First steps after a car accident
Most car accidents are, thankfully, minor and people usually step out of their vehicles unscathed. Unfortunately, even seemingly minor accidents can subsequently become the source of major headaches. As an experienced car accident lawyer, we know that every car accident is emotionally and physically challenging. Knowing what you should do to look after yourself and to safeguard your legal claim can prove to be immensely helpful in minimizing the stresses associated with the aftermath of your car accident.
What initially may appear to be a minor car accident can eventually have surprisingly consequences. Telling yourself that you are fine and the accident did not cause you any harm may lead you to dismiss subsequent symptoms. However, such physical problems as neck injuries, small factures, and muscle tears occur, as a result of so-called minor accidents, much more frequently than one would expect or most people recognize. In fact, the Ministry of Transportation, Ontario reports that, in 2016, there were over 35,000 car accidents in the province that resulted in instances of personal injury.
In this piece, we are talking about those ‘innocuous’ car accidents that we have seen, as a car accident lawyer, balloon into something far more insidious. To prevent those unforeseen and highly distressing developments, we present the following check-list of actions you should take, immediately following the accident, in order to minimize such unfortunate and upsetting consequences.
Stop your vehicle in a safe spot
If your vehicle is operative after the accident, pull off the road and into a safe spot. Remaining in the middle of a road or byway—particularly one with fast-moving traffic or blind curves—greatly increases the risk of another collision. If the other driver involved does not stop, do not give chase. A driver who fails to stop may be uninsured, may not have a valid driver’s license, or may have even committed a dangerous criminal act. Trying to intervene may put your safety at risk. The more prudent and appropriate option is to report the accident immediately to the police.
Regain your composure
When an accident occurs, the impact is both physical and psychological and, as a result, the immediate effect can be highly emotional and disorienting. Take a few minutes to breathe deeply and compose yourself. If necessary, inform the other driver that you need a few moments and ask him or her to wait.In the immediate aftermath of an accident, one is susceptible—due to being upset and shocked by the accident—to making hasty or careless statements and/or conducting oneself in a manner that is against one’s interests. A few minutes of waiting will give you the time to prepare yourself for your conversation with the other driver. If you feel it is necessary to do so, you may choose to take the opportunity to call your car accident lawyer, who will be able to guide you gently and patiently through the process.
Check for injuries
Begin assessing whether or not you have sustained any injuries by checking for visible cuts and lacerations. Calmly and cautiously attempt to be aware of any aches, pains, or unusual physical sensations. Be particularly mindful of your neck and back, as concussion, whiplash. and spinal injuries are often not immediately apparent, but can begin to be noticeable within minutes after the accident. Only when you feel ready and comfortable in doing so, should you try to move your limbs to check for broken bones and muscular injuries.
The shock you experience after an accident can take a while to dissipate fully, and you may not become aware of pain until later. Whiplash, concussion, muscle tears, and even internal bleeding may not manifest immediately.
Determining how the accident occurred and identifying the responsibilities of the parties involved in causing it are matters that insurance experts, the police, and lawyers must piece together after the event. Taking photographs of the scene, noting the prevailing weather conditions, and gathering any other evidence—such as dashcam footage—are all steps that help in documenting the circumstances associated with the accident and help explain how it occurred.
Try to take pictures of the damage the vehicles have sustained. But make sure that, in doing so, you do not put yourself in harm’s way. In addition, it is vitally important to keep receipts for the tow service, medical bills, or doctors’ prescriptions in order to document the financial costs you have incurred as a result of the accident. The simple takeaway: keep a record of everything pertaining to the accident.
Drivers are required by law to exchange their names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance policy particulars, driving licenses, and license plate numbers. If possible, discreetly make sure that the particulars of the other driver’s documents are consistent.
If the other driver becomes argumentative or hostile, and refuses to share his or her details, it could be an attempt to conceal some illegal behaviour. The driver may be uninsured, driving without a valid driver’s license, may be intoxicated, or may be involved in some other criminal activity. If you suspect that the driver is attempting to conceal something illegal, maintain your distance and report the accident immediately to the police.
Get in touch with your Personal Injury Lawyer
Get in touch with your personal injury lawyer to obtain help and guidance in filing an insurance claim that accurately reflects the circumstances and events associated with the accident, and seek advice on making legal claims that will compensate you adequately for your injuries and any property damage you have sustained.
Although the steps outlined above may seem obvious, they may seem less so if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident—with all of the attendant anxiety, stress, and shock that you may experience. You can take a print-out of this page for your information if you want. Following these steps will make sure you set the stage for a successful claim.
At Pace Law Firm, a reputed Toronto car accident lawyer, we help to ensure that your insurer accurately attributes fault for the accident, and the claims adjuster files your claim under the correct Fault Determination Rules. Call us now to understand how we can assist you in receiving the medical treatment you require and to which you are entitled, while also advocating on your behalf to maximize your compensation.