Paine Edmonds LLP - Blog
What To Do If You Get Into a Car Accident in Vancouver?
If you have been involved in a car accident, it is easy to panic and lose sight of what steps you should take to protect yourself not only physically, but legally.
Below is a chronological guide outlining many of the steps you should take after you have been in an accident, particularly if you have been injured and may want to seek compensation from the other driver and/or accident benefits under the no-fault provisions of your ICBC policy.
Move to a Place of Safety and Ensure the Safety of Others
First and foremost, take care of your own well-being and the well-being of any children or injured parties. If the accident occurs on a highway, ensure you are out of the lane where drivers pass and you are positioned well onto the shoulder of the road.
If any person has been critically injured, immediately call 911. If a person is only mildly injured and is in a place of danger, help him or her get to a place of safety. If the person is suffering back or neck pain and is unable to move independently, then do not move him or her unless there is a serious risk that he or she will get injured further at that location (e.g., hit by another vehicle). Paramedics are best suited to ensure that anyone with an injury is moved without risking further injury.
Stay at the Scene of the Accident
Never leave the scene of an accident, for any reason when anyone is injured. Doing so can have severe repercussions, including the potential for criminal charges to be laid against you for a hit-and-run offence.
Call the Police
If anyone is injured, you should contact the police to come out to the accident scene, even if the injuries do not appear to require immediate medical attention. It is imperative to have the police attend at the scene so they can file a report that will help ascertain questions about who the at-fault party is, and to take any witness statements.
Failure to have the police attend at the scene of an accident will make it much more difficult to prove liability against an at-fault driver if you wish to make a claim.
Take as many pictures as possible at the scene of the accident from different angles and lengths. A variety of types of photographs will be useful for assessing different legal issues that may arise, including the extent of your injuries, damage to your vehicle, the weather conditions, and which driver was at fault. Here are a few types of photographs you should take:
- Your visible bodily injuries, including lacerations and bruises
- Any skid marks leading up the final physical location of the vehicles
- The damage to your vehicle, including any parts that became detached, and where they landed relative to the vehicle
- The relative positioning of the involved vehicles to the lanes
- The intersection where the accident occurred, if applicable
- Any signage near the accident and its location from the accident
Get the Other Driver’s Insurance and Contact Information
Write down the license plate number for the other vehicle. Ask the other driver for his or her contact information, including address and phone number, and basic insurance information. Always be polite in communicating with the other driver, regardless of who is at fault — you will be much more likely to elicit the information you need.
Report the Accident to ICBC Immediately
It is important to report your accident to your insurer immediately, even if you do not believe you are at fault. You can get in serious trouble with your insurer, and may even end up being denied coverage, if they find out that you failed to report or lied about the circumstances of the accident.
If There is a Possibility You Have Been Injured, See a Physician
Even if you have only minor aches and pains at the time, ensure that you see a physician. What at first seem to be minor injuries can sometimes result in chronic pain. If that happens, you may want to seek compensation by bringing a legal claim. It is good to have a track record of exactly when your injuries arose, so it is clear that your medical issues are tied to the car accident.
Get a Property Damage Valuation
If your vehicle has been seriously damaged, you will want to enlist one or more professional opinions on how much the damage will cost to fix, whether the car is a write-off, and what the replacement value of the car is.
If the other driver was at fault, you will need to have an accurate representation of the damage to present to the insurer when seeking to be compensated for your losses.
Do Not Accept a Settlement Offer Without Speaking to a Lawyer
If ICBC has been in contact with you, and is offering to settle any claim you may have for both your personal injury and property damage, it is highly advisable to speak to a personal injury lawyer.
Accepting a settlement offer will generally bar you from any type of future legal claim against the at-fault driver in relation to the accident. If you are either unsure of the extent of your injuries, or how much compensation you ought to receive for them, it is unwise to accept a settlement proposal without speaking to a lawyer.
Speak to a Car Accident Lawyer in Vancouver at Paine Edmonds LLP
If you are considering any type of legal claim in relation to a car accident, it is always advisable to speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer who understands motor vehicle and insurance laws. A Vancouver injury lawyer can help ensure that you receive the maximum possible settlement available to you. We deal with ICBC injury lawyers routinely. Contact us at 604-683-1211 for your consultation.