Car Accidents: At Fault or Not?

Last updated on December 1st, 2022

You’ve been in a car accident. Fortunately, there was more fear than harm and no one’s hurt! But one question remains: who’s at fault? Let’s take a closer look to get a better idea.

Car insurance coverage reminders

In Québec, for car insurance, third party liability insurance is mandatory. It covers:

  • Damage resulting from a collision when the insured person is not at fault
  • Property damage and bodily injury resulting from an accident that occurs outside Québec
  • Damage caused to a third party for which the insured person may be held liable

In plain English, it’s what we call “one-sided insurance.” Every vehicle owner needs third party liability insurance of at least $50,000, but people generally choose $1,000,000.

“Two-sided insurance”means you are covered for damage caused to insured vehicles. This can be a collision or an upset, or perils that are neither a collision nor an upset, including theft, damage from fire, wind, or hail, vandalism, and so on. Damage from a collision with people or animals is also covered, and various endorsements (additional coverage) are available.

Joint report

Back to the accident. The first thing you should do is prepare a joint report. This document lets the parties involved identify themselves and give details on the accident and damage caused to the vehicles. You can find one on the GAA (Groupement des assureurs automobiles) website.

Caution! The purpose of a joint report is to determine the facts; it is not an admission of liability.

Reporting the accident

You must report the accident to your insurer as soon as possible. Car accidents are recorded in a database managed by GAA for a period of six years.

Who determines liability following an accident?

Your insurer determines your liability in an accident. They do this using the Direct Compensation Agreement, an arrangement between auto insurance companies based on various principles. The Agreement applies to accidents occurring in Québec between two vehicles whose owners have been identified. It outlines the various possible scenarios along with ranges.

Important: The Agreement does not apply to hit-and-runs as the owner of the vehicle causing the damage is not identified. You can ask about this when shopping for car insurance.

Be careful on the road!