Knowing what to do after an auto accident is essential, for both legal and insurance reasons. This is true regardless of whether you or another driver is primarily at fault.
Steps to Take Immediately Following an Accident
Here is what you should do in the immediate aftermath of a collision:
- Stop. Bring your vehicle to a stop as soon as it is safe. Failing to do so could result in fines and/or demerit points against your license. If your vehicle is still drivable, move it to the side or shoulder of the road to allow traffic to continue to pass. If it is immobile, put on your hazard lights.
- Stay calm. Take a moment to breathe deeply. Do your best to remain calm, as it is otherwise very difficult to make sound decisions and act rationally.
- Make an assessment of the situation, safely. First, make sure you aren’t endangering yourself or anyone else by stepping out of your vehicle to inspect the damage. Be extra caution on busy roads and highways. If someone is injured, do not move that person, as this can do further physical damage.
- Call 911 immediately if anyone is injured, if another driver involved in the accident flees the scene, if you suspect impaired driving was a factor in the collision, or if someone involved in the accident starts behaving in an aggressive or threatening manner towards you.
If you have a digital camera or smartphone with you, it’s also a good idea to document the crash scene in pictures. This could prove particularly helpful if differing accounts of what happened during the accident emerge, or if you have to file an auto insurance claim to cover damages.
Reporting the Accident to Police
In Calgary, there are several circumstances under which you are required by law to report an accident to police. They include:
- Accidents resulting in more than $2,000 in property damage. This can include your vehicle and anything else that was damaged, such as a fence, parking stanchion, tree, etc.
- Accidents that caused damage to public buildings or public property
- Accidents that caused injuries to one or more people
- Accidents in which criminal offences (fleeing the scene, suspicion of impaired driving) are a factor
You should also contact the police if:
- Any of the vehicles involved in the collision are not drivable
- Any of the drivers do not have proper documentation (license, vehicle registration and/or vehicle insurance)
As a general rule of thumb, it’s good to err on the side of caution when it comes to reporting an accident. If you’re in doubt, call the police.
Exchanging Insurance and Contact Information
You need to also exchange contact and vehicle insurance information with the other drivers involved in the accident, regardless of whether or not the police need to respond to the scene of the collision.
Here’s what you should get:
- The full names, addresses and telephone numbers of all the other drivers involved in the crash
- The names of their insurance providers and policy numbers, if available
If the other driver is unable to provide you with his or her contact and insurance details, or refuses to do so, make a note of their vehicle’s make, model, colour and license plate number so you can follow up with the police later.
After documenting the scene and obtaining contact information from the other parties in the accident, you may leave the scene if it is safe to do so, and if your vehicle is in drivable condition.
Notifying Your Auto Insurance Company
Next, you should contact your insurance company to report the accident, irrespective of whether or not you plan to file a damage claim. Report:
- All details and circumstances of the collision
- Injuries or property damage, if any
It is very important to do this promptly, especially if you need to file a claim, since reporting a collision too late can affect your compensation eligibility.
A Few Don’ts to Keep in Mind
Finally, remember that you should not:
- Accept fault for the crash, either verbally or in writing
- Pay for damages at the scene
- Negotiate a settlement with other involved parties
- Agree to “drive away and forget about it”
All parties involved in a collision have responsibilities, and it’s especially important to be diligent if property damage or injuries have occurred.
Lane’s Provides Options for Your Auto Insurance Needs
If you have any other questions, the knowledgeable insurance professionals at Lane’s Insurance are here to help. Lane’s Insurance is a leading Alberta-based brokerage, offering competitive rates, money-saving insurance bundles and outstanding customer service and claims support.