Leaving scene of an accident

8 minute read Published on Jun 9, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Ground-view of a motorbike accident on the road with a white car

If you are involved in an accident, there are rules and laws that must be followed. Although you will eventually be allowed to leave the scene of the accident, leaving the scene of the accident prematurely can have serious repercussions. Below, we outline what to do if you’re in a car accident and explain how to report a car accident.

Getting into a car accident

If you are involved in a car accident, there are a few steps you must take before you can leave the scene of the accident. Some of these steps are to ensure your own safety and the safety of those involved, and others are legal requirements, such as reporting a car accident. In addition, you will be required to notify your car insurance company about the incident so that you can file a claim:

Pull over and assess yourself for bodily harm

The first thing you should do after the accident occurs is to pull over safely and assess yourself for bodily harm. If you suffered a major injury, it might be best to remain inside your car until emergency personnel arrive on the scene. If you do not think you’re injured, you can exit the vehicle safely to assess the damage and check on the other person involved.

Call 9-1-1 and report the accident

Next, call 9-1-1 if anyone is injured and notify the police about the accident. Depending on the severity of the accident, paramedics, firefighters and law enforcement officers may arrive on the scene to help. A medical professional may check you out, while the police will take information about the accident in order to create a police report. Remember that not reporting a car accident is against the law in certain jurisdictions, depending on the circumstances of the accident. If the accident you are involved in doesn’t meet these conditions, it’s still a good idea to call the police and have them file a report so that you can use it for your insurance claim.

Gather evidence from the scene of the accident

Next, if it’s safe and you’re physically able to do so, gather evidence from the scene of the accident. Take photos and videos of damage and road conditions and take statements from witnesses if applicable. Be prepared to submit this evidence with your insurance claim.

Leave the scene of the accident when you are cleared to do so

You can only leave the accident when it is safe to do so and when you are cleared to do so. To confirm that you are legally allowed to leave the scene of the accident, ask the police officer at the site. They will inform you if they have all the information they need for you to leave. Remember that leaving the scene early or fleeing the scene of an accident is an offence in the Criminal Code of Canada.

Reach out to your insurance company

Once you are home safe, it’s time to contact your insurance company. Why? They need to know about the accident so that they can help you file an insurance claim to cover the cost of the damage. Remember that Ontario has a no-fault insurance system, which means that you will be dealing with your own insurance company even if another driver is found to be at fault for the accident. It is worth noting that you should always let your insurance company know about any accidents you are involved in. You should even call your insurance company after a minor car accident, such as a fender bender.

Am I required to report a car accident in Ontario?

It depends. According to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, there are certain situations in which you are legally required to report a car crash to the police. Whether the accident in question is a single-vehicle collision, a rear-end collision, or a head-on collision, you won’t have a choice but to report it to the police if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • If the damage caused by the accident exceeds $2,000 between both vehicles combined
  • If someone is injured in the accident, whether the injuries sustained are major or minor
  • If the accident involved a government vehicle
  • If the accident involved a driver who is uninsured or underinsured
  • If the accident involved a criminal act, such as impaired driving or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • If the accident involved a pedestrian
  • If the accident resulted in damage to private or municipal property

When in doubt, always report the accident to the police. You can always contact BrokerLink or your insurance agent to ask whether you are required to report the car accident.

Failing to report a car accident when the Ontario Highway Traffic Act dictates you must

Please note that failing to report a car accident when you are legally required to can have serious consequences. Since you would be violating the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, you can face the following penalties:

  • Fines ranging between $400 and $2,000
  • The suspension of your driver’s licence for up to two years
  • Jail time (depending on the severity of the accident that you left)

Police reports explained

Understanding what police reports contain can help you understand what makes reporting a car accident so important. Although police reports can vary, they generally include a wealth of information about the accident. This information is very useful for insurance companies as they determine fault. The average police report in Ontario will typically include the following pieces of information:

