What to do if you're in one of Toronto's nearly 200 daily traffic collisions

There were 70,004 collisions in the city in 2016. What should you do if you're in one? Here are a few tips.

According to Toronto Police, there were 70,004 traffic collisions in the city in 2016

Toronto police say there were more than 70,000 collisions in Toronto in 2016, averaging out to almost 200 per day. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

It's going to be several days before we know if Tuesday's snowfall came with the expected uptick in vehicle collisions on city streets.

Toronto Police don't have a specific number yet, but the last time the city saw these same wintry conditions there were over 100, according to Toronto Police Const. Clinton Stibbe. 

It may surprise you to know — that's a good day in Toronto.

According to Stibbe, there were 70,004 car collisions reported in the city last year, averaging out to approximately 192 per day.

So if you're one of the thousands who finds yourself in a crash, no matter the weather, what do you do next?

Here are some tips.

Whose fault is it?

First things first. If you're in an accident, call police and any emergency services needed.

Afterwards, in most cases, you'll be directed to a collision reporting centre. 

In March of 2016, police changed how they respond to collisions. If there's evidence of criminality, meaning a driver that's unlicensed, uninsured or impaired, they will still attend the scene, according to Stibbe, but if there are only minor injuries and the property damage doesn't exceed $2,000, police will not attend. 

If you're in the latter category, you and your car will be directed to a collision reporting centre where you can fill out a report. Officers will look at and take photos of the damage to your vehicle, and they will review all of the evidence before handing it over to your insurance company. 

"The insurance companies are the ones that will determine fault analysis for deductibles," Stibbe said. "In certain cases we will lay charges depending what the officers at the reporting centre find."

At this point, media relations director John Bordignon with State Farm Insurance says you should contact your insurance company.

All police information will be handed over to them. A claims representative will consult the evidence, as well as the Fault Determination Rules set up by the province, to come up with a conclusion.

Police say 77 of the collisions in 2016 resulted in fatalities. That's an 18 per cent increase from 2015. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

What if I didn't do anything wrong?

If you believe you're not at fault, there is another option. Michael Smitiuch, a personal injury lawyer with Smitiuch Injury Law, pointed to a recent case he won in Hamilton, where a judge ruled the city and its faded stop line were half responsible for a 2006 crash that paralyzed a Haldimand man.

In the judge's ruling, he noted the city could've spent $100 to repaint a stop line, and without doing so, they at least partially caused a collision that left one man a quadriplegic at 37.

Similarly, Smituich said the same logic can be applied to this season's wintry conditions.

"If they fail to salt or sand the road ... when they knew that there was going to be a storm, that may give rise to fault or liability against the city."

Drivers at fault can also seek funds through their workplace for short-term or long-term disability coverage, he said.

As part of your insurance policy, you can also access basic accident benefits whether you're at fault or not, Smitiuch added, and you can buy additional coverage for different types of injuries 

Can I take legal action?

An added layer of protection for those who are injured and considered not at fault for an accident is legal action against the driver who's considered to have caused the accident, Smitiuch said.

This action would come in particularly handy if your insurance coverage doesn't meet all of your needs.

"If it looks like things are going to be more long term and ... you'll have losses into the future, that's when we'll look at a lawsuit against the other party," he said.

If you're unsure if that's the right choice, Smitiuch said most personal injury lawyers will speak with potential clients free of charge.

You also shouldn't have to worry about legal costs until your case is resolved.

"Almost all personal injury lawyers do not require any payment up front," Smitiuch said. "All of our cases are on a contingency basis, meaning we only get paid upon the successful resolution of the case. If for some reason we do not recover compensation, there are no fees or expenses charged by us to the client."

The scene of a crash in early January, where Toronto police say a man was seriously injured after a collision between a truck and a car at Dufferin Street and Steeles. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

In general, Smituich advised anyone involved in a collision to carefully document the incident.

"From a lawyer's perspective, it's the evidence and paperwork that usually win the day," he says. "In the long run, everything will come down to the paper trail that existed from the point of the accident onwards."

That includes pictures of the damage done to your vehicle, the other person's vehicle, your visible injuries and any documents provided by a physician, Smitiuch said.

Due to the changes in the way police attend collisions, there isn't always a guarantee this type of information will be collected. 

What happens to my insurance?

Of course, according to Bordignon, the best way to keep your insurance premiums down is to have the cleanest driving record you possibly can.

But if you do get into an accident, many insurers offer something called "first-time forgiveness," which means your premiums won't be raised if it's your first incident. 

If you get into another collision, that could have an impact on your premium. Bordignon said the number of claims you have, the severity of your collision, your policy and your provider will all factor into whether your premium stays the same or goes up.

If you're not at fault, your premiums won't be impacted, Bordignon said.


Taylor Simmons

Digital associate producer

Taylor Simmons is a digital associate producer for CBC Calgary. She has a masters in journalism from Western University and has worked as a multiplatform reporter in newsrooms across Canada, including in St. John's and Toronto. You can reach her at