What to do in an accident

IMPORTANT: These recommendations are intended solely as general guidelines. They do not constitute legal advice. If you are not sure of how to proceed in a given situation, consult a professional.

In Quebec, an accident involving a cyclist or pedestrian must be evaluated to determine whether or not it constitutes an automobile accident for the purposes of the SAAQ (Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec) public automobile insurance plan. If the accident does fall under this category, the only thing covered by the plan is bodily injury.

Here are some examples of common accident scenarios and what to do if they occur.

You are out cycling and you get into an accident involving a registered motor vehicle in motion (car, motorcycle, truck, etc.).
Except in very rare circumstances, this would be considered an automobile accident for the purposes of the Quebec public automobile insurance plan. You would therefore, in theory, be covered by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ). You may even be covered if you don’t come into direct contact with the vehicle.

What to do
If you are still lucid, it is important to have the police write up an accident report or prepare a joint report with the driver of the vehicle, even if you are not seriously injured. You should also take note of the names of any witnesses that happen to be on the scene. If you do sustain any injuries, no matter how minor they may seem, or if you are unsure about their severity or extent, you are urged to seek medical attention within 24 hours of the accident. You may experience delayed onset of discomfort or pain. You have three years following the accident or the first sign of bodily injury caused by the accident to make a claim for compensation. You can download a compensation claim form from the SAAQ website: saaq.gouv.qc.ca/en/accident_victim/compensation_process/index.php.

If you incur any property damage (to your bicycle, clothing, etc.) and there is ample evidence that the accident was caused by the driver of the vehicle, you can take your case to civil court (the Small Claims Civision of the Court of Quebec, for example) to claim compensation.?

You’re riding your bike when suddenly a car door opens and you crash into it.
Most incidents of this nature are considered to be an automobile accident under the SAAQ (Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec) public automobile insurance plan. You would therefore, in theory, be covered by the SAAQ.

What to do
See “What to do” in Scenario #1.

You are riding your bicycle and you collide with a parked motor vehicle with no driver.
You sustain injuries as a result of the accident.
This would not be considered an automobile accident under the SAAQ (Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec) public automobile insurance plan.

What to do
This is a matter for your personal insurance. If you yourself have caused property damage, your home insurance coverage may protect you in the event of a claim.

You get into a collision with another cyclist or pedestrian.
This would not be considered an automobile accident under the SAAQ (Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec) public automobile insurance plan.

What to do
If you intend to bring proceedings against the other party because you feel they are at fault, make sure you have a police officer file an accident report. If you sustain any injuries, you are urged to seek medical attention within 24 hours of the accident. Generally speaking, if liability can be proven, the liable party’s insurance company will cover the corresponding damages.

If it is unclear who is at fault or if you are the one who is responsible for the accident, the other party may bring proceedings against you. In most cases, this would be covered by your civil liability insurance policy (included in your home insurance). Contact your insurance representative as soon as you can. It is possible that, at some point during the process, the party at fault may decide to accept responsibility and propose a settlement.

Are you a member of Vélo Québec Association? Click here to find out more about the accident insurance policy that comes with your membership.

You get into a bike accident due to poor surface conditions or the presence of an obstacle on the roadway.
This would not be considered an automobile accident under the SAAQ (Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec) public automobile insurance plan.

What to do
If you sustain physical or property damage and wish to take legal action, you must first determine the authority responsible for the upkeep of the street, road, trail or bridge involved. You will therefore have to make enquiries to the municipality, the Ministère des Transports du Québec, the bikeway authority and/or the federal government. Once you have this information, you need to act quickly. If the matter is a municipal one, you need to notify the city clerk by certified mail of your intention to bring proceedings against the municipality for bodily or property damage within 15 days of the accident. Municipalities even have a ready-made form for such circumstances.