Leaving the scene of an accident

Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can be a scary and unnerving experience. Nevertheless, if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident you must remain at the scene. A failure to do so could result in harsh consequences.

The law requires that you remain at the scene of a collision. Failing to remain is a serious offence and can result in convictions under both the Highway Traffic Act and the Criminal Code. If you are convicted under the Highway Traffic Act, you could receive a fine between $400 and $2,000, or imprisonment for up to six months. You could also have your license suspended for up to two years and face up to seven demerit points. If convicted under the Criminal Code, you could face imprisonment of up to five years. However, if you were involved in a collision where you knew that a person involved in the accident was injured you could face up to 10 years imprisonment.

Failing to remain at the scene of an accident can also impact a civil lawsuit. If you are sued by a person who was injured in the accident and they claim it was your fault, and you failed to remain on scene, it could negatively affect your case in two important ways. Firstly, a failure to stay at the scene could be interpreted as an admission of fault. Members of a jury could interpret you leaving the scene as an attempt to avoid punishment that you know would have inevitably resulted given that you were at fault for the accident.

Secondly, leaving the scene could negatively affect your credibility and likeability as a witness with a jury. Generally speaking, people want to help and believe those who they like. For example, people tend to like individuals who take responsibility for their actions and dislike those who try to run away from their mistakes. Furthermore, it reflects very poorly on you if you left the scene and it was obvious that you knew that you had seriously injured someone. Fleeing the scene of the accident could make you seem dishonest, untrustworthy, cowardly, and unlikeable. This is significant as it could lead members of the jury to preferring the evidence of the injured person who sued you if the evidence of how the accident occurred is disputed.

In summary, there is nothing to gain by leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident and, in fact, there could be serious consequences. It is important to abide by the law and remain at the scene if you are ever involved in a motor vehicle accident.

About the Authors

A born-and-raised Barrie resident, Karen knows and loves her community. She is proud to be a partner in one of Canada’s most successful personal injury law firms—right in her own backyard. Karen joined Oatley Vigmond in 2013 as an associate lawyer. She holds a BA from Queen’s University and her Juris Doctor from Bond University in Australia. Prior to being called to the Bar in January 2013, Karen articled at a well-known personal injury law firm in Toronto.

To learn more about Karen, please click here.