Imagine the scenario: You’re driving along when, out of nowhere, the unexpected happens, and you’re involved in a collision. Would you know what to do next?
Steps to take
after a car accident
Being in a car accident can be a traumatic event, but knowing the steps to take immediately after might help make it a less stressful experience for you and those involved.
Stay at the scene
Fleeing the scene of an accident can result in criminal prosecution, so stay put until you’ve exchanged information with the other driver(s) and have called the police, if necessary.
While at the accident scene, it’s necessary to remain calm and handle the situation in a proper manner:
- Turn off your vehicle, and put on your hazard lights.
- If you are able to, check to see if anyone involved in the accident is injured.
- If no one is hurt and it’s safe to do so, move your vehicle to the side of the road, out of the way of traffic. If it’s not safe or possible to drive your car, keep your hazard lights on and/or use the warning triangles or cones in your emergency kit to warn other drivers your vehicle is there.
- Before any vehicles are moved, take photos, or make a sketch of the accident, showing the position of the vehicles and the damage.
- At the accident, do not admit to being at fault or take any responsibility for what happened. Avoid discussing the event with anyone other than the police or your claims agent. Don’t sign any papers or statements regarding such or those promising to pay for any damages.
Get the facts when purchasing auto insurance >>
Contact the authorities
- Call 911 immediately if anyone is hurt.
- Call 911 or the police if the other driver(s) appears to have been drinking or is guilty of another criminal code offence, if there is significant damage to the vehicles involved or if there is damage to other property. Keep in mind that it’s difficult to determine what significant damage is, as the cost to repair even a small amount of visible damage can add up very quickly.
- When in doubt, call the police, and let them decide whether they will come out to the accident scene. Follow any instructions they give you.
- In a minor accident where the police aren’t required at the scene, you still might need to file an accident report with the police to document what happened and ensure your insurance provider will process your claim.
Make note of the accident details, and gather all pertinent information
There’s a lot of information to record after a collision has occurred. You need to write down the specific details of the event, including the following:
- Time, date and exact location
- A detailed description of what happened, including the speeds of the vehicles involved
- The road and weather conditions at the time
- Driver names, phone numbers and registration and insurance information, such as licence plate numbers, car owners’ names, insurance companies and policy numbers from those involved as well as the contact information for passengers and witnesses
Be sure to call your insurance provider or claims line as soon as possible to report the accident. To assist you with this process, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has a printable online collision report form to keep in your vehicle that can be filled out in the event of an accident.
What do you think is the most important thing to do after a collision? Leave a comment below.