What You Should Do Right After a Car Accident

what should you do after a car accident

What You Should Do Right After a Car Accident

First and foremost, if someone is seriously hurt, call 911.

If everyone is okay, follow the guide below.

Wondering what you should do right after a car accident? Often, the element of shock or injury may prevent you from making logical decisions on how to act, what to do and who to contact. This leads people to forget to gather evidence surrounding the accident. If possible, try to preserve the evidence as much as possible because you never know what will come in handy.

While at the accident scene, it is helpful if you can obtain the following information:

  • Obtain the names, addresses, phone numbers and driver’s license numbers of all parties involved in the accident, regardless of who is at fault for the accident and how minor the accident is.
  •  Have a look at the insurance of each of the motor vehicles involved in the accident so as to get the names of the registered owner and the insurance details. Take a picture of the documents.
  • Look at the other parties’ driver’s license to avoid being given false information and take a picture on your phone.
  • Write down and take a picture of the plate numbers, including Province, of all the vehicles involved in the accident by looking at the license plates and registration.
  • If a motor vehicle involved in the accident is registered outside British Columbia make sure you get the name of the insurance company which should be on their insurance papers.
  • Find out the names and contact information of any witnesses.
  • Take some pictures of the vehicles and their resting positions.
  • Take some notes about how the accident happened and draw a sketch of the accident scene.

Remember, your phone is your friend. Snap as many photos as you can, they will come in handy.

The Motor Vehicle Act requires all individuals involved in a motor vehicle accident to remain at the accident scene, to render assistance and to exchange vehicle registration and license information with all parties involved in the accident.

The Motor Vehicle Act also requires those involved in the accident to report the accident to the local police force within 24 hours in urban areas and within 48 hours in rural areas. The need to report only applies if the damages exceed $1,000 ($600 if a motorcycle is involved).

When in doubt, it is best to simply report the accident to the police as soon as possible. Indeed, it is good practice, unless the accident was extremely minor and all parties agree to exchange information and leave the scene, to call the police from the accident scene.

If it is a relatively minor accident without injuries, the police likely will not attend the accident scene but if it is more serious, with injuries involved, the police will attend the accident scene.

Note that if you leave the scene of the accident without reporting to the police and/or exchanging information with the other parties, you may be charged under the Motor Vehicle Act or may be held in breach of your contract of insurance with ICBC. The later result could cost you thousands of dollars when ICBC comes after you for the money they pay out under a claim.

Of particular note, if you are in a single vehicle accident, especially at night, the last thing you should do is walk from the scene. ICBC will assume you have something to hide like impaired driving and may breach you of your contract of insurance. The better approach is to call the police and wait for their instructions – this is something you should do right after a car accident.

Ideally, you should contact the ICBC dial-a-claim center within 24 hours of the motor vehicle accident to report the accident. The representative at ICBC will ask for general insurance information, vehicle information and driver/owner information.

The representative will also ask for details of the accident and whether or not you or your passenger(s) suffered an injury in the accident. Specifically, the representative will ask for the following information:

  • Your vehicle license plate number and registration.
  • The name and the driver’s license number of the person driving your vehicle.
  • The name, the license plate and driver’s license numbers of the other vehicle(s)/ parties involved in the accident.
  • When the accident happened.
  • Where the accident happened.
  • General details of the accident.
  • Your views on liability and whether or not you will accept responsibility.
  • Details of the injuries to the parties involved in the accident.

Note that when you phone dial-a-claim, the representative from ICBC at the other end of the phone is filling out a CL-75. This is an ICBC internal form, which provides details about your vehicle, the owner of the vehicle, the other party involved in the accident, the description of the accident, etc.

Remember, whatever you tell this ICBC dial-a-claim representative will be recorded on a form and ICBC may use what you said against you in your claim if it helps them.

Therefore, be very careful of what you tell the claims representative.

The contacts for the ICBC’s Dial-a-Claim Centre are:

  • 604-520-8222 in the Lower Mainland
  • 1-800-910-4222 outside the Lower Mainland
  • 1-800-910-4222 from out of Province
  • 604-592-8800 for out of Province claims

In summary, to be safe, you need to report to ICBC within 24 hours of the accident, regardless of the accident type.

With the exception of Hit and Run claims and claims involving an injury, ICBC offers you the convenience of reporting a claim 24 hours a day online. An ICBC adjuster will process the claim usually within 24 hours and post an online claim report notice, which you must then retrieve.

Written by Wes Mussio of Mussio Goodman Law Group