What to do if you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident

May 15, 2024

If you’ve never been involved in a motor vehicle accident as a driver, chances are you know someone who has. That’s because Canadians are involved in  approximately 160,000 car accidents each year, some of which result in life-changing personal injuries.

As our population grows and roads become more congested, the chances of being involved in a motor vehicle accident are increasing. In Ontario, the number of motor vehicle accidents rose by 20 per cent in 2022 from a year earlier, while in 2023 there were more than 11,000 impaired driving charges laid in Ontario alone, up 7 per cent from 2022. One person is injured in a distracted-driving collision in the province every 30 minutes.

The best way to protect yourself as a driver is to be attentive and utilize defensive driving techniques. But accidents will inevitably happen, so it’s important to be prepared. Following these steps will help ensure you obtain the insurance coverage—and potentially even the post-accident personal injury treatment and compensation—that you deserve:

Think safety first

A motor vehicle accident can be confusing, chaotic, and stressful—and safety after a collision is always the main priority. After the accident has occurred, you’ll want to immediately turn on your hazard lights (if possible) to alert other drivers to be mindful. Conduct a personal body check and/or assess any passengers in the vehicle to determine if anyone is injured and may require medical assistance. Remember that motor vehicle accident injuries aren’t always obvious. Err on the side of caution if you think you or someone else has been injured and call first responders who can conduct a medical assessment at the scene.

If the accident is much more serious and you or a loved one are badly injured, try to stay calm, call emergency services (if possible) and wait for help to arrive.

If you’re not injured and it’s safe to do so, step out of your vehicle to check on the other driver. Remember, this isn’t a time for blame. It’s essential to remove the emotion from the situation and focus on the facts. If contacted, the police will determine who may or may not be at fault, along with any legal consequences if charges are laid against one or both drivers.

Take photos

If possible before moving your vehicle, take photos or video of the scene, along with any damage to both vehicles and any surrounding property. If the accident occurs in the middle of a busy road or highway—or if weather conditions are poor—remain in place and wait for emergency vehicles to arrive.

Try to take photos and/or video quickly. That way you can move your vehicle to the side of the road to help prevent another accident. If the vehicle is too damaged and can’t be moved, keep your hazard lights on to alert other vehicles that they should slow down and approach with caution.

Gather as much information as possible

If major injuries have occurred, stay calm and wait for first responders to arrive to treat you or other injured passengers/bystanders. If you or the other driver(s) involved are unable to gather information, other passengers or bystanders can assist by collecting details. No matter who collects that information, tools such as a smart phone voice memo app can be more efficient than trying to write or type out details. For information such as drivers’ license numbers, take photos of the other driver’s documents as a backup in case you make errors in documenting those details.

Here’s some of the information you’ll need from the other driver(s) involved in the accident:

  • Drivers’ license number
  • Name
  • Address
  • Vehicle description (make, model, colour)
  • Insurance information and policy number
  • License plate number
  • An overview of injuries to you, your passengers or the other driver and their passengers (if any)

Here are some of the details you should document after an accident:

  • Date, time, and location
  • Weather conditions at the time of the crash
  • A detailed description of how the accident occurred (Note: you don’t have to agree with the other driver about these details or discuss them. It’s best to record this information to the best of your ability and be as detailed as possible)
  • Estimated speed that you were driving
  • If you can, draw a diagram of the accident so it’s easier to recall later, in addition to any video/photo evidence that you gather

Your insurance company should protect your rights and provide the full coverage to which you’re entitled, but unless you’ve documented everything thoroughly and correctly, you may run into roadblocks. This could mean everything from being denied coverage for repairs to your vehicle to struggling to obtain disability compensation if your motor vehicle accident injuries are debilitating.

Contact police if the accident is serious

Call police immediately if you suspect the total damage to any vehicle involved exceeds $2,000, anyone is injured or you believe that intoxication may have been a factor in the accident. If no one is injured and you estimate the damage to be less than $2,000, you can file a report at a collision reporting centre within 24 hours.

Contact your insurance provider

The sooner you contact your insurance provider, the faster your claim will be filed and can move through the claims process. It’s important that you provide them with all of the detailed information you gathered.

Contact a personal injury lawyer to schedule an assessment

Many drivers avoid contacting a personal injury lawyer because they worry about incurring costly fees. At Leone Murray LLP, however, we offer complimentary case assessments and don’t charge any upfront fees.

Our team will listen and work to understand your situation, document key details, explain the coverage to which you’re entitled under your insurance policy and how we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Often, drivers are not fully aware of their rights, and may overlook key benefits or next steps that could impact their insurance coverage or compensation.

If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident, contact a member of our team today.

The Leone Murray LLP team


Why you should choose Leone Murray LLP

Expertise: Our law firm specializes in personal injury law, which means we know the ins and outs of insurance, what you’re entitled to, and the next steps if you or your loved one is involved in a motor vehicle accident in Ontario.

Compassionate Care: We take a client-first approach, ensuring you receive both the legal expertise and emotional support you need during this difficult time.

No Upfront Fees: Some insurance providers may require you to take on additional costs related to medical assessments or specialist treatments. We pay these upfront fees on your behalf while fighting for your rights, saving that added stress so you can focus on your complete recovery.