Car accidents are unfortunately common. In the best case scenario, they are minor in nature and just ruin your day. On the other hand, they can result in serious injuries that may undermine your long term health, your ability to work, and even your capacity to care for yourself and your family.
If you are involved in a serious motor vehicle accident, take the following steps:
• Stay put: Do not leave the scene. Do not move your vehicle. Stay in your car unless doing so puts you at risk of further harm. If you do leave your car, move to a place of safety. Call the police and wait for help to arrive.
• Motor Vehicle Accident Report: When the police arrive, the investigating officer will speak to the parties and fill out a brief form called a Motor Vehicle Accident Report. This form contains the identification and insurance information of the parties, as well as details of the accident. You are entitled to a copy of this form. You may also ask the officer for his or her card for future reference. Following the accident, consider taking down your own notes of how the accident happened. It is also important to take pictures your vehicle and injuries for your records.
• Accept medical attention: If you are injured, proceed to the nearest hospital by ambulance or other means. Sometimes symptoms set in hours or days after an accident. It is equally important to seek medical help in these cases. Follow the recommendations of your treatment team, document your symptoms and seek ongoing care as needed.
• Contact your auto insurer: In Ontario, if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident you are entitled to certain benefits from your own insurance company regardless of fault. These benefits include medical and rehabilitation benefits, attendant care benefits, income replacement benefits, and other forms of support. To access these benefits, you must disclose details of the accident and injuries. Your insurance company will require your personal health, employment and care records to determine your eligibility. Various important deadlines apply for accessing these benefits so it is important to contact your insurance company as soon as possible to ensure no deadlines are missed.
• Get legal advice: Dealing with the fallout of the car accident is overwhelming. When you find yourself at your most vulnerable, you will be asked to understand legal regulations, provide personal information, and keep track of important deadlines. A reputable personal injury lawyer can protect your interests by advising of your rights and guiding you through the system.