What to do when accidents happen
Duty to stop
The Road Traffic Ordinance provides as follows:
“Where, owing to the presence of a vehicle on a road, an accident occurs whereby-
- personal injury is caused to a person other than the driver of that vehicle; or
- damage is caused to
i) a vehicle other than that vehicle or a trailer drawn thereby;
ii) an animal other than an animal in or on that vehicle or a trailer drawn thereby; or
iii)any other thing not being in or on that vehicle or a trailer drawn thereby,
the driver of that vehicle shall stop.”
A driver must stop whenever there is an accident causing damage to another vehicle or anything (for example, if you crashed into a lamp post), irrespective of whether any other person is injured.
Duty to give particulars
The Road Traffic Ordinance impose a duty to give particulars in the case of accidents involving another vehicle or anything. Such particulars include the driver’s name and address, the vehicle owner’s name and address, and the vehicle’s registration mark. It should also be noted that this duty is imposed on the driver personally. Therefore, the driver cannot leave the scene and just ask a passenger of the vehicle to give the necessary particulars.
Duty to report
This driver should comply with the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap.374 of the Laws of Hong Kong), which requires that if "the driver of the vehicle for any reason does not give the particulars mentioned in subsection (2), he shall report the accident in person at the nearest police station or to any police officer as soon as reasonably practicable, and in any case not later than 24 hours after the accident." Therefore, the driver in this situation must report the incident in person to a police as soon as reasonably practicable.
Incidental to the duty to stop, to give particulars and to report the accident to the police, the law also lays down a duty to preserve evidence in the case of a serious accident.The Road Traffic Ordinance prescribes that if there is an accident "in consequence of which any person is killed or seriously injured or serious damage is caused to any vehicle or thing, any person who without the authority of a police officer moves or otherwise interferes with any vehicle involved in the accident or any part of any such vehicle or does any other act which destroys, alters or conceals any evidence of the accident commits an offence".
Notifying an insurer
In Hong Kong there is no law that compels drivers to report an accident to their insurers. As a matter of fact, most parties involved in minor accidents would simply resolve the disputes by way of mutual agreement without involving their insurers. However, most vehicle insurance policies require vehicle owners to immediately report an accident to the insurance company if they intend to claim damages under their policy. Drivers involved in an accident should therefore duly consider whether it is in their best interest to report the case to their insurers.