What to do if you’ve been in a car accident

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Accidents happen. It can be your mistake or another driver’s fault. It could also be due to bad weather or difficult road conditions. Whatever the reason, remember the following steps and know them in advance. You never know when accidents will happen:

  1. Stay calm and check for injuries

    Do not panic. You may be surprised, hurt or angry after the accident, especially if you are the one hit. Do your best to stay calm so that you’ll have enough presence of mind to take the right steps after the accident. Take a deep breath. Check yourself for any injuries. See if your passengers are ok. If you or anyone of your passengers is badly hurt, call 911 or ask someone to call for you.

  2. Move to safety

    If you are not injured and are able to drive your car, move it to a safe location that is close by. Don’t leave the scene. Turn off your engine, turn your hazard lights on and set a reflective triangle or cone to warn other motorists. Wait for assistance.

  3. Exchange driver’s info and document the incident

    Regardless of who was at fault, it would be important to get information about the other driver. Using the MPI accident report form, get the other driver’s name, vehicle owner’s name (if not the driver), address, contact numbers, driver’s licence as well as the vehicle type. Also note down when, where and how the accident happened. Take photos of the incident as well as the vehicles that were part of the accident. Important: Ask witnesses in the scene if they can help you during the investigation or MPI assessment. They can support and verify your report of the incident. Get their names and contact numbers.

  4. Call the police only if there is a:

    • fatality
    • hospitalization because of injury
    • an unlicensed driver or unregistered vehicle
    • an unidentified vehicle (e.g. hit and run)
    • you failed to get the other driver’s information
    • you suspect that the other driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs

    You must report accidents within seven days.Vehicle damage resulting from suspected vandalism, attempted theft and theft must also be reported to the police. Report it as soon as possible Reporting a vehicle collision claim.

  5. Call Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI)

    Even if police was called to the incident, it is your responsibility to call MPI. Report it even if you have no damage from the accident. There may also be instances when the other driver will ask if you can forgo reporting the accident to MPI and settle the issue outside of autopac. This is usually done when they are at fault to avoid pulling down their level in the Driver Safety rating scale. This increases insurance premiums. Some drivers agree to this, especially when there is only minimal damage to their vehicle and when they are sure that the other driver is able to pay for repairs. However, keep in mind that there are risks to this arrangement. For instance, if the other driver reports the incident to MPI without your knowledge, you may find yourself at a disadvantage. Also, if you find out later that the damage was more extensive than you thought, it might be harder to negotiate with the other driver. Read 5 signs it’s time to settle a car accident and 5 that it’s not by Barbara Marquand (CarInsurance.com) to help you weigh the risks.

    If you are claiming damage, a representative will get a preliminary report from you. This is why it is important to have all the details noted down. The representative will then make an estimate appointment for you. Don’t forget to write down your MPI claim number after the call.

    If your vehicle is too damaged to be driven, MPI will arrange for it to be towed to their compound where they will estimate the damage.

  6. MPI evaluation and repair

    If the vehicle is with you, do not have it repaired before MPI has inspected the damage. The MPI estimator will assess the damage of your vehicle at an approved service centre. Your options for a damage estimate will be discussed with you after the assessment.

    If you want to know more details about how MPI assesses damage, download the pamphlet Who’s at Fault (Frequently Asked Questions).

It always pays to be prepared in advance

The best defense against any emergency is to be prepared. If you drive every day, it would be wise to be prepared for any contingency on the road. Always have the following on hand:

Proper documents:

  • Registration
  • Licence
  • Insurance
  • Health card
  • MPI accident report form

Your emergency kit should contain:

  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Seatbelt cutter and window breaker
  • Flares, reflective triangle, or orange cones
  • Emergency numbers (MPI, emergency contact (next of kin), police, hospital, etc.)
  • Phone (also for taking photos). Make sure that the battery is always charged.

At the very basic, always follow traffic rules. Know road conditions ahead of time (especially during winter in Manitoba) and be prepared. Drive safe!

Sources: Claims for damages, losses or injuries, MPI; What to do in the event of an accident, MIG Insurance. All accessed Sept. 26, 2017.

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Community Resources

Learn more about your basic insurance or Autopac coverage from Manitoba Public Insurance.

Injured in accident? Learn about Autopac’s Personal Injury Protection Plan.

The Immigrant Centre offers Driver Education Classes to help you prepare for the written test. Registration required.

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