How To Tell Who Is At Fault In A Car Accident

Car Accident

A car accident can leave you devastated physically, emotionally, and financially. In addition to the physical injuries, dealing with complex legal issues and insurance claims may lead to a lot of additional stress. People are often clueless about the steps that need to be taken immediately after an accident.

Should you stop the car and call the police? Whose fault is it? Who will pay for the damage? Should you file a claim or not inform your insurance company at all? Who will determine who is at fault? Several such questions spring up after a car accident, and more importantly, you should know the answers to these.

An accident involving a crash between two or more vehicles may be an at-fault accident. It implies that one of the drivers was responsible or “at fault” for causing the accident. Determining who is at fault for an accident is necessary for insurance companies to compensate the injured victims.

Types of Accidents That May Occur On The Road

At-fault accidents include rear-end accidents in which the front of one car smashes the back of another. Usually, in such cases, the car’s driver at the back is considered at fault because he failed to maintain a reasonable distance, lost control of the car, and thereby caused the crash. However, the supposedly at-fault driver may argue that the car in front stopped suddenly, or his own car’s brakes did not function promptly.

Head-on collisions are another type of road accident involving cars. An inattentive or exhausted driver behind the wheel may cause a head-on collision, and it may result in fatal injuries to the driver and/or passenger of the victim’s car.

Driving under the influence (DUI) can cause T-side accidents that may result in bone, back, neck, and head injuries.

Should I Tell The Police?

People are often unsure if they need to report the accident. According to Ontario law, you need to inform the police and file an accident report in the following situations:

  • The damage involving both vehicles goes past $2000
  • The driver, passenger, or pedestrian is injured
  • A government vehicle is involved
  • The driver doesn’t have car insurance or a license
  • The accident involves DUI or impaired driving
  • The accident caused damages to municipal or private property

Should I Inform The Insurance Company?

As far as car insurance policies go, every accident needs to be reported, be it minor or significant. Many car owners believe that they needn’t inform the insurer if they don’t claim accidental damage. However, this is a misconception. In case of a car accident that involves a claim settlement, insurance companies run a thorough investigation. 

At-Fault System in Ontario

Car owners in Ontario can take advantage of a no-fault system in an accident. Note that “No”-fault does not mean that you’ll not be held accountable for an accident. Instead, it implies that you will deal with your insurer only when you ask for a reimbursement. It ensures speedy claim settlements, unlike its previous counterpart–the tort insurance system.

Who Determines Fault in Ontario?

The following personnel is responsible for getting into the thick of things after an accident:

  • Police officers who investigate the accident
  • Personal injury lawyers representing the injured parties
  • Insurance companies

Of the above, the insurance company plays a vital role in determining who is at fault since a lot regarding the payment or non-payment of compensation is at their discretion.

How Does An Insurance Company Determine Fault?

Finding evidence constitutes the backbone of at-fault investigations. Insurance companies conduct a thorough investigation before they settle any claims. The evidence-gathering procedure involves:

  • Collecting statements from drivers, passengers, and witnesses, if any
  • Collision report produced by the investigating police officer
  • The traffic camera, dash cam, and the redlight camera footage
  • Medical records of injuries detailing the impact of the crash

After compiling all the available information, the insurance company determines how the accident happened and who was at fault. For this, the insurance company follows Ontario’s fault determination rules.

Ways At-fault May Impact Your Insurance

Settling claims could be a complex process. Fault determination by the insurance companies ultimately determines how much you get from the insurance company and how much you need to shell out of your own pocket.

  • 0% at fault: Your premiums remain the same, and your record stays clean
  • 1-24% at fault: Your premiums remain the same, but your record gets tainted
  • 25%+ at fault: Your premiums hikes when you renew the policy, and it shows on your record as well

What Should You Do Just After A Car Accident

At fault or not, as a law-abiding and responsible citizen, you should do the following immediately post an accident:

  • Stop the car. Don’t flee the scene; else, you may be prosecuted under criminal charges.
  • If you can manage movement, take pictures of the accident scene, injuries, damaged vehicles, license plates of the vehicles, and drivers of the vehicles involved.
  • Call the police if the accident involves physical injury with damage exceeding $2000 or if you suspect a case of DUI driving.

Dealing With Your Insurance Company After An Accident

Whether you file a claim or pay the expense from your own pocket, it is mandatory to inform the insurance company of the accident. You need to submit a report ASAP, preferably within 24 hours but never later than seven days. If you take longer than that, your insurance company retains every right not to honour your claim.

Your insurance company might ask you for the following:

  • Your car insurance policy number
  • Your vehicle details, including the registration number, make, model, and year of purchase.
  • Location, date, and time of the accident
  • Your statement (written/verbal) about the accident
  • Details of the other owner, including his name and license number
  • Insurance details of the drivers involved
  • Details of the investigating police officer – his name and badge number

Pro Tip: Never suppress facts. Even if you are at fault, you may be eligible for consideration if it is your first accident.


It is imperative to note every tiny detail when you get involved in a car accident in Toronto. Besides date and time, taking notes of the weather and road conditions may come in handy when you furnish all details to your insurance company. Times like these demand professional and coordinating insurance companies. If you’re looking for car insurance in Toronto, specialists like Surex can help you find the best insurance provider for your needs.