What To Do After A Car Accident
With the temperatures slowly rising and the snow gradually starting to melt, we begin to get out on the road more. Even the most careful drivers may at some point find themselves in an accident, and knowing what to do after a car accident is crucial for saving time, effort, and money. With a little advice, you can get through a tough day with ease.
You’re probably thinking, if the roads are getting nicer, why worry about accidents now? Research has shown that more accidents occur when the weather is nice. During or after a heavy snowfall, people are more likely to avoid driving. Driving under adverse conditions, people tend to lower their speed and drive more cautiously. In nice weather, people can get distracted easier and may speed more. This can lead to more accidents. Accidents can happen anywhere at any time, so it’s good to be prepared.
So What Should I Do After A Car Accident?
Accident is a broad term, and could range from scraping some paint to completely totalling your vehicle. This is advice for an accident that you can walk away from. If you’re reading this while your car is upside down and on fire, please call the police and stop reading blogs online.
Before anything else, remember to stay calm and try to relax. While an accident is stressful, making mistakes after an accident can lead to much more severe damage than the initial accident. Do not exit your vehicle until you are sure it is safe to do so. Do not try and move an injured person, as this may lead to more injuries. Stay calm, collect yourself, and know that if you’re only calming yourself down and assessing the situation, things could have been a lot worse.
The first thing to do after a car accident is to stop. Driving away or fleeing the scene is a criminal offence in Ontario, and you will very easily be caught. While your first reaction may be to get vehicles off the road, it is best to leave them where they are if the damage is severe. For a dented bumper or a paint scuff, it is safe to move the cars off the road. For more severe accidents, leave the vehicles where they come to a stop.
Now that you’re stopped you need to assess the situation. Is anyone injured? Does anyone appear to be breaking any laws like driving while intoxicated or street racing? Is the damage at the scene more than $1000? If so, call 911 and follow the directions given to you. If no one is injured, breaking any laws, and the damage is minimum, contact the Ottawa Police collision line at 613-230-6211.
For major accidents, wait for the emergency services to arrive. For minor accidents, taking pictures of as much as you can can help prevent any insurance issues. Try to photograph (using either a camera phone or a digital camera if you have one) your vehicle and the positions it’s in, other vehicles, the road conditions and the area you’re in. You may also want to photograph any injuries you may have. For minor accidents, it may now be safe to move your vehicles from the road.
You should now try and collect and exchange as much information as possible. Names, license plates, drivers licences, telephone numbers, insurance policy numbers, and anything else that connects people to vehicles is important information to capture. Remember to stay calm at this point, as tensions will most likely be running high. You will also want to try and get some contact information from any witnesses as an added safety measure.
Once you’re sure that everyone is safe, all hazards have been cleared, and emergency services have been administered as needed, you should now contact your insurance provider and file a claim. The faster you get a claim filed, the faster you can get back on the road. For insurance purposes, it can be best to not say a whole lot after an accident. Something as simple as saying sorry can be used as an admission of guilt, and depending on the situation can lead to charges. Do not assume any liability, sign any waivers, or promise any reparations at the scene. All of this can be handled afterwards.
Unfortunately, there are some who would capitalize on this situation. Unauthorized tow truck drivers may offer a tow and then take the vehicle to shops of their choice, or demand payments upfront. Emergency services can help point you in the direction of authorized tow services. You also have the option of having your vehicle towed to a police compound until you’ve discussed your options with your insurance company.
While there is an easy set of instructions to follow for changing a tire, knowing what to do after a car accident will depend entirely on your situation. It’s important to remember that vehicles can be replaced, but people cannot. Ensuring the safety of everyone involved is the most important factor, and your vehicle should come second. Avoiding distracted driving, controlling your speed, and being mindful of the road is the best way to avoid ever needing this advice.
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