If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident it is very important that you take certain steps in order to protect your legal interests and maximize your odds of receiving a fair settlement. There are certain steps you can take that may later assist your lawyer in proceeding with your case. The most important thing for you to do is to make sure you are documenting everything throughout your experience. Most people now carry a smart phone with them at all times, which should make this process quick and easy.
If you’re able to, take pictures of the scene of the accident, as well as pictures of your car and any other vehicles involved. Make sure to back up your pictures onto a cloud so that they don’t accidentally get lost or deleted. If you have a dash cam, make sure to save and backup the footage of the accident. It is also a good idea to get some pictures of your surroundings to document visibility, weather, road conditions, etc. These pictures and details can be used as evidence in your claim.
Make sure to obtain the other party’s contact and insurance information, as well as the contact information of any independent witnesses. If the other party doesn’t have insurance, make sure you get a picture of their ID, as well as their license plate and vehicle. If you don’t have anything to write with, just take a picture of any documents with your phone. You can enter witness contact information as a “contact” in your phone. If you are at the scene waiting for the police to arrive, encourage any witnesses to stay and wait so they can provide a statement while all the details are still fresh in their minds.
If the accident is minor and you choose not to call the police to the scene, go down to a police station right away to make a report. In either scenario, the police will fill out an Alberta Collision Report Form. If you are able, either get a copy to take home or take a picture of it with your phone. Make sure to note the case number as well.
If you are involved in a hit and run, try to get a picture of the car and/or the driver. A picture of the license plate would be best. If you are unable to get a picture, try to memorize as many details as possible and record them immediately. If you don’t have anything to write with, you can use the “notes” app on your smart phone. If you have one, dash cam footage is very helpful. Make sure to report the incident to the police as soon as possible. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a serious crime.
If you have visible injuries, make sure to document these by taking pictures. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible by either attending at an emergency room or at a walk-in clinic. If you do end up going to a walk-in clinic, it is a good idea to follow up with your family doctor a couple of days later. If a doctor recommends that you seek treatment, such as physiotherapy, it is important that you do so as soon as possible in order to mitigate your injuries.
Eventually, you will be contacted by an adjuster from your own insurance company. They will likely ask you questions regarding your injuries and they may ask you to sign an authorization form to allow them to obtain your medical records directly from your doctors. Do not sign any authorization. An adjuster from the other insurance company may reach out to you as well. They may even make you a settlement offer.
Do not accept any offers before you’ve spoken to a lawyer. Do not discuss your injuries with either your own insurance company or the other party’s insurance company. Do not sign anything until you have sought advice from a lawyer. Save any emails from the adjusters and note their names and contact information. You will have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. Even if you think your injuries are minor, it is best to get some legal advice, as injuries that seem minor can sometimes get worse over time.
- Document and take pictures of the accident;
- Obtain contact and insurance information from any other party involved;
- Obtain contact information from any witnesses;
- Report the incident to the police;
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible;
- Document your injuries from day one onward;
- Don’t give any detailed information to any insurance adjuster/company before speaking with a lawyer;
- Don’t accept a settlement offer before consulting with a lawyer; and
- Even if you don’t believe your injuries are severe enough to proceed with a claim, consult a doctor and a lawyer to ensure yo’ve done all you can to protect your interests.