Your legal responsibilities in the event of a car accident

If you are directly or indirectly involved in an accident that causes property damage, bodily injury, or death, you are legally obligated to do several things. There are also some steps you should take to legally protect yourself if the accident causes injury or property damage.

Remain on the scene

First, you must remain at, or immediately return to, the accident scene. Leaving the scene of an accident, whether you were directly or indirectly involved, is illegal.

Request assistance for someone who has been injured

If someone appears to be injured, you should call an ambulance. Unless you have medical training or the victim’s needs are clear, you should not touch the injured person. For example, if a car is on fire, you can pull the victim out. If you can do so safely, you should help prevent future accidents by alerting approaching traffic, such as by flashing your hazard lights or raising your vehicle’s hood.

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Contact the police or go to a collision center

Property damage of less than $2,000 with no injuries

There is no legal requirement to call and wait for the police if the accident does not involve personal injury, none of the drivers involved are suspected of a law violation, such as driving while their ability was impaired, and the property damage is less than $2,000 (total, combined damage to both vehicles). In most cases, police will not attend the scene under these conditions. The only exception is if someone else’s property has been damaged, such as telephone poles, guard rails, or someone’s lawn. In most cases, you must simply take your vehicle to a Collision Reporting Centre.

If there is more than $2,000 in property damage and/or someone is injured,

When someone is injured in an accident, any of the drivers involved is suspected of breaking the law, or there is property damage in excess of $2,000, you are required by law to contact the police before leaving the scene. You may be required to wait for the police to arrive or be instructed to take your vehicle to a Collision Reporting Centre.

Centers for Collision Reporting

Following an accident, you must bring your vehicle to a Collision Reporting Centre within 24 hours. You may have up to 48 hours if the center is closed on weekends. Your vehicle will be inspected and the damage photographed at the Collision Reporting Centre, and you will be assisted in completing a police report. The police do not automatically send these reports to your insurance company. If the accident was reported to a Collision Reporting Centre, the Centre will notify your insurance company automatically, unless you request otherwise.

Collision Reporting Centres are collaborations between local police departments, insurance companies, and private businesses.

Refer to the Toronto Police Service for more information and a comprehensive explanation of when you must report a collision to the police (TPS).

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