A car accident can be a scary event, especially if there is an injury involved. While your immediate safety is the most important thing to look after, it is important to know the steps to take to protect yourself legally.
First Steps – Safety
Immediately following a car accident, ensure that you and any other individuals involved in the accident are safe. If possible, move yourself and any other involved parties to a safe location at the roadside. If you or someone else needs immediate medical attention, be sure to call 911 or have someone call for you. Depending upon the nature and the circumstances of the accident, calling 911 may result in the attendance of the fire department, paramedics or the police. In some cities that cover wide areas, you can expect the attendance of either the local police or the OPP (for example, cities like Sudbury or Timmins).
Do not move if you believe you may have suffered a back or neck injury, and await professional medical attention. Also, do not attempt to move a passenger or other involved individual if he or she appears to be seriously injured as movement could result in further aggravation of the injuries. Wait for a medical professional, if possible.
Collect and Exchange Information
Attempt to collect information from any other driver(s), passengers or individuals otherwise involved in the accident. You may wish to collect the following information from other involved individuals:
- Phone number
- Vehicle plate number
- Vehicle make, model, colour
- Insurance company
- Insurance policy number(s)
- Damage to vehicle(s)
- Passenger name(s) and position(s) in vehicles
Do not leave the scene of the accident, especially if the damage to the vehicles is likely to total over $2,000. You must report all accidents to the police. If you fail to report a motor vehicle accident with damages totalling over $2,000 you may be charged under the Highway Traffic Act R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 199 (1) with a failure to report an accident. This may also impact any claims you may pursue in relation to your injuries.
Take photographs and video key aspects of the accident as it may prove useful in any legal disputes following the accident. This includes; damage to vehicles, road signs, visible injuries, or other relevant factors (e.g., weather conditions, street lights).
Check in with a Physician
Even if you feel that you were not seriously injured during the accident, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. He or she can help rule out any injuries you may not have been aware of at the time (e.g., a brain or spinal injury). In some cases, they will make arrangements to have you transferred to a trauma hospital if they cannot serve your immediate medical needs (for example, trauma patients in Timmins are often transferred to Health Sciences North in Sudbury).
Visiting a physician also helps accurately document your health condition in the immediate aftermath of an accident. This documentation may help support any legal action you choose to pursue. You may wish to obtain any copies of medical records as supporting evidence for your personal injury claim.
Notify Your Insurer
Notifying your insurer of your involvement in an accident is extremely important. This allows you to open a claim file. In Ontario, there are strict time limits and requirements on the right to pursue a claim. Under the Limitations Act 2002, c. 24, Sched. B, s. 4., you are only entitled to file a claim against the other driver up until the second anniversary of the accident. There are other limitations as well, for example, if you choose to pursue a claim, you must notify any other involved drivers within 120 days of the accident. Claims for Statutory Accident Benefits typically must be filed with the insurer within 30 days of the accident. Claims for property damage to your vehicle are also subject to strict time limitations.
It is advisable to notify your insurer as soon as is practicable – usually this is within 24-48 hours. If there are extenuating circumstances surrounding your case, consider contacting a lawyer to help identify any possible legal concerns. Some examples of legal concerns are:
- The involved driver being a minor (under 18 years of age)
- Injury not becoming apparent until months after the accident
- Serious brain injury resulting in inability to file a claim
Speak to a Lawyer
If you believe you may be entitled to compensation following an accident, speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. Doing so can help set the process in motion, while putting it off may adversely affect your claim. Promptly speaking to a lawyer can help secure and preserve useful evidence, document your memories of the accident, and help avoid any additional legal issues.
A personal injury lawyer will be able to help you obtain compensation for your injuries. A lawyer will also be able to help you navigate the legal system, and provide advice concerning any potential civil lawsuits. If you choose to pursue a claim, your lawyer can help advise on the timing of documentation and help identify any special circumstances related to your unique personal injury case.
Wallbridge Wallbridge Trial Lawyers Help With Injury Claims
When you need an auto accident lawyer in Sudbury, Timmins, North Bay, New Liskeard, Ottawa or anywhere in Ontario, contact our law firm. Our lawyers can help you identify legal concerns, file a personal injury claim, ensure you are within the required time frame, and deal with insurance companies. For more information about your personal injury case, contact us at 1-866-856-6197.