Car Accidents: What to Do

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Since drivers, cyclists and pedestrians all have to share the road, accidents can happen to anyone.

What should you do after an accident? Who should you contact? What information do you have to exchange? How can you get money for damage to your vehicle or for injuries?

This article answers these questions.


Right After an Accident

Call the police if someone is injured.

You must stop your car to see whether the vehicles were damaged and whether someone was injured. If you don't stop, you could be accused of a "hit and run" (that is, running away from the scene of an accident you caused).

If someone was injured, you must contact the police. The police will prepare an accident report and send it to the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ).  


Complete a joint report.

If no one was injured, you don't have to contact the police to get a police report. However, you do have to exchange some information with the other person involved in the accident. You could be fined if you don't do this.

You must exchange the following information:

  • name and address of the drivers involved in the accident
  • drivers' licence numbers
  • name and address of each car owner as shown on their vehicle registration certificate (the card or document that says who is the owner of the car)
  • licence plate number of the cars involved
  • information on each driver's certificate of insurance (the document proving you have insurance and giving details of the insurance policy)

Enter all this information in a "joint report" form. A joint report is a form used to describe the accident and identify the people involved. It is used when no one is injured in the accident.

You can order a joint report form from the Info-Insurance website. You can also get one from your private insurance company.

You can also get a joint report form using a mobile app available through the Groupement des assureurs automobiles (association of car insurers)

Sometimes you're the only person at the scene of an accident. If you hit an animal weighing more than 25 kg, a parked car or some another object, you must contact the police to give them the information listed above.

If you fill out a joint report, does this mean you're admitting your responsibility for the accident? No. Only your insurer can determine whether you were responsible. Not even the police (if they were called) will determine who was responsible.


Getting Compensation After an Accident

The process for getting compensation depends on whether the car was damaged and whether you were injured. "Compensation" refers to money you might receive for damage to your car or injuries.


Compensation for Damage to Cars ("Material Damage")

Your private insurance contract covers material damage. If your car was damaged in the accident, you should contact your insurer.

To speed things up, you can send your insurer the joint report or the number of the police report.

Your insurer will determine what part of the accident was your fault. This allows your insurer to calculate how much compensation you're entitled to based on a document called the Compensation Agreement. This is an agreement among car insurance companies. Your insurer uses it to determine what it will pay you for your loss. 

The amount you receive depends on the following:

  • what part of the accident was your fault 
  • what your insurance contract covers (depends on whether you took the optional Chapter B insurance covering, among other things, damage resulting from accidents you caused) 
  • any deductibles that apply, that is, the amount your insurer does not cover and that you have to pay 

It is important to read your insurance contract carefully.

Depending on what your contract says, your insurer will either repair or replace your car.

Important! Before you get your car repaired, you must wait for your insurer to evaluate the damage and authorize the repairs.

You can choose the repair shop and send the shop's contact information to your insurer.


Reporting the Accident to Your Insurer: The Right Thing to Do

Do you have to report the accident to your insurer even if you plan to pay for the repairs yourself? Yes, you must report the accident if your insurance contract covers that type of accident.

Keep in mind that your insurer could learn about the accident if the other driver reports the accident to his or her own insurer.

All car accidents in Quebec are entered into the Automobile Claims Database. This is a bank of information on all car accidents that are reported to an insurance company. All insurers have access to it.

So if you don't report the accident, your insurer can find the other driver's report. Your insurer will only have the other driver's version of the accident. Your insurer might then think that you were responsible for the accident. This could affect whether your insurer will renew your contract or increase the amount you must pay for the insurance.

After you report an accident, you can still decide to pay for the repairs yourself. Your insurer will enter the accident in your file but will indicate that you are not getting any compensation.


Compensation for Injuries

As a Quebec resident, the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) compensates you for injuries you suffer in an accident. You're entitled to be compensated even if you're responsible for the accident.  

Anyone who uses the road, such as pedestrians, cyclists and passengers, are compensated if they're injured in an accident involving a road vehicle. 

The SAAQ covers various expenses related to the accident, such as medical costs, the cost of getting someone to help you at home and the income you lost.

To learn more about what the public insurance plan covers, visit the SAAQ website.

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.