Five Steps to Take Immediately After an Auto Accident
A car accident can happen so quickly and unexpectedly. Sometimes it takes a few seconds to realize what just happened. A car accident is serious as it can cause injuries, expenses and an inability to work. In order to ensure that your legal interests are protected, certain steps are necessary after being in a car accident.
1. Check for Injuries
Once the collision is over, check for injuries that you and your passengers may have and if other drivers or passengers are injured. Call 911 for help as needed and don’t move anyone experiencing neck or back pain.
2. Call the Police
Call the police to the accident scene if anyone is hurt or the vehicle damage to the vehicles exceeds $2,000. Having police at the accident scene will ensure safety around the accident and allow for the accident to be documented officially. The police will investigate, lay charges if warranted, and prepare a report which documents the facts (e.g., weather, road conditions, location, time of day) and witness statements. The name and badge number of the investigating officer should be obtained.
3. Exchange Insurance Information
You need to share insurance information with the other driver as leaving the accident scene without exchanging information could otherwise qualify the accident as a hit and run. In communicating with the other driver, it’s important not to admit fault or blame or cast blame, discuss payment or accept an offer or sign anything. Don’t discuss the accident itself as statements made could be later used against you. Try to obtain:
- All drivers’ contact information, including insurance information and licence number, regardless of who is at fault;
- All witness’ contact information;
- All vehicles' make, model, year and licence plate number.
Make your own record of all the relevant information as the police may not share it with you and could make mistakes. If provincial offences charges are laid and the accused disputes the charges, you may not be able to obtain a copy of the police report until the matter has been dealt with in court. You will want to obtain:
- Collision details (e.g., date, time and location)
- Injuries (including yours) and condition of all parties (e.g., sober vs. intoxicated, manic vs. calm)
- Vehicle damage (including the other driver’s vehicle)
- Observations before, during and after the accident; and
- Photos of vehicle damage, from different angles and distances;
- Photos of location of the accident, including nearby traffic signs;
- Photos of skid marks (if any);
- Photos of road conditions (e.g., wet or dry, paved or gravel, any debris or pot holes);
- Photos of weather conditions (e.g., rain, snow, sleet, fog, cloudy, sunshine)
- Photos of visible injuries to the parties (including yours); and
- Photos of driver's licence and insurance policy of the other drivers (if possible).
If it is not possible to take photos at the accident scene, go back and take photos as soon as possible or ask a family member to do so. It should be recorded as to who owns the photos and when they were taken.
4. See Your Doctor
See your family doctor as soon as possible after the accident to document your accident injuries and assist with your recovery. Ensure that your doctor records all your injuries, including the location if you are sore or stiff. Be aware that non-visible injuries could have occurred that aren’t evident right away (e.g., in whiplash and brain injuries).
5. Consult with a Personal Injury Lawyer If You Were Injured
It is important to consult with a personal injury law firm as soon as possible if you were injured. Peter Unruh can assess your case and help you to access the accident benefits you are entitled to. He can also report the accident to the insurance company on your behalf. This way, you will not give information that an ICBC lawyer later uses against you.
Contact Peter Unruh, Personal Injury Lawyer in BC
If you have been injured in a car accident, Peter Unruh will review your case to determine if you should be compensated beyond ICBC Part 7 benefits for your injuries. The extent of your injuries and fault for the collision need to be assessed in order to arrive at whether you have a personal injury case for compensation. Call Peter Unruh today, personal injury lawyer in Abbotsford, at 604-746-4357.