The motor vehicle accident is, unfortunately, an all-too-common part of driving life. However, most of assume that ‘it won’t happen to me’, which means people are generally unprepared when an accident does occur.
Seeking medical attention, and if the accident is severe, involving the police are necessary and extremely important measures to be taken following a motor vehicle accident. However, there are other considerations about which one must be aware in order to avoid the risk of losing one’s right to pursue legal action through a car accident claim, and raising one’s insurance premiums despite not being at fault.
“Oh, I am so sorry”, is something that many people have learned to say as a matter of simple courtesy and respect for others. But, in the event of a car or motorcycle accident, that seemingly innocuous expression can easily be interpreted to mean: “I accept the blame. You should not admit fault in the aftermath of an accident until you have spoken to legal counsel; by admitting culpability you may undermine or even forfeit your rights to pursue a car accident claim. All drivers assume a duty to drive carefully, and before a determination of all the facts and circumstances associated with your accident has been made, you simply should not admit fault or take responsibility for the accident.
Taking responsibility will directly impact your insurance claim, insurance premiums, and the option of filing a claim to seek the compensation you are owed. Insurance and legal professionals are, by training and experience, the appropriate agents to assume responsibility for assessing the accident’s causes, and determining how fault is to be apportioned.
Keep a Complete Record
Whether it is a visit to the doctor, the receipt from your towing company, or any other expense related to the motor vehicle accident, you must carefully record and document the financial costs you incur. If need be, you can maintain a diary of your actions, medical visits, and insurance company communications—noting the particulars of each such instance. Such details can include dates of services and appointments, transactions, salient points of any meeting or communication, and more. As part of your documentation, you should maintain a thorough record of the corresponding receipts, prescriptions, and emails to help your lawyer build a comprehensive chronology of your accident-related activities.
Being able to produce carefully compiled and thorough records that document how the accident has impacted you establishes important evidence that your lawyer can present in arguing your case. Receipts of your expenses, records of the injuries you suffered and treatments you have received, and documentation of your loss of income will all contribute to the evidence that substantiates and strengthens your claim for compensation.
Informing Your Insurer
You must inform your insurance company of the accident as soon as practicable after the accident. Doing so indicates that you responded to the incident appropriately, and will lead your insurer to begin its own investigation of the accident.
Based on the severity and circumstances of a car accident, claims adjusters at your insurance company will have to file the accident under one of 40 accident scenarios described in the Fault Determination Rules.
Make sure you arrange an appointment to meet with your lawyers as soon as possible, as an experienced car or motorcycle accident lawyer will be able to guide and support you in filing your claim.
Do not sign any documents offered by the other driver or anyone claiming to be his or her representative. Beware that this is often a fraudulent procedure, which is intended to trick you in to forfeiting your car accident claim, or worse, dupe you into making a confession against your interests, which could be taken to court. The police are the only authorities who will present you with a document—their report of the accident—that you will be asked legitimately to sign. You are under no obligation to sign any other documents or sheets of paper that include any information about you or the accident. The other party involved in the accident is entitled to information regarding your identity, driver’s license, and insurance coverage. But any request to sign any document or put in writing any statement about the accident is inappropriate, and you should decline to do so.
It is highly inadvisable to accept any monies that parties involved in the accident offer you. Such offers may be an attempt to cover up an illegality—for example, a driver lacking insurance coverage—and scuttle the investigation. In such an event, contact your lawyers as soon as possible to seek their advice on the best course of action.
Many people are unaware of a very important consideration associated with motor vehicle accidents: there exists a limitation period—a time limit—that begins with the accident. Insurance companies must be contacted, collisions must be reported to the police, and personal injury options must be considered —all in a very short span of time.
- Insurance companies must be informed of the accident as soon as possible, regardless of who is at fault. This must be done within seven days of the accident occurrence, and an insurance company may not honor a claim that is reported after that period.
- Minor accidents—less than $2000 of damage to all vehicles—must be reported to the Collision Reporting Centre within 24 hours; an advisable step, as it helps formally record the accident.
- Even personal injury claims are time-bound. Whereas a claim can be brought within two years of the accident, a notice of claim must be sent within 120 days of the accident to an ‘at fault driver.’
An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to assist with all of these matters, and will do so in a strategic manner intended to optimize the compensation you will receive.
About Pace Law Firm
At Pace Law Firm we have seen thousands of motor vehicle accidents. Our lawyers and investigators know the ins and outs of virtually all types of accidents. We have helped clients maximize their claims, make sure that they are not blamed for accidents they did not cause, and have helped keep premiums to their pre-accident levels. Call us now to book an appointment with an experienced lawyer and start your insurance claim the right way.