Car accidents happen at an alarming rate throughout Canada. According to the latest accident statistics released by the government, almost 155,000 people were injured in road accidents in a single year. Not all collisions result in personal injuries or fatalities, but knowing what to do when involved in a car accident and the legal requirements for reporting it in Ontario could keep you from incurring fines and other penalties. Reporting a car accident also ensures that you are protected in the event a claim is made against you or in case you have a claim for personal injuries or property damage.
A collision between two or more vehicles frequently happens suddenly and with such violence that participants, even when they do not suffer physical injuries, can be in shock and confused about what actually happened. This is why it is important to take a few minutes now to review the car accident reporting requirements and learn the steps you need to follow to protect your rights immediately after a collision.
Stopping is the most important thing to remember to do if you are involved in a car accident. Do not leave the scene of an accident particularly one in which someone has been injured.
You must call the police to report any car accident in which someone has suffered a personal injury or if the accident caused more than $2,000 in damage to property. The police operator will instruct you about what to do while awaiting arrival of the police. Reporting an accident directly to the police should also be done when one or more of the following circumstances exist:
When no one is injured in a car accident and the total amount of damage to property, including the vehicles, is less than $2,000, you are not required to call police from the scene of the accident. This does not mean you do not report the accident. You have 24 hours from the time of the collision to contact a collision reporting centre to make a written report of the collision and to have a photograph taken of any damage to your car.
Making a report of a car accident protects you against a false claim by another driver that you left the scene of an accident. The report also documents the fact that an accident occurred at a particular location at the date and time specified to protect you against an insurance company refusing to pay a claim for lack of proof of an accident.
The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident can be severe and include confinement to jail particularly in cases of accidents involving serious personal injuries. Fines could be as high as $2,000 for leaving the scene of an accident, and a judge could suspend a person’s license to drive for up to two years.
If you are unsure about the amount of damage caused by an accident or if someone has been injured, your best course of action is to call the police. There is no penalty for voluntarily reporting an accident that you were not required to report.
You might think it is not worth the bother to report what appears to be a minor collision with another vehicle, but not reporting a fender bender could have serious consequences, including:
Even though you file an accident report with the police or at a collision reporting centre, you should also contact the insurance company that insures your car. Under the terms of your policy, you must report to the company all accidents in which the insured vehicle is involved. Failing to report the accident could cause your insurance company to deny coverage for any claims and cancel your insurance policy for failing to comply with its terms.
Be safe and report all accidents to your insurer within 24 hours. This includes someone hitting your vehicle while it is parked on the street or in a parking lot. Follow the same reporting rules as you would for other types of collisions. It should go without saying that you need to report a collision in which you hit an unattended, parked vehicle.
Being dazed and confused following a collision is common and becomes worse for drivers and passengers suffering physical injuries. The first thing to do following a car accident is to try to remain calm and attempt to collect your thoughts. Some of the other things to do or avoid following an accident include:
Do not make any statements or engage in conversations about how the accident happened or the extent or nature of your injuries with drivers and occupants of other vehicles, bystanders or witnesses. The people involved in a serious car accident frequently have no idea what caused the collision. Trained accident investigators can take weeks to piece together what caused cars to crash, so the best thing to do is leave it to your lawyer to sort through the facts to determine what caused the accident.
If you are not injured, you must exchange information with the drivers of other vehicles, including:
You should also write down a brief description of what you recall about the accident, including the makes, models, colours and license numbers of the vehicles. Take pictures of the scene and include the position of the cars involved in the collision.
Get the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident. Include a brief description next to the person’s information about what was seen or heard. You should also note the names, badge numbers and agency of police officers and other emergency responders. If you discover later on that you have been injured, all of the information you record at the scene will be helpful to your lawyer in pursuing your claim for compensation.
You might not be in pain or believe you have been injured while standing at the scene of a car accident, but it is a good idea to go to a doctor as soon as possible for an examination. Some injuries, such as whiplash and concussions, might not present symptoms for hours or even days after an accident. If a physical examination discloses injuries caused by the car accident, your next call should be to a personal injury lawyer.
The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have years of experience successfully handling claims for compensation on behalf individuals injured in Ontario car accidents. Learn more about your right to recover compensation by speaking with one of our lawyers. Call the Diamond and Diamond 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We have offices located throughout Ontario offering free consultations and case evaluations to injury victims and their families
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