Motor Vehicle Accidents

What to Say to the Police, Other Drivers, and the Adjuster at The Scene of an Accident

Jacob Cathro
Content Writer

Have you been involved in a car accident in Canada? It can be difficult to know what to do, especially in the heat of the moment.  

Haven’t been in an accident yet? Check out our article on how to prepare for one, in case you are.

PainWorth has some tips to help you stay safe after an accident, gather evidence you’ll need, and make sure you’re on the quickest path to recovery.

What to Say to Police / Emergency Services

Are there injuries or notable damage to the vehicles in the accident? If so, the first thing you should do is call emergency services, even if the injuries don’t seem severe.  

If there are obvious injuries, it is vital that you tell these services immediately. Be honest with emergency services and don’t do anything that might slow their ability to aid those on the scene. Let medical professionals inspect you at the scene, and in the days/weeks after the incident. A professional medical report often shows injuries are more serious than originally thought.

When emergency services arrive, injuries will be attended to by paramedics. Police may ask you questions in order to file a report about the accident.  

Take notice if anyone is issued any tickets, as it could show who is at fault. Make sure to ask the police on-site for a copy of the police report—it will serve as evidence for the insurance company’s investigation of the accident.

Note that some cities limit when police will respond to an accident. If the accident isn’t “severe” enough, the police may not show up. Even if the police don’t show up to the scene, you should still submit a police report as quickly as possible. Remember that the first report on record can set expectations, so you’ll want to tell your story to the police before other parties if possible.

What to Say to Other Driver(s) / People at the Scene

Be extra careful about what you say to other people at the scene. Never willingly assume liability, never accept responsibility, or make any statement on who is guilty in the accident at the scene, even if you know it isn’t you. It’s not helpful and can hurt your claim later on.  

Never agree to pay anyone for damages related to the accident, accept money from them, or discuss exchanging money with them.  

Instead, focus on recording and documenting the facts of the incident. This includes each party’s insurance information, car registration, and license plate info. Take photographs of the scene, highlighting the damage to the car(s), any skid marks on the road, the weather conditions, and location of the accident. Be sure to also gather the names and contact details of any witnesses.  

Take notes of any passengers in other vehicles, any pedestrians, and other's injuries. Record anything that could be important later on about the scene of the accident. This could include the weather, poor visibility, or construction. It could also include a distracted driver or if a driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If the other party acts aggressively, try to avoid confrontation. Tell them that your insurance companies will sort out the details of the accident later.  

What to Say to Your Insurance Adjuster

When you first tell your insurer that you intend to file a claim, it is called the “first notice of loss.” The first notice of loss begins your claim. This can be done via phone or email. When reporting and following up on your case, be sure to instantly identify who you are. Have your policy number and any other supporting documents in hand and in writing.  

Some people decide to call their adjuster from the scene of an accident. However, we recommend waiting 24 to 48 hours before reporting your case to your insurer. This is because car accidents cause adrenaline, which can make your body numb to your injuries. For this reason, you might make statements at the scene of the accident about "feeling completely fine" or being "totally unharmed," only to later realize you are suffering worse than you first thought.

When an accident happens, it might not be easy to know what happened right away. For example, a driver might have hit you while distracted on their phone, but you may not have noticed this detail. For this reason, do not try to draw conclusions about who is responsible. Fault will be determined by legal statute, the adjuster, or court. Guessing what happened or accepting any fault can result in you losing the damages you are owed.

(NOTE: If you were involved in a hit-and-run, most insurance companies ask that any damage be reported to the police within 24 hours for the claim to be considered)

Once you have submitted a claim with your insurer, it’s important to cooperate with the adjuster. If you give them information and evidence quickly, they will settle your claim more quickly.

That said, avoid giving the insurance company open access to all of your medical records. When they ask for evidence, offer them only the info they need to assess the facts about your claim. Your historical information may be used against you.

Whenever you talk to your insurance company, avoid commenting on your injuries until you’ve had a chance to meet with your doctor. Many injuries take time to reveal themselves. The severity of those injuries may need testing to discover.

After you tell your own insurer, you might receive a call from another party’s insurance claim adjuster a few days after the accident. Remember, you must tell all adjusters the truth.  

The secret to negotiating your claim is making sure that all evidence and injuries are accounted for, investigated, and considered by all relevant parties. You will only be paid for what you are able to prove—so be mindful about protecting your rights as a personal injury victim.  

Not sure what your accident claim may be worth? Try PainWorth for free and find out today.

Haven’t been in an accident yet? Check out our article on how to prepare for one, in case you are.

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