How can I tell if my car is safe to drive after an accident?

After an accident, check for leaking fluids, tire damage, and ensure that all lights and indicators are working. Also, make sure there is no obstruction to your visibility. If you're unsure, it's safest to have your car inspected by a professional.

Do I have to report every car accident to the police in the UK?

Not every accident needs to be reported, but if there's any injury, a hit and run, significant damage, or obstruction caused by the accident, it must be reported to the police within 24 hours.

What should I do if the accident was minor and there are no injuries?

If the accident is minor and there are no injuries, exchange information with the other driver, assess your vehicle for safety, and report the accident to your insurance company. You should usually be able to drive your car, but give it a quick inspection just in case.

Can I claim for repairs if the accident was not my fault?

Yes, if the accident is not your fault, you can claim repairs from the at-fault driver's insurance. Usually, your insurance company will help handle this process.