When a person gets into an accident all logic can fly out the window. It is important to give some forethought to what you would do if you had the misfortune of being in an accident in order to protect yourself and your interests. So what do you absolutely need to keep in mind?

  1. Assess whether you or anyone involved needs medical assistance – This can be much more urgent than any of the other things that need your attention. Your very first thought should be the safety of everyone involved. Call an ambulance rather than trying to move an injured person unless they are in imminent danger.
  2. Take photos of the scene: The position of the cars on the road, broken glass, and debris can all be important indicators of what happened and whose fault it was. Before moving the vehicles, take pictures of these things. Be sure not to block traffic or put yourself anywhere unsafe while you’re doing this.
  3. Move the vehicles involved out of traffic – Ensure that no other accidents are caused by an obstruction of the road. If the vehicles are too damaged to move, turn on the 4-way flashers. This is for your safety as well as that of other drivers.
  4. Call the police – If the damage values more than $1000, it is actually legally required that you report it to the police. Remember: cars are expensive and damages add up quickly. What appears minimal could very easily be more significant than you assume.
  5. Get the other driver’s contact information – This includes full name, licence number, date of birth, address, licence plate, insurance provider and policy number. Keeping a pen and paper in your car is a good way to be prepared.
  6. Do not admit fault – It might sound insensitive, but you could diminish your legal rights by saying the accident was your fault. It is best not to assume blame. The determination of fault involves many things that might not be evident in the moment and should be done by professionals.
  7. Get contact information from any witnesses – There are probably people around who saw what happened. Get their information right away because it might be very difficult or impossible to find them again later.
  8. Stay civil – No one intends to be involved in an automobile collision. While you will feel many strong emotions following an accident, try to remember that the other driver is in the same boat and treat them with civility.
  9. Take care of yourself – Injuries are often not the life or death type that require an ambulance, but develop over time. If you feel pain, take the time to see a doctor and follow his or her advice for treatment. It is better to take a couple of days off work to heal adequately than to forge on and create lasting damage. For more information : “How to take care of yourself after a car accident”.

Don’t forget: There are many ways you can get help following an accident, for example your doctor, your insurance company, a lawyer, the police, or even the other driver’s insurance company, but it is also absolutely necessary that you make smart choices to help yourself.

Note – (Insurance companies should be approached with caution, for more information, see the future blog post “What you need to know about your insurance company” and “What you need to know about the other driver’s insurance company”).