Last updated Feb. 15, 2018.
The steps you take after a car accident in Ontario are extremely important, particularly if you or the other party are injured or property has been damaged.
In Ontario, car accident victims have the right to Statutory Accident Benefits. These benefits include money to help defray the costs of medical care and other injury-related expenses that can drain a family’s financial resources quickly.
Accident Benefits are part of a “no-fault” compensation system and are available to you, regardless of who caused your accident. In addition to an accident benefits claim, if you are not at fault for the accident, you may also have a tort claim where you can sue the at fault driver for your pain and suffering, lost income, and any other out of pocket expenses.
Unfortunately, these claims can be compromised by your actions — or lack of action — after an accident in Ontario. There are things you can do, however, to protect a claim. Below are the five first steps to take after suffering injury in a car accident in Ontario.
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Step 1: Secure All Accident-Related Evidence
Stay in your car and keep your seatbelt fastened until it’s safe to get out. It is especially dangerous to get out of your car if you’re on a highway or high-speed road, and this must be done with extreme caution. Remove your car from traffic. If your car is unsafe to drive, make arrangements to have it towed.
If you are able to get out of your car (and you have been in a collision with another driver), exchange information. Some important information to exchange includes name, address, phone number, license plate number, car make and model, and insurance company and policy information.
Collect evidence at the scene of the accident so long as your injuries and safety will allow. Evidence includes:
- photos or video of the scene;
- names and contact information of witnesses;
- conduct of the other drivers; and
- details about the road conditions.
Obtain and preserve additional evidence in the days and weeks after your accident. Ask someone to help you with this task if your injuries make it difficult or impossible for you to do so.
Evidence that may be necessary in a personal injury claim includes:
- your damaged vehicle (ensure it is transported to a secure location and is not destroyed — even if it is deemed a total loss);
- receipts for all accident-related expenses;
- medical records; and
- names of health practitioners.
A personal injury lawyer can assume the task of collecting, organizing and analyzing your accident and medical evidence.
Step 2: Seek Medical Attention
Your health and safety are the primary concerns after an accident. Of course, if you’re seriously injured, this will be your first step. But seek prompt medical attention even if you think your injuries are “minor.” Certain latent injuries — such as whiplash and even minor brain trauma — may not be immediately apparent.
If the accident is serious, call 911 and wait for help to arrive. If you are able to, help anyone who has been injured. If the accident is not serious, you do not need to call 911, just call the police.
Your care should not cease once you leave the hospital or medical center. Continue to follow your physician’s recommended course of treatment. Keep all appointments and meet with specialists as instructed by your medical care provider. Tell your physicians about all of your symptoms to ensure an accurate diagnosis and classification of your injuries. Ensure that you participate in physiotherapy or seek out treatment from other health practitioners.
If you are considering making a personal injury case about your accident, make sure you go to your doctor or the hospital immediately following the accident and keep track of any aches, pains, or other discomforts. Chances are, you’ll forget about the details.
Step 3: Report the Accident
You have just seven days from the date of the accident in which to report the incident to your insurance provider. You have just 30 days from receipt of the Accident Benefits package in which to submit your completed application. With respect to filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, you generally have two years to file a lawsuit from the date of the accident.
If the total damages are over $1,000 or someone has been injured, remember that you must report the accident to the police. If you want to report a collision and the police were not involved at the time of the accident, you have 24 hours to report it at a Collision Reporting Centre.
Even if the accident is minor, it is never a good idea to settle the matter without reporting it to the police or involving your insurance company. However, if you feel that it is the right decision, make sure you have all of their information (especially license plate and car make and model in case the other information they give you is inaccurate).
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Step 4: Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Insurance companies are experts at processing accident claims. However, they are not charged with protecting your rights first and foremost. A personal injury lawyer, meanwhile, is dedicated to advocating exclusively for your best interests.
The sooner you consult a lawyer, the sooner he or she can assume responsibility for all aspects of your claim. This includes collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, and filing your benefits application.
Step 5: Learn Your Rights After a Car Accident in Ontario
It important that you try to remain calm. If you’re calm, you can think clearly and you will be able to better handle the situation.
Learn more about protecting your claim. Check out our blog and other resources on our website to learn more about motor vehicle accidents and your rights. Call 1-800-JUSTICE® if you’re ready to schedule a free case consultation and discuss your right to Accident Benefits and the potential of filing a lawsuit for your pain and suffering and more.