What to do after a car accident: a guide to the claims process

You’ve been in a car accident. Now what? Since no one is at their best after a car accident and you will likely be shaken up, here’s a handy, foolproof guide covering what to do and what to expect when filing an auto accident claim and a lawsuit.

1. Gather evidence from the scene

Gather as much evidence associated with your car accident as soon as possible. This way, your  Information like witness contact information, pictures of the accident and weather details are some of the steps you should immediately take, following a car accident. Feel free to survey the area to know if any surveillance cameras recorded the scene.

2. Exchange information with other driver(s) involved.

Always remember not to pay, or promise to pay, for damages at the scene of the collision. Do not agree to forget about the collision, accept money or discuss any settlement.

To facilitate the claim process, make sure you obtain the following information (you can take photos or write down information):

  • Driver’s license numbers
  • Drivers’ names and contact information
  • Insurance policy numbers and name of car insurance companies
  • License plate numbers

If someone refuses to provide their information, advise them that they are required by law to provide information regardless of fault. 

3. Let the police take information as well

If you were involved in an accident, you should report it to the police as soon as possible. In Alberta, if the damage exceeds $2,000 and the vehicle is driveable, you have 24 hours to file a report at your local police station. 

Police tend the clean up a scene following an accident, so make sure you document evidence on your end before calling the authorities. File a police report, even if there is only minor damage, and document what happened in the most accurate way.

4. Ensure safety 

  • If your vehicle is drivable, there are no serious injuries and the area is safe, move your vehicle to the side of the road, out of traffic. Failure to protect your vehicle from further damage after the incident, as far as reasonably possible, may limit the compensation provided by your insurance company.
  • In cases where there is a serious injury or a suspected impaired driver, do not move anyone injured in the collision — you may aggravate their injuries while tampering with evidence. Call 911, turn on your hazard lights and if possible, leave out safety cones or warning triangles. It is important to first seek medical attention from a medical professional. Make sure anyone receives the care they need.

5. Call your personal injury lawyer

Talk to us before talking to your insurance. Our experienced car accident lawyers can help you build a case, contact the other side’s insurance company, perform all the necessary research and evidence gathering and can even help by paying medical disbursements during your case. 

6. Inform your insurance company

If the collision involved loss or damage to persons or property, you may have only 7 days to notify your insurer. If you are claiming from your own insurance company, ask the company for a proof of loss claim form. Most policies require that a proof of loss is completed by the insured within 90 days. If you don’t make your claim within a set time period, your insurer may not be legally bound to cover it.

Once you have reported your claim, it will be assigned to a claims adjuster, who will confirm details of what happened. You have a contractual duty to cooperate with your insurance company and give them a recorded statement and evidence so that it can determine liability or fault. If you decided not to cooperate, then it could deny coverage for the claim. Your adjuster may ask for information like:

  • Date and location of the accident
  • Information about vehicles, passengers and witnesses involved
  • Police information, if applicable
  • Injury information for any of the parties involved
  • Details about the damage on the vehicle(s) involved

If the other driver caused the collision, you may claim directly against the other driver through his or her insurance company. However, do not talk to the other side’s insurer. You need a skilled lawyer to do it for you. In many cases, insurance companies will try to offer you a settlement right away. Usually, early settlements dismiss most of the intricate details of a victim’s injury. The early settlement offered by the insurance company will often not take your full medical expenses and adjusted living expenses into account, leaving you to pay for them out of pocket. 

Our award-winning personal injury lawyers have over 20 years experience and will deal with the insurance company from day one, letting them know that you mean to seek proper compensation for your injuries as well as other compensations you may be entitled to. 

Norm Assiff

Norm Assiff

Norm was awarded the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association (ACTLA) President's Award for 2012--awarded to a member of the Alberta bar who has distinguished himself or herself by his or her contribution to the profession or the community, the advancement of the law or their service to ACTLA. He has appeared at all levels of court in Alberta (Provincial Court, Queen's Bench and the Alberta Court of Appeal) as well as the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Federal Court of Appeal.

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The information presented on this post is not legal advice. We encourage you to perform further research on the topics described here, and if you have any questions or would like to speak to one of our personal injury lawyers, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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