What to do if you get involved in a car accident
Even the best driver can get into a collision. In fact, there are close to fifty-thousand car accidents happening in BC each year. It can be a very stressful experience, especially if it’s your first time and you’re not so sure how to react. To avoid making a potentially expensive mistake, you have to know what to do and not to do when you get involved in a car crash.
First, stay calm and keep yourself and others safe.
Make sure it is safe to get out of your vehicle. If not, stay in your car and turn on your hazard lights. If you notice anyone’s injured, call 911 and do not move them, wait for medical help to arrive. When adrenaline is flowing throughout your body, you might not feel injured at first. If you think you have invisible injuries or if you have young children with you, go get everybody checked at a hospital. You will need medical documented evidence for insurance and information on after-injury care.
Once you attend to everyone’s safety, it’s up to you to move your car off the road if it’s safe to do so. Remember, before you or the other driver move the vehicles, you want to take pictures of the accident scene. Capture the whole scene, including the weather and damages on both vehicles. A photo that shows the placement of both vehicles and the gap between them could be useful. You also want to see the items that have moved during the impact. Make sure to take pictures of any visible injuries and vehicle damage. Did anyone stop to assist that could be a potential witness? Ask them for their name and contact information.
Avoid discussing who’s at fault.
You might be tempted to apologize, but it is better not to do so until you have taken some time to get over the shock of the accident. You could be missing some details about what happened, maybe you’re not in the wrong and your apologies could be used against you later. If the other driver admit he’s at fault, don’t take his words for granted. People can change their mind after talking to friends or family members about what happened. That’s why good photos of the scene are very useful in these situation. Take a lot of pictures if it’s possible and write down all the details you can. Include time, date, weather conditions, etc.
Record the crash scene
You will need the name of the registered owner and the insurance details. Take an actual look at the other driver’s insurance papers to avoid being given false information. You may need to provide information to the police so get all the details you can. Make sure you record the following for all the vehicles and drivers involved in the accident: driver’s name, driver’s licence plate, province/state and contact info; year, make and model of vehicle. Any witnesses? In this case, you certainly want to note their names and contact information as well. Download our free car accident checklist and keep it in your glovebox.
Call your insurance company as soon as you can and make your claim in a timely manner, they may refer you to a repair facility where the work is guaranteed. It’s okay to seek medical attention and call a lawyer before making your claim. As for the police report, accident have to be reported within 24 hours in urban areas and within 48 hours in rural areas. However, if the damages do not exceed $1,000 ($600 if a motorcycle is involved) there is no need to report. But when in doubt, it is best to simply report the accident to the police as soon as possible. Do not sign any documents other than the police report.
In these stressful situations, most people are trying to be nice and calm. However, it is possible that the other driver involved will try to make you feel like you’re doing too much. Taking any direct offer of payment might not be advantageous for you. If you’re not at fault, the accident won’t affect your driving record, nor will you have to pay a deductible. Remember, it is better to collect information you may not need than to not collect information you might later wish you had!