Know Your Legal Obligations and Rights In Case of a Car Accident - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Know Your Legal Obligations and Rights In Case of a Car Accident


What to do and say following a car accident might not be something on the mind of the average Ontario motorist. A safety-conscious driver is probably not thinking about being involved in a collision. However, according to a report produced by the Ministry of Transportation in Toronto, almost 65,000 vehicles were involved in collisions on Ontario roadways resulting in personal injury or death in a single year. Drivers who know their legal obligations in advance might avoid legal issues and criminal penalties when an accident happens.

Penalties for failing to remain at the scene

The first thing drivers need to know about automobile accidents is their obligation under the law to remain at the scene. Failing to remain is an offence punishable under the Criminal Code of Canada and the Highway Safety Act of Ontario. The Ontario law imposes on drivers the following legal obligations:

  • Remain at the scene
  • Give aid and assistance to anyone in need of it
  • Offer their name, address, licence number and place it was issued, and insurance information to police, other motorists and victims injured or suffering losses due to the accident
  • Provide the name and address of the owner of the vehicle if it is not the driver

A violation of the Highway Safety Act is punishable by fines up to $2,000, imprisonment and the loss of the individual’s licence to drive.

Failing to stop and remain at the scene of an accident is also a violation of section 252 of the Criminal Code of Canada. According to the code, it is an offence for any person in control of an automobile that is involved in an accident to leave the scene of an accident with another person, vehicle or cattle under the control of another person. The penalty for a violation could be up to five years imprisonment. If a driver leaves the scene knowing that someone was injured, the penalty on conviction can be imprisonment for up to 10 years. The penalty can be life imprisonment if there was a death.

What happens after the collision?

It is common for drivers and passengers to be dazed or confused following the sudden impact associated with a crash. Once the vehicle stops, among the things a driver should do are the following:

  • In cases of injuries or property damage exceeding $2,000:  The Financial Services Commission of Ontario recommends calling the police following any accident in which property damage exceeds $2,000, someone is injured or when a person suspects another driver of violating the law, such as driving under the influence. When there are no apparent injuries and property exceeding $2,000, drivers have 24 hours to contact a Collision Reporting Centre to make a report.
  • Safety first: Drivers should not exit or move their vehicles unless it is safe to do so. If someone is injured or a vehicle cannot be operated, drivers should turn on their vehicle’s hazard lights and move to a safe place away from traffic.
  • Exchange information: Drivers should exchange individual contact information, vehicle and insurance information, and other data as required under the law.
  • Insurance reports: As soon as possible following an accident, drivers should contact their insurance company to report the accident.

One thing drivers should not do at the scene of an accident is make statements assuming liability for causing the collision. Saying “I’m sorry” to another driver could be used in court as an acknowledgement of liability.

Contact experienced personal injury lawyers

The lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have experience representing individuals involved in automobile accidents. Contact our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone about your rights and obligations following an accident. Consultations are free, and we handle cases throughout Ontario.

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