Even the best and safest drivers can get into a serious auto accident. When and if the worst should happen, it’s common to feel scared and lost, confused about what to do next.

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate both the practical and legal aspects of being involved in a car accident. If you have more questions about legal matters surrounding your car accident call Helping Hand at 1-888-288-HURT.

1. Call the necessary authorities

The first step after getting into a car accident is to evaluate the situation, make sure no one is hurt and if needed call 911 to alert the authorities. In Ontario, you are required to report any accident that exceeds $2,000 in collective damages between all involved vehicles. You are also required to report an accident if someone is injured, if a government vehicle is involved, if you or the other driver doesn’t have insurance, if a pedestrian is involved, if damage is caused to private or municipal property or a criminal act has occurred such as one of the drivers is impaired. Calling the police, ambulance or the fire department to ensure the safety of you and others involved is an absolute must. If none of these things apply and the collective damage is under $2,000 or there is no damage, you don’t need to contact the police.

2. Keep calm and stay at the scene

There is no question about it, getting into an accident whether you are at fault or not can be extremely stressful. So, take a deep breath and try and stay calm. Keeping your emotions in check in an extreme situation like this is hard, but it will help you to make better, clearer decisions. It’s also very important that you stay at the scene of the accident. Failure to stay at the scene could get you into some legal trouble including potentially being charged with leaving the scene.

3. Exchange information and take photos

Now that you’ve made sure that you and everyone else involved is okay and you’ve called the proper authorities, take a moment to exchange information with the other drivers involved. Once you’ve done this, taking photos or video of the damage or any injuries can help with your case by keeping an accurate record of what happened once you’ve left the scene of the accident.

4. Check-in with a physician

If you have just been in an accident, check-in with your family doctor or physician afterwards. One of the most common injuries caused by car accidents is whiplash. Although whiplash may not necessarily require you to call an ambulance at the scene of the accident, it’s a good idea to go in for a check-up to make sure that you and others involved are okay.

5. Report the accident to your insurance

Even if you are not at fault for the accident, it’s still important to report it to your insurance agency. Claims must be reported within seven days to ensure that they honour your claim, however time is of the essence so do this as soon as you can.

6. Contact a personal injury lawyer

Laws surrounding car accidents and navigating through the process with multiple insurance agencies involved can be tough and confusing. A personal injury lawyer is here to help guide you through all the steps and help you fight for a fair settlement. Ontario has a no-fault auto insurance system so there may be benefits available to you, but you have to ask for them. Your personal injury lawyer can also help guide you through this process. It’s also a good idea to avoid signing anything from the insurance agency before you’ve met with a lawyer. If you have more questions about how to manage your car accident in Ontario, call Helping Hand at 1-888-288-HURT.