What to Do After an Accident

What to Do After an Accident

After an Accident Happens

Canadians have a reputation for being overly apologetic. In fact, it’s been shown that citizens of the Great White North will often apologize even when the person they’re talking to is clearly in the wrong. Did the Tim Hortons server get your double-double order wrong? You probably said “Sorry” when asking for a replacement. Was it raining in Toronto on the day when your out-of-town visitor arrived? You probably even apologized for the inclement weather. But when apologizing comes so naturally, we sometimes do it without thinking, even when we are not at fault for the situation.


This can lead to worry if you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident. Some drivers fear that if they apologized at the accident scene, their apology may be misconstrued as an admission of guilt. Fortunately, this is not usually true. In fact, there’s a particularly Canadian piece of legislation in the province of Ontario that’s designed to protect against this: The Apology Act of 2009.


Under the Apology Act, drivers may offer “an expression of sympathy or regret” or a statement or actions indicating contrition without fearing that the words or actions will be assumed to imply an admission of fault or liability. It goes on to state that simply saying that you are sorry at the scene of an accident will not affect your insurance claim and will not be taken into account in determining fault or liability. The act also stipulates that evidence of an apology is not admissible in civil, administrative, or arbitration proceedings.


In the Aftermath of a Collision

So, in Ontario, apologizing immediately following an accident cannot be considered evidence of wrong-doing. But what actions should you take if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident? Often we are so shocked that we are unsure how to respond. There are a few things that you must do as soon as possible:

  • Stop your car. Do not leave the scene.

  • If someone has been injured, call 911immediately. Follow the instructions given to you by the emergency operator and wait for EMS to arrive. Do not try to move anyone injured in the accident; you may aggravate their injuries.
  • If you suspect that a driver has been drinking or using drugs, call the police immediately.

  • If the total damages to the vehicles involved appears to be more than $2,000, call the police. If no one is injured and the total damage to all the vehicles involved appears to be less than $2,000, call a Collision Reporting Centre within 24 hours. At the reporting centre you will complete a police report and damage to your vehicle will be documented. You can find the nearest Collision Reporting Centre biy visiting:

  • If it is safe, and if your car is drivable, you may pull over and get out of traffic. If you are unable to move your car and it is posing a hazard, turn on your flashers, set up road flares if you have them, and put your hood up to signal to other vehicles that there has been an accident.
  • You will need to get information from any other drivers involved in the accident. You need:
    • Name 
    • Address and phone numbers
    • Driver’s license number
    • Vehicle plate number
    • Vehicle make and colour
    • Name of registered owner of vehicle (if different from driver)
    • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
    • Other drivers’ insurance company information: name, policy number, and expiry date
    • Names of passengers in the car, and where they were seated when the accident occurred
    • What damage has been sustained by their vehicle
  • Once any injured people are taken care of, take photos of the scene. The photos and descriptions from the drivers involved will be used by the insurers.

  • Take the time to record what happened, in your own words. You can do this by recording a voice memo on your phone, writing with pen and paper, or creating a note in a note-taking app. Include information such as:
    • Date and time
    • Weather conditions
    • Road conditions
    • Estimated speed of your car
    • Description of what happened, in as much detail as you can remember

Sketch a diagram of the accident if possible.

  • Call your insurance company. Be prepared to provide them with information about your own license and vehicle as well as that of the other drivers involved.

Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or a family member has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact a personal injury law firm as soon as possible. Lawyers who practice in this area will be able to tell you what your options are regarding insurance claims or legal action, and the initial meeting with one of these professionals is free.


They almost always work on a contingency basis, which means that they do not charge up-front hourly fees; rather, personal injury lawyers usually contract for a percentage of any compensation you may receive.


Learn more about your situation: call a personal injury law firm today.