A Step-by-Step Guide: What to do After an Auto Collision
Remembering exactly what you should do following a collision can be tough. Follow this guide to make sure you cover your bases.
An auto collision is a scary experience, and it can be quite disorienting for those involved. While we hope you’re never involved in one, it’s important to be prepared for the possibility if you’re going to be on the road. Keep reading to learn what steps you should take after an auto collision to ensure you’re safe and sound, both physically and legally.
Do not flee the scene
First and foremost, remain on the scene until you’ve exchanged information with the other party, or until you’ve spoken to the police if they need to be called. A hit and run is a serious offence and can make a situation go from bad to worse. If you flee the scene, you can be charged under one of two acts:
The Criminal Code of Canada
- Your hit and run charge becomes a criminal offence. Drivers are typically charged under the Criminal Code when the collision involves a pedestrian or a bicyclist.
The Highway Traffic Act
- This is a failure to remain charge and results in a traffic ticket. This is usually applied to cases where another car is involved.
Assess your safety and the safety of others
Give yourself a quick scan. Do you have any injuries? If so, call 911 if you are able. If possible, move your car to a safe location, like the shoulder of the road. If you’re not seriously injured, check on the other motorist to see if they’re in need of any medical assistance.
Determine whether you need to call 911
If you or anyone else is injured, calling EMS is the next step.
If there are no injuries, assess the damage. In Ontario, you must call the police for any collisions resulting in damages over $2,000.
If your car is driveable and there aren’t any injuries, the dispatcher may tell you to go straight to a Collision Reporting Centre. If your car isn’t driveable, a tow truck operator can take you to the nearest location.
After you’ve made sure everyone is safe, be sure to exchange information with the other party. Regardless of who was at fault, you should collect their:
- Driver’s license number
- Name and contact information
- Name of insurance provider
- Insurance policy number
- License plate number
- Details about the car (e.g. make, model, year, registration)
- The name and badge number of the investigating officer (if one was called to the scene)
You should also note down other information such as the time of the accident, where it occurred, the number of passengers involved, and what the weather conditions are. These may seem like small details, but it’ll be difficult to recall them all after the fact in the case of any dispute.
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Take photos of the damage
If it’s safe to do so, take photos of the scene and the damage to the vehicles involved. It’s important to have a visual record of the damages, whether you’re at fault or not.
If you’re at fault, you want to only pay for damages that you caused. If you’re not at fault, you want proof for your claim.
Report the accident to your insurance provider
Whether or not you’re planning to make a claim, you’ll need to report the collision to your insurance provider. If you’ve submitted a claim, you’ll be contacted by a claims adjuster who may want to visit you in person. They'll also offer up recommended repair shops and vendors if needed.
Your insurance company will use the Insurance Act and Fault Determination Rules to decide who is at fault. Keep in mind that your insurance provider can still find you at fault, even if the police don’t find you responsible.
Keep your cool, remain at the scene, and ensure everyone’s safe
Like we said, it’s our hope that you’re never involved in a collision, but it’s good to know what to do in case you are. An auto collision is a stressful situation, but the number one priority is ensuring you and everyone else is safe. Everything else – claims, repairs, legal proceedings – can be managed in due time.
Until next time, drive safe.