Evidence about damage and losses
If your car was damaged in an accident and you wish to make a claim, you will need to identify the damage and losses caused by the accident and collect evidence.
Damage and losses resulting from an accident can include:
- the cost of repairing the car, or the 'written-off' value of your car
- the cost of towing the car
- the value of personal items damaged in the accident
- the reasonable cost of hiring a replacement vehicle
- lost income.
There are a number of different types of evidence you can collect to show the damage and loss resulting from a car accident.
Your notes about the accident
It is a good idea to write down exactly what happened in the accident and what damage and/or loss you or the other driver suffered while it is still fresh in your mind. You could make a note or write a diary entry.
You should keep a record of the following information:
- the area of your car that was damaged, for example, the rear passenger door panel
- the type of damage, for example, a 10cm long scratch which removed the paint
- any loss, for example, broken vase that was in the boot
- the area of the other driver's car that was damaged
- the type of damage to the other driver's car
- any loss the other driver told you about at the time, if any
- any other relevant details.
You can use this information:
- to make or respond to a claim
- when trying to resolve the claim with the other driver or insurer, or
- to prepare a statement as evidence if you end up going to Court.
If there were witnesses to the accident, you will need their contact details. If you were not able to get these at the scene of the accident, but the police were there, you may be able to get this information from the police.
For more information about getting information from the police, see Identifying the other party.
After the accident you can contact the witnesses and ask them to prepare and sign a statement about the accident. You can't force a witness to give you a statement. If the case goes to Court, you may be able to serve the witness with a subpoena which orders them to give evidence.
The witness might be able to provide a statement about:
- which part of your car and the other driver's car came into contact as a result of the accident
- whether they noticed any damage to the cars
- any problems they noticed as a result of the damage, for example, if you were unable to open your door to get out of the car, if they noticed leaking oil or other fluid, or if you were unable to indicate because your indicator light was smashed.
Instructions: Instructions for preparing witness statements - car accidents
Sample: Witness statement - car accidents
It is a good idea to take photos of the damage to your car, to the other car, and any other damaged property.
You could take photos with your mobile phone or camera.
If you had a dash cam installed in your car that recorded the accident or you were cycling and you were wearing a body cam, the footage and what you record afterwards could be used to explain the circumstances of the accident, and how much damage was caused by the collision.
Sketch of the scene
You should make a sketch of how the accident happened, showing the point of collision. You can include the following:
- name of the street and cross streets, if any
- position of your car
- position of the other driver's car
- position of any other cars, for example parked cars
- trees, kerbs, or crossings
- lanes and lane direction
- width of the street
- traffic lights
- street signs, for example stop signs
- any other relevant details.
You could neatly label the sketch or you could use a key to show what your picture refers to.
If the accident resulted in damage that requires specialist repairs, or the mechanics that you and the other driver visit have very different views about the extent of the damage and the cost of repairs, it may be useful to get an expert report. An expert can comment about whether the impact from the accident is responsible for the damage and whether it is likely that the damage existed before the accident.
You should get legal advice about whether an expert report could be useful in your situation.
Expert reports may be expensive. If you get an expert report the author of the report may also need to come to Court and give evidence about what they wrote. You should check how much the expert will charge for the cost of the report and any Court attendance.
You should get quotes for the cost of repairing the damage caused to your vehicle. If you make a claim against the other driver for your damage you will need this evidence to prove the exact amount it will cost to repair your car.
If the other driver makes a claim against you for the cost of repairs to their vehicle, you can take a copy of their quote to a mechanic and ask for their opinion about whether the cost is reasonable.
For more information, see Getting repair quotes.
Car hire costs
If it was necessary to hire a car whilst your car was being repaired, you may be able to claim 'reasonable car hire costs'. It can be difficult to know what is considered a 'reasonable cost' for hiring a replacement vehicle or for loss of the use of a vehicle. When considering what is reasonable you should think about whether:
- the hire car reasonably meets your needs - you could compare cars by looking at what you use your vehicle for, for example, work or domestic purposes and determine whether the replacement vehicle meets such needs
- the amount of time the hire car has been used is reasonable - if it took two weeks to fix a damaged car, it may be reasonable to hire a car for two weeks
- it may be also be necessary for you to explain why it was not reasonable for you to use a less expensive means of transport such as public transport.
Usually costs for time taken off work, for example to organise repairs or to attend Court, can't be claimed.
However, if a vehicle is used to earn income, for example, a delivery van, it may be possible to make a claim for lost wages or profit. This is called a demurrage claim.
You should get legal advice before making a demurrage claim or if the other driver in an accident has made a demurrage claim.
Invoices and receipts
Make sure you get invoices and receipts for any expenses or loss you experienced as a result of the accident such as towing fees, loss of personal items, loss of use of your vehicle and replacement vehicle hire costs.
If you make a claim against the other driver for your losses you will need this evidence to prove the exact amount of the loss.