Legal obligations after a motor vehicle accident

The driver of every vehicle involved in an accident must:

  • Stop at the scene of the accident
  • Give their details including their name and address, the name and address of the vehicle’s owner, and the vehicle's registration number (or any other information necessary to identify the vehicle) to any other driver involved, any person injured (or their representative) or the owner of any property that has been damaged.

[Australian Road Rules reg 287(2)]

If any of the following circumstances apply, the driver must also report these details to police as soon as possible within 24 hours [reg 287(3)]:

  • If anyone is injured or killed in the accident
  • If you have not given your details to each person as above
  • If you have not been given the details of the other driver
  • If a vehicle is towed or carried away by another vehicle
  • If a fair estimate of the cost of repairing damage to property (other than to your own vehicle or property) is $3000 or more [see Road Traffic (Road Rules – Ancillary and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2014 (SA) reg 39, 40, 41 and 42]

Therefore if you have a minor accident where both drivers exchange details, no one is injured and the cost of repairing damage to the other vehicle or property is likely to be less than $3000, then there is no legal obligation upon you to report it to police. However, even though you may not be obligated to report, it is good practice to do so anyway. This is because insurers often ask drivers for a police report number. To deal with the large numbers of such reports, SAPOL now has an Online Collision Reporting System to allow drivers to report crashes where there is no legal obligation to do so (ie no one is injured and the cost of repairing damage to the other property is likely to be less than $3000). When assessing the likely cost of repairing damage that has been caused, this includes damage to other property (such as a fence) as well as the other vehicle(s) involved.

Additional obligations where accident causes injury or death

If someone is injured or killed then the driver of every vehicle involved in an accident must:

  • stop immediately at the scene of the accident
  • immediately give all possible assistance
  • within 90 minutes of the accident, present themselves to a police officer to give particulars of the accident and submit to any test for alcohol or drugs

[Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 43]

As soon as practicable after an accident involving injury or death, contact the approved CTP insurer of the vehicle. As of 1 July 2016 there are four insurance companies providing CTP insurance in South Australia (AAMI, Allianz, QBE and SGIC). They will send forms which must be filled in and returned. Allocation of an approved insurer is automatic for all registered vehicles in South Australia. If you do not know the name of your allocated CTP insurer you can contact the Compulsory Third Party regulator (1300 303 558).

It is an offence not to provide written notice of the accident to the insurer. The penalty for this offence is a fine of up to $1 250, or imprisonment for up to 3 months [see Motor Vehicles Act 1959 (SA) s 124].

For further details about the offences that may be committed when a person fails to comply with these and other duties, see CRIMINAL AND TRAFFIC OFFENCES - Traffic Offences -Driving Offences -Offences and Duties after Accidents.

Legal obligations after a motor vehicle accident  :  Last Revised: Thu Jul 14th 2016
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.
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