Your accident record has a pronounced effect on your vehicle insurance. If you’re involved in one or more at-fault accidents, insurers will deem that you pose a greater risk, and you can expect that your premiums will rise. On the other hand, if you stay claims-free and accident-free for an extended period of time, insurers will reward you with lower rates.
However, one nightmare scenario for many drivers fear is being falsely accused of damaging someone else’s vehicle…and worse, walking away. If such an accusation becomes part of your permanent driving record, you could face years of increased premiums, cost hikes and even a criminal record.
What to Do if You’re Falsely Accused of Damaging Another Vehicle
If someone has falsely accused you of damaging their vehicle, take solace in the fact that the burden of proof is going to fall on them. In Canada, you are innocent until proven guilty in both civil and criminal matters. Your accuser is going to have to prove beyond a doubt, in a court of law, that you are responsible for the damage to their car or truck before you will be deemed legally liable for reparations.
Here is a step-by-step guide to what to do if someone has unjustly accused you of damaging their vehicle:
- Speak to the police officer handling the case, and clearly communicate that you are not responsible for the damage and that you deny all involvement.
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible, and inform them of the situation. Provide the name of your accuser, and your accuser’s vehicle insurance information if you have it. Again, explicitly deny your involvement with the incident. The company’s representative will offer you further situation-specific advice on your next steps.
- Invite your insurance agency to visit your home to conduct an inspection of your vehicle to determine whether or not it could have been involved in a collision. Your accuser may want to have a representative from his or her insurance company do the same; if you really have nothing to hide, there’s no reason you shouldn’t allow this.
- If court proceedings occur, enlist the services of an attorney to prepare your defense, if necessary. Your insurance company may be able to offer support and resources. Remember that failing to show up to civil proceedings can result in an automatic guilty verdict being levied against you.
More Accident Tips for Responsible Drivers
Accidents are a fact of life, but many people aren’t sure what to do in certain collision circumstances. In particular, parking lot accidents and hit-and-run accidents often leave drivers confused.
With parking lot accidents, the trick is to remember that right of way rules change slightly. Parking lots are divided into a system of “thoroughfares” and “feeder lanes,” with drivers in thoroughfares holding right of way over drivers in feeder lanes. Also, drivers who are operating vehicles in reverse are more likely to be deemed at fault in the event of a collision.
If you’re the victim of a hit and run, here’s a list of things you should do:
- If possible, note the make and model of the car, its colour, its license plate, and record a physical description of the driver.
- Call the police immediately.
- If you were absent from your vehicle when the damage occurred, seek witnesses, and ask anyone who saw the incident to wait until the police arrive.
- Get contact information from any witnesses who are willing to provide it.
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the incident. Let them know that the police are investigating, and provide a case number and the name of the investigating officer if you have them.
Remember that you are compelled by law to notify the police if you’re involved in an accident that’s likely to cause $2,000 or more in property damage, regardless of where it took place. Failure to do so can result in further penalties, which could culminate in fines, demerit points, and increases to your vehicle insurance rates.
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