It’s amazing to me how many people don’t know what to do after they’ve been involved in a car accident in Ontario.
Before you call a personal injury lawyer and we get into all the legal mumbo jumbo; there are a few basic and common sense steps which you will need to take to lay the foundation of a case.
- Report the accident to the Police.
- Get the medical attention you need.
- Steps #1 and #2 are so easy and can be taken care of by way of one single call to 911. The 911 operator can dispatch police, ambulance and the fire department if necessary.
- If the police won’t attend at the accident scene, then attend your local collision reporting centre
- If the ambulance doesn’t attend at the scene because you have refused it; then seek medical attention at your local emergency department, walk in clinic or family doctor.
- Get the name, contact information and insurance information of the other driver. Don’t let the other drive leave the scene without getting that information.
There is a very strong chance that your personal injury case will fail if you don’t report the accident to the police or don’t get medical attention for your injuries.
A Court will NOT accept your evidence that you were in pain if you don’t seek out medical attention. Your pain needs to be documented. Seeing a doctor and getting medical attention is the way to best document your pain for your personal injury case. The Court will draw a NEGATIVE inference by your failure to seek out prompt and regular medical attention. The Court will draw the conclusion that you are NOT injured; or your injuries are NOT serious because you have not sought out medical attention for your injuries. They will draw the inference that your injuries are either NOT serious or simply a fabrication so that you can claim compensation.
Now that the basics are out of the way, let’s examine what else you will need to do after a serious car accident.
You will need to report the car accident to your own insurance company right away. This is a requirement of your insurance policy and under the Insurance Act. Failure to report the car accident in a timely manner may result in your claim being denied for late reporting; and you don’t want that. Most, if not all car insurers have 24 hour claim centres to report your case.
Even if you were a pedestrian or a cyclist at the the time of the car accident, you will need to report the car accident to your own car insurance company (if you had car insurance at the time of the car accident). I know it seems odd needing to report a car accident to your own insurance company even though you may have not been driving your own insured car at the time of the car accident; but this is simply how Ontario’s No Fault system of car insurance works. So make the call and let the insurers sort it out.
If you did not have car insurance at the time of the accident and you were hit as a pedestrian or cyclist, you will need to report the car accident to the other driver’s car insurance company. This is why it’s important to exchange insurance information at the scene of the car accident. This information will be contained on the Police Report or Occurrence Report. But sometimes you won’t get a copy of these reports at the accident scene and may take a few weeks or months to get. The police may be uncooperative in releasing the other driver’s insurance information. You don’t want your claim to be delayed for these reasons.
Call your insurance company and make an “ACCIDENT BENEFIT CLAIM“. The accident benefit claim is the first real legal step in a personal injury case involving a motor vehicle accident. It is not difficult to complete the OCF-1 Application for Accident Benefits. But if you have questions about the form, you can certainly reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
After the OCF-1 Application for Accident Benefits is completed, the insurance company will also ask that you complete a lot of different forms. These forms include, but aren’t limited to the OCF-2 Employer’s Confirmation of Income Form; OCF-3 Disability Certificate; OCF-10 Election for Income Replacement Benefits or Non-Earner Benefits Forms. An OCF-18 Treatment Plan will also likely be included in your accident benefits package along with an OCF-5 Permission to Disclose Information Form.
No doubt all of these different OCF Claim forms can be intimidating; particularly if English is not your first language. Chances are you’ve never heard of these forms or seen them before your car accident. You don’t want to complete them the wrong way which may jeopardize your case into the future. This is where a personal injury lawyer can help you.
Your personal injury lawyer will have all of the OCF claim forms for you; and will help you complete the forms and submit them to the insurance company. Your personal injury lawyer will also correspond with the accident benefit insurer to make sure that your claim moves along as smoothly as possible.
But keep in mind the basics. A personal injury lawyer won’t be retained until after the accident happens. That means that your personal injury lawyer won’t be able to report your car accident to the police because they haven’t been retained; nor can they call an ambulance for you at the scene of the accident. Your personal injury lawyer won’t be there with you at the scene of the car accident to exchange insurance information with the other driver. Your personal injury lawyer won’t be there with you at the accident scene to take pictures of the damage to the vehicles either. It is your responsibility to do so at the scene of the accident. Failing to complete these basic steps can break a personal injury case before it even has a chance to get off the ground. This is why it’s so important to understand what to do immediately following a car accident before you’ve had a chance to retain a personal injury lawyer.