Motor vehicle collisions are traumatic. It's not uncommon to feel overwhelmed, scared and confused following a crash. If you've been involved in a car accident, it's important to remain calm and remember that your safety and the safety of other people are the top priority.
Below are some general steps to help you navigate the immediate aftermath of a car crash.
Stay at the scene
No matter who's at fault, stay at the scene if you were involved in an accident. Failure to remain at the scene, to give your name and address, and to offer assistance if any person has been injured or appears to require assistance may lead to criminal charges.
If you were involved in a car crash and the other driver attempts to flee the scene, try to write down, take a picture or record the plate number of the vehicle fleeing. Also, write down characteristics that may assist in identifying the driver.
Call the authorities
Drivers in Ontario are required to call 911 and report a motor vehicle collision if:
- among all the vehicles involved, the damages exceed $2,000; or
- someone is injured or dead; or
- a pedestrian or cyclist is involved; or
- the situation involves criminal activity (e.g. DUI, hit-and-run); or
- a driver does not have insurance; or
- a government vehicle is involved; or
- a vehicle transporting dangerous goods is involved; or
- the collision caused significant traffic blockages; or
- damage was caused to private, municipal or highway property.
If none of these conditions exist, you can generally report a car crash at a Police Collision Report Centre.
Parties involved in a motor vehicle collision must exchange information. The government of Ontario has available an Accident Worksheet listing what information drivers should exchange. At a minimum, obtain the other driver's full name, home address, vehicle plate number, driver's license number, car insurance company, car insurance policy number and name and address of the owner's vehicle.
It is also useful to obtain the name and contact information of witnesses.
If possible, take pictures or video to record any vehicle damage and bodily injuries.
Report the accident to your insurance company
Regardless of who's at fault, report the car crash to your insurance company. Usually, insurance companies require you to do so within seven days to qualify for accident benefits.
Seek medical attention
You should seek medical attention after a collision. The shock of being involved in a car crash and the subsequent adrenaline rush can increase your body's threshold for pain and mask the true extent of your injuries. It is crucial to get the assistance of health professionals.
Car accidents can be incredibly stressful events, leaving drivers scared, confused and overwhelmed. Prioritizing the safety of those at the scene is paramount. And though it may be difficult, remaining calm is crucial following a crash. If you've been involved in a motor vehicle accident, don't wait to contact a lawyer who can help ensure your legal rights are protected.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.