There are hundreds of accidents on Alberta’s roads every day. Many of these accidents result in some type of injury to one or both drivers. If you are involved in a car accident, or an accident involving another motor vehicle including a bus, motorcycle, or taxi, you may wonder what your legal options are, and how you may be able to protect yourself, especially if you are seriously injured.
Here are some steps you should take to protect yourself following a motor vehicle accident:
1) Report the motor vehicle accident to the police
Under Alberta law, collisions must be reported to the police where there are any injuries, where damage to either vehicle exceeds $2,000, or if you were the victim of a hit and run.
However, even if an accident does not seem serious, if you do not seem injured, or if the damage to your car is minimal and below the $2,000 threshold, you should always contact the local police where the accident took place and report it right away. Obtaining a police report immediately after the collision, and having statements from anyone involved and witnesses will help to establish the facts about what occurred. This can be helpful in an eventual legal claim.
2) Report the car accident to your insurance company
Insurance policies require all collisions to be reported, regardless of the amount of damage to your vehicle and regardless of whether you were injured. Many drivers are under the mistaken impression that if they pay for any damages out of pocket, they do not need to involve their insurer, and their insurance rates will not be affected. This is incorrect. All accidents should be reported to your car insurance company. Even if you do not report the accident, but the driver of the other vehicle does, the other driver’s insurance company will contact yours in any event, and depending on the circumstances of the accident your rates may increase to reflect that you were in an accident. As such, it is always best to keep your insurer apprised of any collision you are involved in. This will help you in obtaining maximum coverage and compensation for any injuries you may have suffered.
3) Keep your own records of the motor vehicle accident
You will obtain a police report of the accident when you notify the police, however, do not rely solely on the police report for details about the collision. In addition to obtaining the name and contact information of the other driver, you should also, to the best of your ability, obtain the name and contact information of anyone who may have witnessed the car accident, including any passengers in the other vehicle, pedestrians, and other by-standers.
Further to getting contact information of any witnesses, take photos of the accident scene including close-up images of any damage to either vehicle, the location of the vehicles in relation to one another, road signs and traffic signals, and any other relevant details. If there is bad weather, take photos of the surface conditions of the road, and consider taking a screenshot of or otherwise note the weather forecast for the location and date where the accident took place.
Consider taking notes, even in point-form, of what happened while it is still fresh in your mind. Consult with anyone else in your vehicle for their recollection of events and take notes of their version of events as well.
4) Visit your doctor
Even if you do not think you are hurt, it is a good idea to visit your family doctor, or even a walk-in clinic as soon as possible after the accident to document your injuries. This is important even if your injuries are not immediately apparent or if you think you have not been seriously hurt. There is a chance that serious injuries may not exhibit themselves right away, or that injuries you do perceive immediately will worsen. A doctor will record details of your post-accident injuries and will also note any treatment you received as a result, or any medication that was provided or prescribed to you. If your injuries become worse as time goes on, you should visit the doctor again as soon as you perceive a change.
It is also a good idea to keep your own independent notes or diarize how you feel every day in order to have another record of how your injuries develop and/or how quick your recovery may be.
5) Consult a personal injury lawyer
While you may not immediately think about filing a legal claim following an accident, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. You may qualify for “no fault” benefits through your car insurance, but such benefits are often not sufficient to cover your full expenses and losses. A lawyer will review your situation, and can help guide you through your options and help you obtain the compensation you need to help you recover from any injuries, including compensation for any time you may have to miss from work. A lawyer will also work to make sure that your insurance company does not attempt to limit or even deny compensation that may be available to you.
At HMC Lawyers we regularly assist clients who have suffered serious injuries in a motorized vehicle accident. Our legal team many years of personal injury and significant courtroom experience, and we have assisted hundreds of clients obtain the compensation they deserve. To speak to one of our lawyers, call 1-800-480-3534 or contact us online. We represent clients injured in car accidents in Calgary and throughout Alberta.