By: Kimball Law
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12 Steps to Take After a Car Accident in Nova Scotia
12 Steps to Take After a Car Accident in Nova Scotia
Car accidents happen everyday, but we rarely expect them to happen to us. In the winter months when road conditions are less than optimal, the risk of accidents increases substantially. In summer weather, very often, speed and heavy traffic conditions contribute to the risk of accidents. When you’re in an accident, it’s important to stay as calm as possible and follow several key steps to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
After an accident occurs, you need to:
- Remain at the scene of the accident
- Take precautions to ensure your safety and that of others on the highway
- Call 911 if anyone has been injured
- Exchange required information with other drivers involved as well as witnesses at the scene of the accident
- Be careful what you say to others at the scene
- File a police report
- Report the accident to your insurance company
- Do not give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company
- Make a record of the events
- Seek medical attention (even if you don’t think you’re hurt)
- Don’t share the details of your accident
- See a lawyer
1. Remain at the scene
Remain at the scene of the accident. This is the law and it is also just plain common-sense. How long you need to remain depends on the circumstances of the accident. If it is a fender-bender and there are no injuries and there is no need for a 911 call, it may be as simple as exchanging any necessary information with the other driver and proceeding on your way. In other cases, where there has been significant damage, disputes as to liability, injuries to individuals or perhaps the accident is related to criminal wrong-doing, it is important to stay at the scene until the proper authorities have been contacted and have attended the scene.
2. Take precautions
Some accidents are so serious that the vehicles will remain where they are until emergency responders can secure the scene and take steps to assist injured parties from their vehicles. In the case of fatal injuries and very serious accidents the police will secure the scene for forensic purposes. In those circumstances the vehicles that have been involved in the accident are usually left unmoved until evidence can be secured.
If you believe a crime has been committed or the vehicles cannot be moved, call 911 for police assistance.
In the greater majority of cases, the damage to vehicles is much less significant and usually the vehicles are driveable. In such cases people will generally move their vehicles off the roadway or at least to the side of the road so as not to impede traffic. In other circumstances it will be important to do so because of the possibility of vehicles blocking traveling lanes causing further accidents. Following an accident, individuals who do not feel they’ve been injured and are able to extricate themselves from their vehicles should do so. You should ensure that such individuals are off the travel portion of the highway.
In some accident situations, particularly in inclement weather where visibility may not be very good, individuals who have left vehicles following an accident have been injured or killed by other drivers coming upon the scene who are unaware that an accident has happened only minutes before. If hazard lights can be turned on the vehicle that should be done to warn approaching motorists. In any case, stay off the travel portion of the highway.
Ideally, individuals who appear to be injured or who know they have suffered an injury should exercise extreme caution in leaving a vehicle before emergency help can arrive on the scene. Some individuals will have obvious injuries that require immediate treatment. Others may suffer from injuries that will not be immediately apparent until they attempt to leave the vehicle. This may be particularly true of spinal injuries where the individual needs to be immobilized for safe transport for medical attention. If this is the case, or if in doubt, the injured person should remain in the vehicle until medical assistance arrives.
3. Call 911 if anyone has been injured
If anyone has been injured, it is important to call 911 for medical assistance. Sometimes individuals will be trapped in a vehicle and will require the ‘jaws of life’ usually provided by the fire department in order to extricate them from the vehicle. The police might have to be involved if there have been infractions of the law or if a criminal offense has been committed. Sometimes police are needed in order to secure the scene and ensure the safety of the travelling public. If you provide the important information to the 911 operator, they will generally ensure the right people are contacted to attend the scene.
4. Exchange required information with other drivers
If you were involved in a car accident, it is paramount that you check for injuries and receive any necessary medical attention. If you are not severely injured and are able, then it is a good idea to gather as much information as possible. Some information you should obtain:
- The other driver’s personal information: name, address, phone number, insurer, insurance policy number, and license plate number.
- Witness’ name and phone number.
- Take pictures of the accident scene. Make sure your pictures show the positions of the cars, so that means you should take them before moving your vehicle.
If you are the driver of a vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident you have a duty to provide information to the driver of the other vehicle involved. This information includes:
Your name, address, the registration number of your vehicle and to show your driver’s license so that they may record your license number.
5. Be Careful What You Say
When an accident occurs, it’s important to be careful when talking to any other parties involved. Specifically, avoid apologizing for the accident. There’s nothing wrong with being courteous by asking if everyone is okay and offering some assistance, however, apologies can be interpreted as an admission of guilt.
Apologizing or admitting any fault to any party at the scene – regardless of whether you were at-fault or not – could be used against you by the insurance company throughout the claims process and could result in your claim being denied.
If another party is at fault, ask them what happened. This explanation can be useful later as evidence.
6. File a police report
In Nova Scotia, a police report is required by law if there is personal injury or more than $2000 worth of property damage to either vehicle. But even if the damages resulting from your accident don’t appear to meet this threshold, it is still wise to file a police report. A police report can be used as evidence that the accident actually happened.
7. Report the Accident to YOUR Insurance Company
Call your insurance company as soon as possible. Generally, you must notify your insurance company within 24 hours of the accident. Do not make declarations about things you are not completely sure of. This includes stating whether or not you are injured.
In many cases injuries including whiplash, internal bleeding, brain injuries and musculoskeletal pain and their symptoms can have a delayed onset. Until you have seen a doctor and enough time has passed to know for certain, do not tell your insurance company that you are not injured. You can simply state that you are uncertain and are awaiting the feedback and advice of medical professions.
You have to keep in mind that your process might lead you to talk to different insurance adjusters, we wrote this article to help you be prepared for that situation.
This leads us to our next point, which is a brief, but critical one.
8. Do Not Give a Statement to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
The rule of thumb is to report the accident to your own insurance company. The other driver should speak to their insurance company. You should only be collecting the other driver’s insurance information so that their insurer can pay for any damages you may claim at a later time.
However, you should not contact the adverse insurance company directly, but rather, have your lawyer deal with them.
9. Write Your Statement of the Events
If you have been injured, you should attend the nearest E.R. or hospital outpatient department.
Write down everything you remember from the accident. Don’t forget to include a good description of events, the time and date of your accident as well as any other relevant details. Motor vehicle accident claims usually take a while, so recording this information shortly after your accident is helpful for your legal case.
Provide this information to your lawyer and when necessary to your insurance company.
10. Seek medical attention
Even if you don’t think you are injured, the injuries after an accident can be delayed. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to make sure you didn’t suffer a concussion or internal injuries.
It can’t be overstated how important it is to see a doctor. Not all injuries are apparent immediately. Many symptoms of injuries, including whiplash, abdominal and internal injuries may not present themselves immediately. By going to your doctor, you will not only get a preliminary check done, but you could get up front advice about what to watch out for. Subsequent check-ups with your doctor are also good to show the progression of your injuries and to document any treatments you may need that should be covered by insurance.
11. Keep the Details to Yourself
After you have talked to the police and your insurance company, seen your doctor and taken care of yourself, it’s important to limit your discussions and any statements made to others about the accident. In particular, don’t share information about the accident to others over email, text or social media. Just like admitting fault for the accident, this information could be used against you by an insurance adjuster if it’s discovered.
12. Get a Lawyer
It’s likely that the other driver’s insurance company is going to contact you. When that happens, it’s important to know what to say and what to avoid saying. This is best handled by a lawyer who has experience in dealing with these conversations. Our lawyers at Kimball Law can be your guide to dealing with and receiving compensation from the insurance company.