Sponsored by Ahlstrom Wright Oliver & Cooper LLP
A car accident can happen to anyone. When it does, few people know what to do! Often people get out of their vehicles, have a brief exchange, even yell at each other and drive away. Sometimes they don’t realize that valuable witnesses to the accident may be disappearing down the street, or that their emotional exchanges could be used against them in court.
There are a few things you should and shouldn’t do immediately after a car accident if you were injured due to the fault of someone else. To ensure you have all the information you need to file an injury claim, protect its value, get more compensation even after fees, and save yourself a lot of stress, take the following steps:
- If someone’s been injured, call the police and arrange transportation to the hospital.
- Even if no one’s been hurt, you should contact the RCMP to report the accident. It’s also helpful to have a police record of the accident if your injury doesn’t present itself until a day or more after.
- Don’t move your vehicle unless it’s blocking traffic and may cause another accident. You want the police to see the accident scene.
- Get the contact information of the other driver(s), any passengers, and witnesses of the accident. People often forget about passengers and witnesses, but the information they provide can make a big difference in the claim process.
- Write down the license plate numbers of the vehicle(s) involved. The more information you collect the easier it will be to file a successful claim.
- Ask the other driver(s) for their insurance information. Be sure to note the name of their insurer as well as their policy number.
- Make a note of any statements made by those involved, especially if someone implied or admitted fault. People often change their story as time passes and having a written record of words exchanged can be very useful.
- Take pictures of the accident scene from far away and up close.
- If you start experiencing pain or have other health problems after the accident make a medical appointment as soon as possible. Injuries can worsen a few hours or even days after the event. You don’t want the insurance company to accuse you of exaggerating about an injury because you didn’t bother to see a doctor.
It’s a lot to remember, especially when you’re in shock from all the commotion. You may want to print theses instructions and keep them in your glove box. Hopefully you won’t need them, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you were recently injured in a car accident but neglected to take the steps outlined above, the best thing you can do is see a doctor and contact a personal injury lawyer to learn your rights.
In the days and months following your accident, make sure to keep receipts for all expenses related to the accident that are not covered by NWT Health or your car insurer. You should also follow up with the RCMP to confirm who has been found to be at fault for the accident, and request a copy of the RCMP’s Collision Report. Start a pain journal that keeps track of any symptoms experienced and medical appointments attended. This record will be very helpful to your injury claim.
Not every car accident case needs an injury lawyer. If your case is minor, you can probably handle your own injury claim and negotiate a small settlement in compensation.
The tricky part, however, is knowing whether your case is minor or not. Often, you can’t tell at the start of a claim how difficult your case may get. I’ve been handling car accident injury claims in Northwest Territories for a long time, so if you’re unsure, feel free to contact me toll free at 1-844-462-9006 extension 2939 and I’ll give you a straight answer on a no obligation basis.
Contact a personal injury lawyer if you know right away that your injury is serious and affecting your day-to-day life. An injury lawyer will likely be able to get you more compensation than you’d be able to get for yourself even after fees, and they’ll remove a lot of stress and frustration from a rather complicated process.
I provide free initial consultations for people involved in car accidents in the NWT. At Ahlstrom Wright Oliver & Cooper LLP (AWOC), we understand unique northern issues and bring 30 years of experience with us to help people with increasingly complex legal needs.
We have a permanent office in Yellowknife where I frequently travel, and a primary office in Sherwood Park, Alberta. Call the toll free number 1-844-462-9006 extension 2908 if you’d like to talk about your accident.