Even the most careful drivers may find themselves involved in a car accident: in fact, 1 in 3 Canadians will be in an accident at some point in their lives. As disconcerting as the experience may be, when you are involved in a minor collision there is a sequence of events that you should follow to ensure your safety, comply with the law, and minimize your risk. Below are the steps you should take in the wake of an accident.
- Stop and remain calm. It is imperative that you stop when you have been in a collision, even if it is minor. If you do not stop, you may be subject to criminal prosecution. At the same time, as difficult as it may be, attempt to remain calm. Remaining calm will allow you to properly work through the remaining steps and gather the information you need.
- Assess whether you should call the police. There are instances where you are required by law in Ontario to file an accident report with the police. If someone is injured in the collision, you should immediately call 911. You need to immediately report the accident to the police when:
- The damage between the vehicles involved is greater than $2,000.
- Someone involved in the accident is injured
- The accident involves a government vehicle
- The collision involves a driver without car insurance
- The collision involves a criminal act, such as DUI
- The accident involves a pedestrian
- Damage has been caused to private or municipal property
- If it is safe to do so, get out of your car to check if the passengers in the other cars are injured. If you are able to safely get out of your car, you should also take pictures of the scene.
- If it is safe, move your car to the side of the road. If your vehicle cannot be moved, put on your hazard signals.
- Exchange information with the other driver and write down important information including drivers license numbers; drivers’ names and contact information; insurance policy numbers; license plate numbers; and names of the car insurance companies. Also write down key details about what happened in the course of the accident and what the outcomes were.
- If you do not file an accident report at the scene, go to the nearest Collision Reporting Centre to fill out a report.
- Call your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident to report what happened and to seek their advice on next steps.
As scary as accidents can be, following these steps will assist you to ensure that you comply with legal requirements and ensure the safety of all involved. If you have any questions about the process of reporting an accident, your insurance broker can help to ensure that you have followed the necessary steps.