Reporting your car accident and associated injuries to local authorities and your insurance representative is a vital step in proving loss if you choose to file for injury or property compensation. Ontario law obliges you to report accidents unless there is very little or no property damage and no one was injured.
Under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, drivers must take the following actions when they are involved in a car accident.
- Remain at the location of the accident or return immediately.
- Provide your name, address, phone number, driver’s licence and insurance information for the registered vehicle owner, if requested, to anyone involved in the accident, as well as to witnesses and police officers.
- Give assistance, to the best of your ability, to others involved in the accident.
- Report any accidents if anyone was injured and also, when combined property damage exceeds $2000 (to cars, roads or other property).
If you are charged with failing to report a car accident, you may be fined $1000 and receive 3 demerit points on your driver’s licence. Note that a small amount of damage can easily exceed $2000, so if in doubt, always report your car accident.
It is also prudent to take the following additional steps after a car accident:
- Move your vehicle out of the way of traffic to a safe location when it is safe to do so.
- Take photographs of the scene of the accident, the vehicles involved, drivers and passengers, witnesses, and any important driver documentation.
When reporting a collision, call the nearest police station or 911. It is appropriate to call 911 emergency services under the following circumstances:
- Someone was injured or killed in the accident
- You suspect a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- A bicyclist or pedestrian was involved in the accident
- There is damage to public or private property or a municipal vehicle was involved
- A vehicle failed to remain at the scene (i.e. a hit and run)
- An unlicensed or uninsured driver was involved
- There is a suspected violation of law, such as a stolen vehicle or careless driving
In cases of minor collisions, drivers should contact police directly or have their vehicle transported to a local collision reporting center where a police officer or service employee will assess vehicle damage. Halton Regional Police, for instance, request that cars be driven or towed to one of three Collision Reporting Centers during their normal working hours, which are located in Oakville, Milton and Burlington. The City of Toronto utilizes two collision centers, in North York and Scarborough, and requires drivers to report accidents within 24 hours of their occurrence.
In addition to reporting your car accident to police, you are advised to call your insurance company and they may choose to send their own representative to assess the damage to your vehicle. If you elect not to report the car accident to your insurer for any reason, be aware that you risk forfeiting your chance to receive injury compensation if you develop health complications, pain or worsening injury in the months following your car accident.
In a recent Ontario trial, Monico v State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance, 2015, a woman failed to report a hit and run accident, but years later filed a civil suit for damages due to ongoing neck and back pain. Her suit was dismissed largely because her failure to report the accident to authorities and State Farm was judged to prejudice the defense for her insurer, who is no longer able to investigate the circumstances of the accident and locate the alleged hit-and-run driver to recover their loss from his insurer.
Timelines for Seeking Injury Compensation
As a general rule, you must file a civil suit for damages against the person responsible for your injuries within two years of your accident. If you are making a motor vehicle accident benefits claim for your injuries to your insurance company, you must report your injuries to your insurer within seven days of your accident and then complete the provided Application for Accident Benefits within 30 days, if possible.
As well as reporting your accident to authorities and your insurer, an equally vital step is to seek medical assessment and treatment. Anyone who is seriously injured will naturally visit a hospital or a doctor for prompt treatment. However, even if your injuries seem minor immediately following an accident, it is nevertheless prudent to consult a physician for assessment as seemingly minor injuries can worsen and become a long-term source of pain and/or mobility issues. Also important is that you follow your doctor’s recommendations for ongoing treatment or rest.
The personal injury lawyers associated with Injury Lawyers of Ontario (ILO) are an affiliation of well-respected and highly experienced lawyers who serve and have connections in local communities throughout Ontario. Our lawyers offer a no-obligation consultation to meet with you and your family to answer questions about your legal rights and any other issues associated with your accident. Common questions asked by injured persons include: the requirements and timelines for filing a claim for compensation, the amount and type of compensation to which you are eligible, the rights of family members, how long it will take to settle a claim, how much are the lawyer’s fees, and what to expect during the litigation process. Let us know how we can help.