What To Do If You’ve Just Been in a Car Accident
A car accident in Alberta can be one of your worst nightmares, but taking a few moments to be prepared in the event of one can make a difference for your legal outcome.
Aside from the basic requirement that you stop your vehicle at the accident scene and remain there until no longer required, there are many aspects to consider after an accident, including what you say and do. This step-by-step guide below on best practices can help to prepare you so you can protect yourself legally.
Make the Necessary Phone Calls
If anyone, including yourself or the other driver is seriously hurt, you are required to provide reasonable assistance, such as calling for transportation to medical help. If you call 911 for an ambulance, this event will also dispatch a police officer to come to the accident scene.
If no one is hurt, you must still call the police to come to the accident if the damage to both vehicles exceeds $2,000 or if there was damage to a traffic safety device, railroad sign or signal, a parking meter or any public property. In other situations, your must report the accident at the police station yourself and can attend to your local collision centre.
You must also report the accident to your insurer as soon as practicably possible (i.e., within 24-48 hours), whether you wish to make a claim or not and regardless of who was at fault.
Identify Yourself and Exchange Insurance Information
After an accident, each driver should provide identifying information and proof of insurance or a financial responsibility card. In doing so, it is important not to discuss the accident with the driver, including discussing or admitting fault.
If you sense that the other party is intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, you should immediately call the police to come to the accident scene. If the driver refuses to provide their information, you should document their licence plate number, vehicle description and driver description before leaving the scene.
It is important not to discuss or accept payment from the other driver, which could also imply an admission of fault on the party offering the payment. The information you must exchange is the name of each party, contact information, the driver’s license number, and the vehicle’s make, model, year and plate number.
Get Witness Information
See what witnesses, if any, are around, and ask for their contact information even if they only saw what happened after the accident.
Take Photos and Video If Possible
When it is possible, take photos and video of the accident scene, including the road location, nearby signs, the vehicle damage and injuries. Be sure to snap photos of any skid marks on the road. A regular cell phone camera will suffice. If you cannot take these because you are too injured or don’t have a camera with you, ask a friend or family member to or go back to the accident scene as soon as possible to take them.
Get the Medical Attention You Need
After a car accident, it is best to see your family doctor as soon as possible, even if you saw specialists at the hospital. You want your doctor to know about the accident in order to help you with your recovery and to document how you are faring, including about how you are feeling about your injuries. Some injuries (e.g., whiplash and brain injuries) might not be immediately visible and could take days or weeks to show up, in which case you should go back to see your doctor for further assistance.
It will be important to, not only tell your doctor about all your symptoms and injuries without underreporting or any exaggeration, but also to ensure that your doctor records them all. You should follow the instructions provided by your doctor and make a follow up appointment if your doctor asks you to or if your condition does not improve.
Make Your Own Accident Record
Aside from photos and videos, which are excellent evidence to have, it is a good idea to prepare your own written record about the accident, including the date, time, location, road and traffic conditions, the weather, and what exactly happened from your viewpoint.
In making notes, you should record what you saw, including what you observed about each party, the injuries suffered and what the other party said and did. Write down where you believe the vehicles were before and after the accident and where the vehicle damage occurred.
If you are injured, a journal (e.g., at least weekly at first and then later monthly) is a good idea to keep to later help prove your injuries and to refresh your memory when it is needed for your legal case. You may need professional support if the accident caused you much distress.
Call Us at Ludwar Law Firm in Calgary If You Suffered Injuries
A car accident lawyer in Calgary or Lethbridge can assist you further at your free initial consultation. Our firm practices personal injury law in Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and the surrounding areas.
When you meet with our injury lawyers, we can inform you as to which laws apply to your situation, answer your questions and help you to get financial compensation for your injuries. Contact us today at Ludwar Law Firm at 1-877-682-3476.