What to do after a car accident: The do’s and don’ts

For many people, spring and summer are synonymous with road trips. You may go to your cottage for a long weekend or drive somewhere delightful on a week-long road trip. But as more vacationers take to the road this spring and summer, the potential for an accident also increases.

The sad truth, according to statistics, is that most drivers will be involved in a vehicle crash at least twice during their driving lifetimes. Hopefully, in your case, the accidents will be minor fender-benders; regardless, it is important to keep in mind what to do when a collision happens so you can make sure you’re not taken advantage of.

It might be hard to think clearly after a car accident so you should plan what to do and learn what questions may need answered before the collision occurs. Knowing what to do at the scene of a collision will help you stay calm and ensure that your rights are respected.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to remember when you find yourself involved in a collision:

Do:

  • Stay calm. Check with each passenger in your vehicle to see if anyone is injured or requires medical attention.
  • If you’re able, and it is safe to exit your vehicle, check with the passengers of any other vehicle(s) involved to ensure that they too are all right. If you can’t get out of your car, turn on your hazard lights.
  • Call emergency services. In Ontario, you are required to call the police if there are any injuries or if there is more than $1,000 in damage as a result of the accident. You are also required to call the police if you suspect that another driver involved in the accident has broken the law in some way (such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol).
  • If the vehicles are not severely damaged, move them off the travelled portion of the road to facilitate traffic flow.
  • Exchange information with the other drivers involved. Get their names, addresses, phone numbers, licence information, insurance company name and policy number.
  • Obtain the contact information of any witnesses who are at the scene.
  • Take photographs of the accident, including the damage to the car and road conditions.

Don’t:

  • Move anyone who is injured – wait for medical help to arrive.
  • Stand on the road to assess damage to the vehicles. This puts you in immediate danger of being struck by passing vehicles.
  • Accept a direct offer of payment of damage from the other driver.
  • Argue with other drivers and passengers.
  • Voluntarily assume liability or take responsibility, sign statements regarding fault, or promise to pay for damage at the scene of the accident.

On its website, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario has provided an accident worksheet to help you remember what information you should record at the scene of the collision. Consider keeping a printout of this document in your glove compartment.

Safe travels this spring!

Erin Ellis
Written by

Erin Ellis is an associate with Jellinek Law Office specializing in civil litigation. Erin graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science degree (Dean's List) in 2003. She received her law degree from Queen’s University in 2007 and was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 2008.

Erin is currently a member of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, the Ontario Bar Association, and the Canadian Bar Association.

  • handling a car accident

    this was very helpful…thanks for posting