Being in a car accident is a traumatic and unfamiliar experience, and it can be difficult to know exactly how to respond in the moment.
The team at Recovery Law has created a list of 10 steps you should take as soon as possible, in the unfortunate event that you are in an accident.
1. Gather Yourself
Your health and safety are the most important things to consider. If you’ve been in an accident, take a moment to compose yourself. Because your body and your mind will be bouncing with adrenaline, you may not realize you are injured. Take a few deep breaths. Being in a calm state of mind will help you make better decisions in the aftermath.
2. Ensure that You and Your Vehicle Are Safe
Do a personal inventory of your body —it is important to thoroughly check yourself over to determine the extent of any injuries. Don’t get overwhelmed! You can do this methodically, just start at your head and move down. Use your hands to pat down your body and check for any major injuries that need immediate attention. Move slowly and cautiously. After trauma, sometimes the body produces a natural anesthetic, which means you might be able to detect an injury with your hands before you actually feel it, internally. If you think you are or may be seriously injured, keep your seatbelt on, do not move, and wait for medical attention.
Next, turn your attention to your vehicle to determine if you are stopped in a safe position and location (eg: not in the middle of the road). If your vehicle is in an unsafe location but is drivable, move it to a safer spot, out of the line of traffic. Once you have moved your vehicle out of danger, or in the event that it is not drivable, put on your hazard lights and turn off the engine.
3. Check on Other Individuals
Once you have ensured your own safety, it is important to see if anyone else needs assistance, both in your own vehicle and among the other parties involved. Do not assume that another person is uninjured, even if he/she is out of their vehicle. Sometimes, serious injuries are not immediately apparent. Remember that everyone involved has experienced a shock.
If you suspect that another person is seriously injured, do not attempt to move him/her. Wait for emergency medical personnel.
4. Call for Help
If the collision is severe (whether or not you suspect an injury), call 911, immediately.
The emergency operators at 911 can determine the appropriate response for your given situation. They will dispatch First Responders from the Police, Fire, and EMT departments as needed. These professionals are highly trained to assess the accident and any injuries calmly and accurately, and will assist with any necessary immediate medical issues. When you speak with the 911 dispatcher, try to speak calmly and clearly, and be as honest and comprehensive about the details as you can.
If you cannot call for help, get the attention of a witness or a passerby to call 911 on your behalf.
5. Gather Information
In every collision, even if it is very minor, and regardless of who is at fault, you will need to collect the following information from every driver involved:
- First and last name
- Driver’s license number
- Registered owner of the vehicle
- Insurance details
- License plate number and province of issue
An easy way to capture this information is to take clear and legible photographs of the driver’s license, license plate, and insurance papers. Smartphones offer a convenient way to keep this information at hand in a moment when a pen and paper may be hard to find. If you don’t have a camera readily accessible, make sure you write this information accurately, and that you keep the paper someplace safe. It can be helpful to write the date, time, and place of the incident on that same page, as an easy and identifiable reference.
It is important to remember that people may be upset and hostile after an accident. Obtaining this information is in everyone’s best interest, but you should only attempt to do so as long as you are not under threat of further injury or damage. If you are in a hit and run, make your best efforts to attain the required information (witnesses can be helpful, here) in a safe and legal manner.
6. Take Pictures
It can be very helpful to take pictures of the accident scene and all of the cars involved. Take more photos than you think you will need, so that you have a comprehensive representation of the damages. If there are any signs of the collision on the ground, such as broken glass, skid marks, or vehicle pieces, try to photograph them before they are moved. The more detailed information you have, the easier it is to pursue any claim.
7. Locate Witnesses
If there are any witnesses to your collision, ask them to provide you with their names and contact information. Let them know that you may need to call on them in the future to recount what they saw. They may be able to provide you with details you were unaware of. In some cases, putting up a sign or utilizing social media can help you track down witnesses you may not have been able to speak with in the immediate aftermath of the accident.
8. Provide an Accurate Account of the Situation
It is a perfectly natural human response to focus on the elements of an accident that directly impact oneself. Unfortunately, that means that part of the story is not being told; it can be easy to overlook significant details that can help determine legal liability. The lawyers at Impact Law Corporation know how to ask the right questions to help you recall information about the accident that you may have discounted as unimportant. It is essential to speak with your lawyer to ensure you have a comprehensive account of the incident.
9. Visit your Doctor
It is important to the litigation process to establish the severity of your injuries right away after an accident. Visit your doctor as soon as possible, and make sure you discuss all of the problems you are experiencing, no matter how mild they may seem. Mention anything that hurts or feels “off”, and describe what occurred during the collision, as well. As a trained professional, your doctor may be able to identify connections between the accident and your symptoms that you have not considered.
It is also important to remember that injuries are not only physical. You may notice difficulty sleeping, mood swings, or emotional or personality changes. All of these should be reported to your doctor, as they can impact important medical decisions and diagnoses.
10. Contact your Legal Team
Not all lawyers are created equal. When choosing a lawyer to take care of your needs, consider:
Focus – Many lawyers have a broad practice. At RecoveryLaw Corporation, we only work for people injured in an accident, ensuring that our lawyers will provide you with the expertise you need.
Trial-Ready – ICBC knows which lawyers are willing to go to trial. The team at Recovery Law Corporation is prepared to fight for your benefits in court. Ideally, you will not have to go to trial, but being ready to do so will give you leverage during settlement negotiations.
Trust – In every lawyer-client relationship, trust is a must. At Recovery Law Corporation, we work hard to build trust from the first meeting. We are committed to open and honest communication, thoroughly understanding our clients’ situations, and truly getting to know each individual we work for.
We know that every accident is scary and distressing. Following these 10 steps can keep it from also being overwhelming. Knowing what to do in the event of a collision gives you a measure of control over the situation, so that everyone involved can resolve things safely. At Recovery Law Corporation, we want to ensure that you are well prepared to respond.
Contact the team at Recovery Law Corporation to learn more about how we can help you if you’ve been involved in an accident.