  • The report number: All police accident reports have a reference number clearly indicated on them.
  • The date and location of the accident: The report will include the date and location details of the accident.
  • The accident details: Photos of any damage or injuries that resulted from the accident will be part of the police report. Details, including the location of the damage/injuries and the type of accident, will be noted.
  • Driver information: The police report will include the driver’s licence numbers, insurance company names, insurance policies, and contact information of all drivers involved in the accident.
  • Vehicle information: The report will also include details of the make, model, trim, and year of the vehicles, as well as the licence plate numbers of all vehicles involved in the accident.
  • Statements: Statements from any relevant witnesses or passengers will be included in the report.
  • Driver statement: A statement detailing the events that led to the collision from the driver’s perspective will be included.
  • Other information: Anything the police deem is relevant to the accident, such as hazardous road conditions, time of day or weather, will be included.

Leaving the scene of an accident early in Canada

Fleeing the scene of a car accident is a crime in Canada, no matter where you live or the circumstances surrounding the accident. Leaving the scene of an accident is known as a hit-and-run. Drivers choose to flee for a variety of reasons. However, the most common ones are panic and fear of possible punishment. While it’s natural to feel stressed and panicked after getting into a collision, fleeing the scene is never the right decision.

Keep in mind that even fleeing the scene of a small accident is a crime. For example, if you hit a parked car or get into a fender bender that only causes minor damage, it will still be considered a hit-and-run if you fail to remain at the scene.

Penalties for hit-and-run accidents

Penalties for hit-and-run accidents vary depending on the province in which the incident occurred. That said, since it’s both a traffic violation and goes against the Criminal Code in Canada, you can expect to face serious penalties, including fines, jail time, the suspension of your driver’s licence and more.

In Ontario specifically, drivers who flee the scene can be fined up to $2,000, be thrown in jail for up to six months, have their driver’s licences suspended, and receive six demerit points.

On top of all this, being charged with a driving infraction such as this will go on your driving record and influence your auto insurance premium. At-fault accidents affect car insurance rates, so you can expect to pay more for car insurance until the accident is no longer on your record, which can take up to six years.

What should I do if I panicked and left the scene of the accident?

If you panicked and fled the scene immediately after the accident occurred, return to the scene as soon as possible. This is the only way to try and make it right, and the sooner you realize this, the better. If too much time has passed since the accident occurred, call your local law enforcement agency and explain what happened. Be honest, explain that you panicked, and left the scene temporarily.

How hit-and-run accidents impact car insurance

Any type of accident, including a hit-and-run accident, has the ability to impact your car insurance rates. However, the odds of a hit-and-run accident adversely affecting your rates are higher. Why? You are more likely to be found liable if you commit a criminal act at the time of the accident, and fleeing the scene of an accident is a criminal act in Canada. Thus, even if the shared fault is determined by your insurance company, you may end up being found liable for the majority of the fault since you made the poor decision to flee the scene of the accident.

Keep in mind that even if you are not found to be at fault for the accident, Ontario’s no-fault insurance system means that you would still be filing an insurance claim with your own provider, not the at-fault driver’s provider. The good news is that if you are not found to be at fault for the accident, then your insurance rates may be the same.

On the other hand, if you are found to be at fault for the accident, then your rates are likely going to increase. You will notice this increase the next time that your policy is renewed. You may have to pay more for your car insurance coverage until the accident is no longer on your driving record, which can take three to ten years, depending on where you live.

Reach out to BrokerLink to learn more

Want your questions answered about leaving the scene of an accident? Get in touch with BrokerLink today. One of our expert advisors can give you all sorts of advice and tips, including how and when you are legally allowed to leave the scene of an accident, how to report a car accident, and how to save on car insurance.

Speaking of car insurance, one of our licensed brokers will ensure that you have every type of auto insurance that you are legally required to have as a driver in your province. A broker can add any of the following types of coverage to your policy:

Reach out to BrokerLink today to get started and request a free car insurance quote.

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