Tara Miller – September 2016
10 Things to Do Immediately Following a Car Accident
- Your Safety: First things first, you need to be concerned with your safety and the safety of those involved. Call 911 if necessary and only get out of the vehicle if you are clear of all traffic and doing so does not threaten your safety or the safety of others. Engage necessary signals on your car such as four way flashers.
- Involve the Police: Get the police report number and name of the reporting officer. In some locations, the police may not respond unless it is a serious accident with injuries or severe property damage. If they do not respond, file an accident report at the local police station as soon as possible.
- Exchange information: Get each driver’s name, phone number, address, insurance company, policy number, driver’s license number and license plate number. Write down the description of the vehicle, including the year, make, model, color and visible damage.
- Locate Witnesses: Record the names and contact information of anyone who saw the accident. This could include passengers in any of the vehicles involved or those on the street.
- Photographs: Take photographs of the accident scene (and video if possible). Make sure to include street landmarks, relevant street signage and traffic lights, lane markings, etc. Take photos of the vehicles involved in the accident depicting their placement, damage and license plates if possible. Also take photos of any visible injuries such as swelling, cuts and bruises.
- Don’t Discuss Fault: Do not discuss who was at fault for the accident. This is a determination for the police and insurance companies with your lawyer’s involvement. Cooperate with the police in their investigation by telling your story about what happened. Consult with a personal injury lawyer before giving any statements to other insurance companies about how the accident happened.
- Notify your Insurance Company: Call your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident and open any necessary claims. Know what your insurance policy covers ahead of time. This prevents worrying about things such as towing at the scene of the accident and car rentals if your vehicle is not drivable. In Nova Scotia, you will have entitlement to no-fault accident benefits for medical and rehabilitation treatment and income loss replacement through your own insurance if required.
- Medical Treatment: See a doctor as soon as possible after the accident and follow recommendations including tests, treatment and therapy. The treatment you receive can be used as compelling evidence of your injuries. Foregoing necessary medical treatment because you want to “tough it out” or “don’t have time” for treatment despite painful injuries will have a negative impact on a possible personal injury claim.
- Be Organized: As soon as possible, put all the information you received at the scene of the accident in one place. Write down everything you remember, from the weather, road conditions, how the accident happened and a diagram. Keep track of all expenses you have to pay arising from your involvement in the accident (medical costs, property damage, housekeeping assistance, registration costs for courses/events you could not attend due to your injuries). This will help you file a claim with your own insurance company and also assist in ensuring that when the time comes to settle any possible personal injury claim, you can properly document your losses and be compensated.
- Consult with a Car Accident Lawyer: Contact a lawyer, especially with car accidents involving injuries in Nova Scotia. Experienced personal injury lawyers, like those at MDW Law in Halifax, typically provide an initial free consult where they will review in detail relevant information specific to your individual situation. The insurance companies will be determining liability, so they will be contacting you for recorded statements, your authorization to receive medical information from your doctors, and so on. You may also be concerned with how you are going to pay for medical treatment, and what to do with your damaged vehicle and work you have missed. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you with this process while protecting your rights. It’s important that you have an advocate on your side and you will be empowered with information about the process ahead and how best to navigate it.