A Step-By-Step Guide To Motor Vehicle Accidents
Road accidents are frightening things, even if you’re not directly involved in them. When you get involved in an accident – or even just witness one – there are certain crucial steps you should take afterward. This guide will help you see to the crucial details without overlooking anything important:
1) Don’t Be Too Quick To Apologize
It’s become pretty widely known that you shouldn’t rush to take responsibility in the aftermath of an accident. Canadians are well known for politeness, but you need to resist the temptation to apologize immediately when you’re involved in an accident. The question of who is at fault isn’t always cut and dried in a serious accident. Hold off on your apologies and let ICBC decide which parties – if any – are at fault.
2) Dial 911
You want to get emergency services (particularly the police) involved sooner rather than later if the accident has caused any injuries or caused serious property damage. (As a rule of thumb, you should call 911 if you think the damages exceed $1,000.) Go ahead and dial 911 at the scene of the accident if you think the police might be needed. The dispatcher you speak to can make the ultimate call about which emergency services to dispatch. Remember that the priority for first respondents is to deliver medical attention where it’s needed, so calling 911 will allow them to swing into action.
Note that if you decide a call to 911 isn’t needed (i.e. there are no injuries and minimal damage), you should still exchange contact info with the other people involved in the accident. All road accidents need to be reported to ICBC; you might get yourself in trouble with your insurance company if you ignore the Motor Vehicle Act by failing to report an accident.
3) Collect Documentation
As long as you have the means to do so, you should document the scene of the accident as thoroughly as possible. Now that most people are carrying decent cameras with them everywhere they go (e.g. smartphones), it’s a lot easier to record pertinent information after an accident.
Here’s a list of key photos you should take:
* Driver’s licenses and insurance records for all drivers
* The scene of the accident
* Any vehicular damage
* Tire tracks and debris in the road
* License plates
* IDs for any witnesses (with their consent)
You should also try to gather contact information for any and all emergency personnel who show up at the accident. Make some general observations about the precise location of the accident and the weather conditions at the time, too.
4) Report In To ICBC
As noted above, you have a responsibility to report all accidents to ICBC within 24 hours, even if you don’t need to call emergency services. You can reach them online at icbc.com or call them at 1-800-910-4222. Leaving an accident unreported or not contacting ICBC promptly can cause problems. They need to hear about all BC accidents. At this early stage, ICBC will start gathering general information about the accident.
Bear in mind that the ICBC representative will record everything you say, and your statements could carry legal weight in the future. Limit yourself to the information you know to be correct; don’t make any speculations at this time.
5) Seek Medical Attention
If you have any non-emergency medical needs following the accident, this is the time to make an appointment with your doctor.
6) Seek Legal Counsel
Find yourself a lawyer once you feel ready to work with them. Consultations on personal injury cases related to accidents are usually free. Lawyers are extremely helpful, as they’ll help you deal with insurance companies, fulfill your responsibilities, and secure the fair compensation you deserve.