Toronto police are changing the way they respond to minor crashes, including those that result in injuries.
Beginning on Tuesday, police will no longer dispatch a police officer to investigate a property damage collision or minor personal injury collision where the injured person is not immediately taken to a hospital.
"Our current model right now is not sustainable," Const. Caroline de Kloet told CBC News. "Officers highly trained are investigating what we call fender benders and it's much more practical to send these people to ... the collision reporting centre."
In a release issued Thursday, Toronto Police said collision rates have increased by approximately five per cent per year since 2013. In 2015, 44,063 collisions out of the total of 63,850 reported resulted in property damage, the release said.
Question of judgement
Toronto police argue that reserving officers for more serious collisions will be more cost-effective and reduce the delays that motorists face on the road from rubber-neckers.
But Daniel Michaelson at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers worries that might mean people involved in collisions will have to make quick judgements about their injuries.
"The question is judgement. I mean who determines if it's a minor injury or not, especially in the moments after an accident when people are usually in quite a state of shock?" Michaelson told CBC News on Monday.
"What if you've broken a wrist or something and don't even appreciate the nature of the injury because of the shock and adrenaline?"
Dispatch to screen calls
People involved in a collision can still call police if they are unsure of their injuries. Over the phone, dispatch will screen calls to help determine if an officer needs to come to the scene, de Kloet said.
But that's little comfort to Michaelson.
"You never want to have a situation when someone is more injured than they realize and not do the right thing which is that emergency medical personnel are on site and police investigate it properly," he said.
Police will still respond if the collision involves alcohol or drugs, if someone is taken to the hospital, or if there is an unlicensed or uninsured driver. They will also arrive if it involves pedestrians or cyclists and if the accident happened between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., when collision reporting centres are closed.