law handbook

What to do After an Accident

What to do immediately after a car accident.
If you’ve been in a car accident, you must stay at the scene. It’s the law. The Motor Vehicle Act requires you to stay where you are so you can lend a hand, and exchange registration and license information with all parties involved.

If it looks like the motorcycle damage exceeds $600 or motor vehicle damage exceeds $1000, or if people are injured, then you should report the accident to the local police.

In a minor accident without injuries, the police probably won’t attend. However, if an accident is more severe and, especially if there are injuries involved, the police will likely attend the scene and investigate.

What to do while at the scene.
Collect 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 to get the names of the registered owner and the insurance details
  • Look at the other parties’ driver’s license to ensure that you’re not receiving false information
  • Record the plate numbers (and province) of all the vehicles involved in the accident by looking at the license plates and registration
  • If a vehicle involved in the accident is registered outside British Columbia, then get the name of the insurance company.
  • Find out the names and contact information of any witnesses.
  • Take some pictures of the vehicles and their resting positions.
  • Take notes about how the accident happened, or draw a sketch of the scene to help refresh your memory later.

What happens if you leave the scene?
It’s important to note that, if you leave the scene of the accident without reporting to the police or exchanging information with the other parties, you could be charged under the Motor Vehicle Act or you could be held in breach of your contract of insurance with ICBC. In that case, ICBC can come after you for the money they pay out under a claim, for vehicle damage or injuries, which could be significant.

If you’re in a single vehicle accident, especially at night, don’t just leave the scene. Instead, call the police and follow their instructions. Otherwise, ICBC will assume you have something to hide like impaired driving and, again, could consider you in breach of your contract.

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