By Rachel Levy Sarfin
Photo Credit: Robbie Howell
According to a recent census, there were over 120,000 automobile accidents each year in Canada. Chances are, you will somehow be involved in a car accident at some point during your life. Here is a list of steps to protect you both physically and legally in the event that this does happen to you!
1) Assess your situation
Safety should be your number one priority when you are in a collision. Assess if there are any immediate dangers to yourself and your passengers, such as incoming traffic or leaking fuel. Evacuate the vehicle if you feel that you are unsafe. Check to see if the other people involved in the accident are okay, and if anyone has any serious injuries.
2) Ensure Your Vehicle is Not in the Line of Oncoming Traffic
Attempt to move your vehicle to safe place, such as the side of the road. In the event that you cannot move your vehicle, turn on your hazard lights. Cones, warning lights or flares are good safety items to have on hand; carefully place them near the car to warn other drivers that there has been an accident. Your goal is to ensure scene safety by alerting approaching drivers that there is a collision ahead.
3) Call Emergency Services
Call 911 and inform the operator that there has been a car accident. Give them the location of the accident and inform them if emergency medical services are needed. Even if the car accident is rather minor and there are no injuries, it is still strongly advised to call the police. The police report will serve as a record to be used as evidence when filing your claim.
4) Document the Damage
Write down the damage done to your vehicle, and obtain the contact information of any witnesses to the accident. This is an important step, because an objective third party’s statement is extremely valuable in the event of a disputed claim. The more information you can provide for your insurance company, the easier the adjuster will be able to handle your claim.
This is also a good time to take pictures of the scene. This will help document the damages and provide evidence when submitting your claim to the insurance company. If it is possible to safely do so, take the photographs before moving your vehicles.
5) Document the Drivers’ Information
Exchange contact information and insurance details with the other driver. Even if there is minimal damage to both vehicles, this step is still necessary. Sometimes, people avoid exchanging insurance information because the party at fault agrees to pay for the damage. However, that individual might not pay in a timely fashion, or at all. That is why getting the other party’s insurance information is vital.
Limit your conversation with the other driver to exchanging insurance information and keep the conversation neutral. Do not admit fault to the accident. You should only discuss the details of the accident with your insurance company and the police.
By following these five steps, you should be able to ensure that your post car accident experience is safe and that your claims process will go as smoothly as possible. Remember that you can call your insurance company for advice anytime. You can always call your agent to ask for guidance about what to do during an accident, even if you do not wish to file a claim and it will not affect your rates.
About the author: Rachel Levy Sarfin is a contributing author to belairdirect, one of Canada’s largest auto and home insurance companies. Rachel enjoys writing about finance, personal safety and lifestyle topics.