Summer road trips are a quintessential part of the season, but even the most meticulously planned road trip can be disrupted by an unexpected event. While a car accident might not derail your entire vacation, it can certainly throw a wrench in your itinerary and leave you feeling overwhelmed. However, knowing the right steps to take following a car accident can help you navigate the process with peace of mind.

This blog post is your summer travel safety net, outlining the essential steps you should take after a car accident.

Check for Injuries

The most critical step in the immediate aftermath of an accident is to ensure that everyone involved is all right. It is important to call the appropriate authorities to obtain police, fire and/or medical assistance immediately. Even if your injuries appear minor, it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible, as some injuries, like concussions or brain injuries, are not always immediately apparent.

Move the Vehicles to a Safe Location

If possible (and safe to do so), it is helpful to move the vehicles involved in the accident to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers to proceed with caution through the area. Moving the affected vehicles can avoid blocking traffic and reduce the risk of further collisions and injuries.

Remain at the Scene

It is crucial to remain at the scene of the accident until the matter is resolved. In fact, failing to stay at the scene of the accident can result in criminal charges, including the possibility of a fine or imprisonment.

Gather Information

If possible, at the scene of the accident, be sure to gather key information that may be required at a later time. At a minimum, it is important to obtain details regarding:

  • The location of the accident;
  • The road and weather conditions at the time of the accident;
  • The licence plate number, year, make, model, and colour of all vehicles involved;
  • Driver’s license and contact information for all parties involved;
  • Photographs of the collision scene and injuries; and
  • Witness contact information (if applicable).

In some cases, it may not be feasible to obtain this information, depending on the injuries sustained by the parties and the circumstances surrounding the accident. If you are not able to obtain this information at the time of the accident, it will typically be included in the police report or may be obtained at a later date through alternative means.

Call the Police or Report the Accident

In Ontario, you are required to inform the police of an accident if anyone is injured or more than $2,000 in property damage has occurred under the Highway Traffic Act. If you are unable to make the report, but there was an occupant in your vehicle, they are expected to inform the police on your behalf. When the police arrive, individuals must cooperate fully and provide them with details regarding the accident. The police will document the scene and circumstances surrounding the accident, and this evidence is often used in subsequent personal injury claims.

If the police do not attend the scene of the accident, it is still important to exchange insurance information and contact details with the other party or parties involved and report the accident to a Collision Reporting Centre in Ontario within 24 hours. A collision report form can be completed, and photographs of your vehicle will be obtained.

Notify Your Insurer

You are required to file a report of the accident with your motor vehicle insurer within seven days of the accident, regardless of whether you were at fault. Once you file a claim, you will be connected with a claims adjuster to determine how much of your claim will be covered and how to claim benefits (if required). Your insurance company will also make a determination regarding fault, which can impact your personal injury claim (and potentially impact your insurance record if you are found at-fault).

Seek Treatment for Your Injuries

To reiterate, even if you do not believe you initially sustained any injuries in the motor vehicle accident, it is often a best practice to get checked out by a healthcare professional to rule out any potential health impacts. If you sustained injuries in the collision, it is crucial to seek medical treatment immediately and comply with your medical professional’s recommendations, including when and whether you should return to work and which activities you can participate in. Common injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents include:

It is also worth tracking your symptoms in a journal. If you do bring a personal injury claim at a later date, this information can help you keep track of how your injuries were impacting you at particular points in time.

Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer for Guidance

Consulting an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident is always a good idea, regardless of the extent of your injuries. They will be in the best position to review the circumstances of the accident, advise you on your rights and possible courses of action, and can help you commence your claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer will also be able to ensure that your claim is filed within the applicable limitation period and can help you navigate any issues with your insurer, such as denial of accident benefits.

Track Your Expenses

Keep track of any out-of-pocket expenses you incurred as a result of the accident, such as medical treatments, prescriptions or medications, and travel (if you lost the use of your car due to the motor vehicle accident).

Take Care of Yourself and Stay Informed

Motor vehicle accidents are stressful—and, in some cases, life-changing experiences. In addition to any ongoing medical treatment, be sure to surround yourself with a strong support network. It is also important to maintain ongoing communication with relevant parties, such as your doctor, medical treatment team, and personal injury lawyer, to stay updated on your health and personal injury claim status. This will ensure that any benefit forms, applications, or other documents are properly completed in a timely manner.

Contact Tierney Stauffer LLP for Representation in Motor Vehicle Accident Claims

Tierney Stauffer LLP’s personal injury lawyers have over 35 years of experience representing victims of car, pedestrian and truck accidents. We will assess the circumstances of your case and will manage your claim so that you can focus on your health and recovery. If you or a loved one have sustained serious injuries in a motor vehicle accident, call us at 1-888-799-8057 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team.

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