What To Do In The Event of A Car Accident

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It will happen to most of us at some point in our lives - we'll be involved in a car accident. This can be a very stressful time.  Hopefully it will be a minor incident with no injuries. If you are in a car accident or collision you should stay at the scene of the accident until it is safe and legal to leave. 

If the police attend the scene of the accident they will tell you when you can go.There are certain things that you should do in any collision. Here is a brief list of your obligations under the law:

  • Call 911 immediately if you think the other driver is impaired or dangerous
  • Call 911 if you or someone else is injured, or if gas is leaking, or there is fire danger
  • In Ontario all motor vehicle collisions must be reported to the police if there are personal injuries or fatalities, or where vehicle damage is over $1000. You'll be surprised how quickly damage adds up.
  • If you think the accident is staged call 911
  • If there is significant property damage, or the vehicle(s) are not driveable call 911
  • If it is safe for you to move your car to the side of the road do so, if not turn on your hazard lights or put out cones and flares
  • Regardless of the circumstances you should NEVER admit fault for the accident, sign any documents or promise to pay for damages.
  • If the police are not called then make sure you
    • Exchange the contact information of all the registered owners of cars. Write down or take a picture of their driver's licence number, insurance information, and registration.
    • Make notes on how the accident happened, of all witness names and their driver's licence numbers
    • take pictures of the damage to your car and the other car
    • make note of the weather, time of day and road condition
  • If you have any non serious injuries you should attend your doctor or emergency room immediately following the accident and tell them you have been in a car accident. They will examine you for injuries, treat you, and will establish a record for the insurance company so that you can be compensated for treatments if required and appropriate.

If you witness an accident then you are obliged under the law to stop and give a witness statement to the police, or to provide your information to the people in the accident for insurance pursposes.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada has a form that you can download and keep in your glove box. It is a quick checklist of the information you need to give and collect at the scene.