Most of us get behind the wheel each day with little thought to what we would do if we were in a collision. No one wants to go around thinking about danger and destruction, but with of 380,000 automobile accidents in Canada each year, it’s prudent to be prepared. Knowing how to be safe and responsible after a collision is just as important as knowing the rules of the road.
If you are in a collision, your first responsibility is to stop and do what you can to ensure the safety of all involved, as well as other vehicles that might come upon the scene. Call an ambulance if anyone is seriously injured, and do not stand in front of, behind, or between the two vehicles in the roadway. When there is a collision our bodies respond with adrenaline to help them through the situation, so although you may feel fine, it is still extremely important to protect your own safety and those of others. Turn on your hazard lights and use cones or flares to alert other drives.
If anyone is injured or any driver doesn’t have a license, you must report it to the police. You must also call if the total damage to all vehicles appears to be more than $2000, if any of the vehicles aren’t drivable, or if there is any damage to public property. You must also contact the police if you think any substance, legal or illegal, might have been a factor in the accident.
While waiting for police to arrive, take some time in your car (if it is still safe) and try to calm yourself. It is very important that you do not admit liability or say sorry. That is for the insurance company to decide. Likewise, you should never promise to pay for damage or accept payment at the scene of a collision. Let your insurance company work that out. And never agree to forget about an accident without notifying your insurance company. Any of these actions could have a serious impact on your driving privileges or limit any insurance compensation.
Inspect and Collect
While it’s still fresh in your mind, write down or record all of the details of the accident including the speed and direction all vehicles were traveling. Take photos of vehicles, the damage, and the scene of the accident. Collect the contact information of the other drivers and registered owners of all the vehicles involved. Don’t forget to get the names and phone numbers of the passengers and any witnesses. Be sure to get insurance information from the other drivers, including drivers license and plate numbers, and their insurance company’s and broker’s contact information.
Call Your Insurance Company
On the day of the accident, call your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident. Be sure to provide all of the information you collected at the scene, including any information about damages or injuries. Provide them with the names of any police officers with whom you spoke.
Remember, even after the accident, it’s important that you keep accurate and organized records of any activities related to the collision, including dates and times of any phone calls. Keep copies of any medical information you receive if you were injured, and take good notes on your condition. If anything arises that you forget to mention, or just remember after the adrenaline wears off, contact your insurance company right away. The more information you can provide, the sooner the situation can be resolved and you can move on.