What To Do After an Auto Accident in Ontario
No one plans to get into a vehicle accident, but knowing what to do if it does happen prepares us for the worst. But what happens if you find yourself in an accident? Do you know what to do? Many people who get into their first vehicle accident are unsure how to report it. Are they supposed to call the police? Should they move their vehicle or leave it where it is? Are they allowed to speak to the other driver at all? When do they fill out an accident report, or maybe not? Should you call your insurance company immediately or wait? Here are a few answers to your questions to help make this process as smooth as possible.
Remain at the scene
Each driver involved in an accident must remain at the scene or return to it immediately and give all possible assistance. If you are not personally involved in the accident, it would be a good idea to stop to offer help if police or other officials have not arrived. However, this is not mandatory under the law and is not recommended if the situation is unsafe.
If there are no personal injuries
Let’s begin with being involved in an accident if there are no personal injuries. These minor accidents are often referred to as a ‘fender bender.’ If you can move the vehicle, move the vehicle as far off the road as possible, such as a parking lot or off to the side of a gas station. This can help you, the other driver, and even the police if they must arrive at the scene and do their job safely without risking being injured by a passing vehicle. This would be an important step on any main road where traffic constantly passes you.
If the vehicle is not drivable
If the vehicle is not drivable, such as it won’t start or the wheel mechanisms are damaged, it would be a good idea to warn approaching drivers that your vehicle is disabled in a live lane. This can be done by putting on the 4-way flashers or hazard lights. Raising the hood of your vehicle can also help approaching drivers spot your vehicle earlier from behind since it’s easier to spot over the roof of other vehicles.
It’s also a good idea to turn off the engine as well. Any disabled vehicles in a live lane on the road may be dangerous to you and other road users. Do whatever you can to ensure everyone involved in an accident, including your passengers, is safe.
Report to the police
According to the law, anyone involved in a vehicle accident must report it to the police if injuries or damage to vehicles or property exceed $2,000. This damage is not just to your vehicle. It includes everything which was damaged. However, once the police are called, they may ask you to go to a collision reporting center if your community has one. From there, they will make a full report and take needed photos of any vehicle damage.
Record the details
Record the details of the accident, including when, where, and how it happened, time, date, location, speed of your vehicle, road, and weather conditions. Take a picture or video of the accident scene showing the position and direction of the vehicles. If there are any witnesses other than passengers, get their name and phone number.
You are legally required to exchange information with the driver of the other vehicle involved if there is one. This includes giving your name and address, which can be found on your driver’s license, the ownership of the vehicle, and the insurance slip. Contact information, such as a phone number, would also be recommended. To keep things simple and organized, take a photo of their driver’s license, vehicle ownership, and insurance slip. This prevents the mistake of copying down something incorrectly.
Speaking of photos, it would also be a good idea to take pictures of the damage. Attempt to get the other vehicle’s license plate in with the picture of the damage. This may be useful later on if needed.
If your vehicle is not drivable and must be towed, get the name and licence number of the tow truck operator and/or company and ensure you know exactly where your vehicle is being towed. There may be added charges if they take it to a storage yard. If you want it taken to your regular service centre or a body shop, let them know that before they drive away.
It will also be a good idea to contact your insurance company as soon as possible if you intend to make a claim. Once the police are notified, the police accident report goes to your insurance company, so keep that in mind if the damage is minimal and you want to avoid going through insurance.
Any personal injury from a vehicle accident must be reported to the police. Unless it’s a severe injury, calling the local police number instead of 911 would be recommended. If they are severely injured or unconscious, 911 is your best bet. If you want to help anyone injured, do your best, but ensure you are not doing anything you have not been trained to do. It’s best to leave that for someone trained, like the paramedics, who should be called to the scene. Stay with injured people until help arrives so you can provide updates.
As tough as it may seem after being involved in a vehicle accident, try to remain as calm as possible. Avoid arguing with other drivers and their passengers. Do not voluntarily assume you caused the accident or promise to pay for damage at the accident scene. Let the police or your insurance company assign fault.
In Ontario, there is no-fault insurance, which means you’ll deal with your own car insurance company for any claims. While your report of the accident and the police report are important to assigning fault, your insurance company will make that determination.
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