Motor vehicle accidents can be overwhelming, especially if you are seriously injured. Whether the accident is major or minor, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your legal interests. An experienced Vancouver lawyer can help guide you through the process. Here are our top 10 things to do following a motor vehicle accident.
- Remain at the scene. Never drive away from the scene of an accident without stopping, even if it seems minor.
- Stop safely. Bring your vehicle to a stop in a place not blocking the road, if possible to move it safely. Otherwise, leave your vehicle where it is and get yourself and your passengers to safety.
- Check for injuries. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If you are not too injured, check on the well-being of the occupants of others involved in the accident such as the driver and passengers of the other vehicle, a pedestrian, or cyclist.
- Call for help. Call 911 if anyone is injured, if the accident has caused significant damage to vehicles or property, if the other driver leaves the scene without exchanging information (a hit-and-run), or if you have any other concerns (for example, the other driver seems intoxicated or is refusing to provide insurance information).
- Get the other driver’s information. Key pieces of information to obtain are the other vehicle’s licence plate number; the other driver’s full name, phone number and driver’s license number; and the other driver’s insurance details, including the name of the registered owner of the vehicle. Write it all down—or better yet, take pictures with your phone to preserve the information.
- Take pictures of the scene. Photographs can be invaluable to proving your claim. Take pictures of the resting position of the vehicles, any visible physical injuries, damage to vehicles, and any noteworthy aspects of the accident scene (for example, an obscured traffic sign, broken streetlight). Ask one of your passengers or a bystander to do it for you if you are too injured.
- Gather witness information. If there are witnesses, get their full names and contact information. Evidence from an independent witness about how the accident occurred or what happened at the scene may be needed later, and will typically carry a lot of weight in a personal injury claim.
- Document the accident—as accurately as possible. In addition to photos, take notes about how the accident happened and any details of note (e.g. time, weather or lighting conditions). Draw a sketch of the scene if you are unable to take pictures. Be accurate in what you say to the police and the other driver, and do not guess or make up information if you are unsure—these statements may later damage your insurance claim.
- Seek medical attention. Go to an emergency room or see your family physician as soon as possible after the accident, even if you think your injuries are “not that bad.” The severity of injuries is often not immediately apparent (e. g., whiplash/soft tissue injuries, concussion/brain injury).
- Report the accident to ICBC. Call ICBC’s 24/7 claim reporting line or report your claim online. When reporting the accident to ICBC, do not say you are “fine” if asked about injuries and do not admit fault for the accident.
Lastly, if you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, the best thing you can do is reach out to an experienced Vancouver lawyer. Simpson, Thomas & Associates can answer your questions, protect your legal rights, and guide you through the personal injury claim process. Contact us at (604) 689-8888 to schedule a free consultation with one of our team of experienced lawyers (Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey/Delta, and Abbotsford office appointments are available, as are virtual appointments).