What to Do After a Car Accident

If you’ve come across this page because you just got into a car accident and you don’t know what to do, stay calm. If anyone at the scene of the car accident has been injured, call 9-1-1, tell the operator you need an ambulance, say where you are and that there’s been a car accident. Then let them ask you whatever else they need to know. After the operator has ended the call, come back here.

After a Car Accident: Safety First

  1. If anyone is injured, do not move them, and help them to stay calm.
  2. Get out of the car if it’s safe, and stay out of the way of on-coming traffic.

Documenting the Car Accident and Calling Police

  1. If your car accident is NOT an emergency, and the damage appears to be greater than $1,000 (though the Financial Services Commission of Ontario says $2,000), then call the police via your local number.
  2. If no one has been injured, and the damage is minimal, call a local Collision Reporting Centre instead of the police. At the time of writing, I couldn’t find a comprehensive list online for Ontario, but a quick online search on your phone should help you find one.
  3. Take pictures of the car accident with your camera if you can and if it’s safe to do so. However, don’t stand on the road to assess the damage. The last thing you want to do is get hit yourself.
Taking photos of car accident
Taking photos of the car accident

Clear the Roadway If Possible

  1. If your car is driveable, move it out of the way of traffic. If it can’t be driven, turn on your hazard lights and set up cones, warning triangles, or flares as necessary to warn oncoming vehicles. These items should be in your emergency kit.
Warning triangles should be a part of your emergency kit
Warning triangles should be a part of your emergency kit

Communicate & Record

  1. Exchange information with any other drivers involved in the accident and witnesses at the scene who saw what happened. The FSCO has an accident worksheet. If you’re reading this at home or work, print out a copy now and store it in your glove compartment.
  2. When speaking with the other driver, do not apologize, accuse, or get angry. Insurance companies determine who is at fault, and admitting anything can affect your claim.
  3. Call your insurance company as soon as possible: They will let you know what the next steps in their process are.
Marking the accident with cones
Marking the accident with cones

Dealing with a car accident is never any fun. The effects of it can range from ruining your day to changing your life. But in the moments after the car accident, staying calm as you follow the above steps may be the best thing you can do.

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