What to Do If You’ve Been in a Car Accident


Being involved in a car accident is an incredibly stressful experience. With this step by step guide, you should be able to keep a clear head. Take your time, make your decisions carefully, and protect yourself against false claims.

The Basics, Step by Step

Step 1: Stop 

Leaving an accident can result in criminal charges. Turn on your hazard lights and set up safety signs if you have them. Once you’re done, get back in the car for safety.

Step 2: Call Emergency Services

It’s important for emergency crews and police to respond as quickly as possible, especially if there are injuries. Police won’t always be required, and the operator will tell you if they’re needed. However, there are a few cases when police will always be required:

  • There are injuries
  • Damages exceed $2,000
  • Someone is intoxicated

If it’s a minor accident, you’re only required to file a collision report at a local police station or report to a collision center, depending on your province.

Step 3: Photos 

You’ll need these for your insurance claim. You also need statements from the other drivers to help your insurer determine who’s at fault. If you don’t have auto insurance, you can visit this page for more information.

Step 4: Move 

If it’s safe, move your car to the side of the road. Remember to keep your hazards on, put out signs, or pop your hood to let other drivers know there’s an emergency.

Step 5: Details 

Take note of the following:

  • Date and time
  • Weather and road conditions
  • Estimated speed
  • Accident description/diagram

You’ll also need details from the other driver:

  • Full name and address
  • Contact details
  • License details
  • Car plate number, VIN, color, and make
  • Registered owner’s details
  • Insurance details/policy number
  • Damage details
  • Passenger positions and details

After the Accident

Call your insurance company. You need to contact your insurer within seven days if you want to file a claim, but the sooner, the better. It might increase your premium, but it’s still better to be honest with your insurer.

Remember the details in step 5 above? Your insurance company will need these for your claim. If the cops were called, get the name and badge number of the investigating officer as well.

Beware of Scams

Insurance fraud is one of the biggest contributors to increased insurance premiums. Some of the more common scams include:

  • Staged accidents: Rear-ending is a prime example.
  • Referral scams: The tow-truck driver might recommend a repair shop, but you’ll pay higher fees. If you don’t pay, you could lose your car.
  • Fake injuries: The con artist may claim a severe yet hard-to-diagnose injury and demand compensation.

Final Word

None of us want to be in a car accident, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared for any eventuality. Knowing what to do after the event can help you manage the shock and keep a clear head.


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