Have you ever been in a car accident and not known what to do? Well, you’re not alone! Many Canadians are guilty of not knowing how to properly react once a motor vehicle accident has occurred. Here are the basic procedures, so you’ll be prepared in the unfortunate event you’re in a car accident.
Assess the situation
The most important thing you can do when you’ve been in a car accident is to stay calm. This ensures all of the procedures to follow are completed in a calm and detailed manner.
Once you have taken a breath, it’s important to assess the situation. This means, making sure there are no injuries; that everyone involved is safe; and taking a look at the damage to all vehicles. If there are injuries noted, calling 911 is the first step. It’s also important to turn on your car’s hazard lights, especially if you are unable to get out of the vehicle.
After the safety measures have been completed, you can call a tow truck, and then move on to the process of reporting the accident.
Reporting the accident
When it comes to reporting an accident, there will be specific information required to complete the report. This includes, getting all the information about the other driver, such as their driver’s license number, names and contact, name of insurance company and policy number, the licence plate number, and car make and model. It also means making note of any damages, and getting the contact information of all the witnesses of the accident.
Taking photographs of the scene and/or damage is also recommended, as is making note of the details regarding the situation. These notes should include the weather and road conditions at the time of the accident, as well as the time and location that it occurred.
Keep in mind that it is crucial you contact the reporting center in the city where the accident took place. If you wait to report the accident when you’re home, it’s likely the reporting procedures will not be completed, as it may be out of the center’s jurisdiction.
Calling the police isn’t always necessary – especially if it’s a minor accident with minimal, if any, damage and there aren’t any injuries. But, it’s for this reason that it’s important to collect the details of all others involved.
Note: it is required by law to report any accident with a minimum combined damage of CAD $2000 within 24 hours after it has occurred. It is also a legal requirement to report an accident you think involved criminal actions, such as a driver under the influence.
What not to do
Whether you are at fault or not, there are a number of things you should not do, starting with apologizing. Doing so assumes responsibility and can actually affect the outcome of your case.
It’s also important that you never leave the scene of an accident. This can lead to criminal charges, and is important even if you think the accident and/or damage is minor.
Settling outside of insurance is always an option, but this is something to be weary of. While the driver may have good intentions there is always a risk that the at-fault driver won’t actually pay for the damages, or they will take a long time to do so. However, if you decide to go through your insurance company, be sure to get approval to have your vehicle repaired first, as well as to seek an approved collision centre.
Finally, it’s important that you don’t sign any paperwork unless it is an official accident report document. This will help to reduce any undesirable outcomes and stress that is already associated with motor vehicle accidents.