The First Steps to Take Immediately After a Car Accident

Often, when you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, the element of shock or injury may prevent you from making logical decisions.

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:

  1. 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;
  2. Have a look at the insurance of each of the motor vehicles involved in the accident and take a picture to ensure an accurate recording of the names of the registered owner and the insurance details;
  3. Look at the other parties’ driver’s license and take a picture to avoid being given false information or not recording the information accurately;
  4. Write down and take a picture of the license plates of the vehicles involved in the accident;
  5. If a motor vehicle involved in the accident is registered outside British Columbia, make sure you get the name of the insurance company;
  6. Find out the names and contact information of any witnesses;
  7. Take a lot of pictures of the vehicle damage and the resting positions of the vehicles; and
  8. Take some notes about how the accident happened and draw a sketch of the accident scene.

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

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 tens of thousands of dollars when ICBC comes after you for the money they pay out under a claim.

As an example, 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 on the flimsiest of evidence. If that happens, ICBC will not cover your vehicle damage and will expect you to pay for all injury claims. Then, you will have to sue them for insurance coverage as otherwise, ICBC’s finding of a “breach of contract” stands despite ICBC having no real evidence to breach you except some element of suspicion. Therefore, the better approach is to call the police and wait for their instructions.

In terms of involving the police, you should call and speak to the dispatcher while at the accident scene if there is obvious injury or death and/or the accident caused heavy damage to the vehicles blocking the roadway. Depending on what the dispatcher hears, the police may or may not attend and investigate the circumstances of the accident. If the police attend, they are required to prepare a police report which ICBC is supposed to get within 10 days of the accident.