Avoiding car accidents … and what to do when you have one. for CANADA

They happen in an eye-blink, and usually what comes next is a blur. We’re not talking about your vision – it’s a car accident.

If you’ve never been in a car accident, and think you never will, here are some sobering numbers from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). In its last full year of statistics, ICBC reported 330,000 car accidents in the province – 220,000 of them occurring in the Lower Mainland.

No matter how careful and skillful a driver you may be – your chance of being in an accident is roughly one in 10 every time you’re on the road. And the results of an accident range from light car-body damage to injury to a tragic death (273 throughout BC in 2016).

The rules of safe driving are, for the most part, common sense, or at least clearly indicated by road signs. We also rely on our years of driving experience to follow the rules and keep safe.

Unfortunately, all too often, our experience behind the wheel can make us lax about following laws and regulations. Here are the basics, which can never be revisited enough.

1. Be alert; never drive impaired or fatigued.

2. Always wear your seat belt – and make sure everyone in your car is, too.

3. Maintain a speed-safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you.

4. Look ahead – if you see a line of brake lights coming on, slow down too.

5. Take particular care at intersections: left-hand turns crossing your path, and   pedestrians.

6. Be wary of our BC rain: more accidents occur in rainy conditions than snow.
7. Pay attention to road signs: they’re there for a reason.

But no matter how carefully you drive, accidents can be completely unpredictable, and often not your fault. What do you do then?

Mostly, common sense things – as hard as it may be to think that way after such a shock to your system.

If anyone’s injured, call 911, and get paramedics at the scene fast. Call for the police if the other driver seems impaired or was driving aggressively. Exchange information with the other driver. Get as much information as you can but, at the very least, write down their licence plate number.

Immediately seek legal representation with a law firm that specializes in ICBC law. At the time of the accident, there are too many things to deal with on your own; whether it’s assessing the damage to your vehicle, seeking treatment for your injuries or making sure witnesses are contacted to support your side of the story.

You don’t have to call ICBC immediately. In fact, you or your lawyer can contact them within a “reasonable” time. He or she will look out for your interests and make sure that ICBC doesn’t take advantage of you. Your representation should start as soon as possible.

Helpforme has one of the largest groups of personal injury lawyers under one roof in BC. They’re your personal advocates to help you through the complexities of an ICBC claim, and ensure you’re getting the settlement or court award that you deserve. Helpforme has contingency-based fees, so you don’t pay until your claim is resolved. Find out how Helpforme can help you.

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