We’d all like to think we know just what to do in the event of a car accident, but do we really? If you have a catastrophic vehicle collision that totals the car or causes serious injury or death, you probably know to call the police or an ambulance. But what if you’re involved in a minor car accident? What do you do then?
What counts as a minor accident?
The first question is to consider what exactly counts as a “minor” accident. According to Ontario law, if your accident didn’t cause any damage or if all the damage to all the property involved is likely to be less than $2,000, you don’t need to file an accident report.
If someone is injured, however, you must report it. If the accident involves a pedestrian, even if it seems no one was hurt, you must report it. If you or another driver were driving uninsured, if the accident involved a government vehicle, or a person was committing a crime at the time of the accident, you must report it.
What if I don’t report?
If the accident is not minor, it is important to report it. You might be charged with leaving the scene of an accident if you don’t, and that could involve fines, jail time, and a suspended license, depending on the circumstances.
You have to report qualifying accidents within 24 hours, but even if you missed that window, it’s smarter to go ahead and report the accident late rather than to keep waiting.
What should I do first?
Immediately after any accident, make sure no one is hurt (call emergency services if they are), stay at the scene until you know what’s going on, and then, if safe, move your car out of the road. Assuming none of these apply and your accident is minor, there are other steps to take next.
Call the police
Ring up the closest police station and ask them for reporting instructions. They may send someone out, or they may tell you to report to the local Collision Reporting Centre. You will need to do this in person with 24 hours.
Exchange information with the other driver, including names and contact info, license and license plate numbers, and insurance policy information. You should also note down everything you remember about what was happening when the accident occurred, including weather and road conditions.
Unfortunately, there are people who will try to take advantage when accidents happen. Other times, an accident may seem minor and you only find out later that you’ve actually been injured. It’s always smart call an injury lawyer Toronto and find an experienced advisor to keep you safe.
Take care of your car
If you have minor damage, you can usually drive your car away and get paintless dent repair or other minor work done on your own time. Sometimes, though, even a minor accident renders a car temporarily undriveable.
To minimize the chance of falling prey to any towing scam, be sure to have your vehicle towed to the Collision Reporting Centre and check the fees. In Toronto, a tower cannot charge you more than $250 for a tow.
Do I have to file an insurance claim?
You don’t have a requirement to file an insurance claim, but it’s a misconception that any accident claim will always result in higher premiums. This is not necessarily the case, though, and at any rate, most policies require you to report any accident, even if it is minor and you pay out of pocket.
If you don’t report your claim to your insurance company, there is always a risk that the other driver will report the accident and your insurance company will find out anyway. If that happens, it makes you look like the guilty party. Get everything taken care of quickly and your minor car accident will be resolved before you know it.