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What to do at the Scene of an Accident

Your heart’s racing. Your mind is trying to piece it all together. Heck, maybe a few cuss words are thrown around.

First things first, I know you’re likely Canadian. Not saying sorry, however, could be the smartest thing you can do financially, despite it being completely against our culture.

Take a deep breath, remain calm, focus on the details, and tell your story to the police. Make no promises; Do NOT admit fault (EVER)

We’ll get to that, to begin here’s what to do after a car accident in Ontario

Step 1 – Stop the car, secure your safety

If you’re in a car accident in Ontario and don’t stop the car, you could face criminal prosecution charges. Turn on your four-way lights (hazard lights, four-way flashers) and set up road flares if you have them. For safety, stay in your car.

Step 2 – Call the police

Regardless of who is at fault, or any damage done, the faster emergency crews can respond, the better chance of survival for all. If you’re the one who is suffering, you’d want the help, too. Practice your empathy and do the world a favor.

The 9-1-1 operator will tell you if police are required on the scene. The following is a rough guideline for when police should be present.

  • If there are injuries.

  • Should the damage to any car from the accident exceed $2,000.

  • If you suspect someone is intoxicated, either by drugs or alcohol.

For minor accidents, call the collision reporting center

If the total damage in the car accident is less than $2,000, no one is injured, and there are no signs of intoxication or other illegal activity, it’s minor. Call an Ontario collision reporting center at 416-745-3301. You can also find an Ontario location by clicking here.

Step 3 – Take photos

When safe to do so, get out of your car and start taking pictures on your cell phone. Ideally, you haven’t moved your car. The photos and descriptions from all involved drivers will help determine fault for the insurance companies. Remember, Ontario uses the no-fault insurance system. So, you’ll only deal with your insurer regarding the accident.

Step 4 – Move your car

When it’s safe, and if you can, move your vehicle to the side of the road, away from traffic. If you can’t drive your car, ensure the hazard lights are on, and your road flares are set up if you have them. You can even pop your hood.

These are all signs that there’s been an accident with passing drivers. Those drivers, due to the “ rubbernecking” will slow down to get a closer look. Unless you can walk away to a nearby sidewalk, stay in your car to keep warm. If it’s wintertime, hopefully, you have a roadside emergency kit with a blanket in it. Don’t fret, emergency crews are on the way.

Step 5 – Record the details of the accident

Record the following, in your own words. You can use your phone’s voice recorder or any note-taking app or even send yourself an email of what happened.

  • Date

  • Time

  • Weather conditions

  • Road conditions

  • Estimated speed

  • Description of the accident

  • Draw a diagram of the accident

It’s essential to get these details down in your head while they’re fresh and before talking to others who may influence your statement. Honesty is the best policy.

What do you need from the other driver involved

  • Name

  • Address

  • Phone

  • Driver’s license number (Do not take or let them take a picture)

  • Vehicle plate number

  • Vehicle make and color

  • The registered owner of the vehicle (it could be different than the driver)

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)

  • Insurance company

  • Insurance policy number & expiry

  • Damage to their vehicle

  • Number of passengers in the car

  • Names of the passengers and their positions in the car (e.g. rear driver’s side)

Step 6 – Call your car insurance company

They are there to help you. Whether you choose to file a claim or not is still up to you, unless you don’t have coverage. You must submit a report within 7 days, ideally within 24 hours. If you don’t, your insurance provider may deny your claim.

What you need to give your insurance company after a car accident

  • Your car insurance policy number

  • The Make, model, year, registration, and license plate number of your vehicle

  • Date, time, and location of the accident

  • Your description of the accident

  • The driver’s name and license number of all drivers involved

  • The registration and insurance from the owner of the car

  • Number of passengers involved

  • The extent of any injuries to all people involved (pedestrians and cyclists, too)

  • The extent of damage to your vehicle

  • Names and driver’s license numbers of all drivers involved

  • Names of insurance companies and auto insurance policies of all drivers involved

  • If the police show up, make sure to get the name and badge number of the investigating officer

What happens after a car accident?

After a car accident, you may require a tow to a collision center, depending on the state of your vehicle. It’s another great time to speak with your insurance company. Depending on your Ontario car insurance policy, you likely have OPCF27, which covers your rental car after an accident. If you have collision and comprehensive, you can waive the rental car insurance, too.

In Ontario, no-fault insurance means you’ll deal with your own car insurance company for claims and navigating through this process. In fact, while your report and the police report are critical components to assigning fault, your insurance company will have the final say. Know that you can be found partially at fault, in other words, anywhere from 0% to 100% at fault in a collision.

Check out Ontario’s fault determination rules (with diagrams) to get an idea of where you might be on the scale.

Will my insurance go up after a car accident?

If you are found at fault, generally speaking, you can expect your premiums to go up. There are exceptions, however, including if you have accident forgiveness on your policy, which means they essentially ignore the first-time accident. Keep in mind, if this is the case, it goes on your record. If you switch insurance companies, the accident may rear its ugly head and raise your premium.

But even if you’re found to be 0% at fault, your premiums might still go up. This could be due to your car insurance company raising rates. This is why it’s essential to compare car insurance and make sure you’re getting the best value.

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