The coronavirus disease risk compounds the stress of a collision. Public health measures affect the first steps to take at the scene of an accident in Newfoundland and Labrador. Compensation for your injury and legal-insurance requirements remain the same.
At the Accident Scene
In case the other automobile might leave, make a mental note of its licence plate number. Move your car to a safe location and activate your hazard lights. Call 911 if emergency responders are required, or you feel unsafe.
Document the event
The Highway Traffic Act, s. 169, requires the other driver to provide accident information on request. You must obtain this information even if you do not have immediate symptoms. The Court could dismiss your claim if you were able to identify the other vehicle but did not. Follow public health guidelines during your interaction with the other driver. Be respectful. Do not offer to pay for vehicle damage, admit fault or get in an argument.
Ask for the driver's licence, vehicle registration, and insurance. Minimize contact in exchanging documents. Photograph the documents. If you do not get a good image, write down the information. Do not accept an offer from the other driver to text or email it later. Confirm the name and address of both the driver and the owner.
Politely ask witnesses for their names and phone numbers. A witness is under no obligation to provide the information.
Take photographs: the plate number of the other vehicle; vehicle damage; skid marks; impact location; vehicle positions after the crash; debris field (vehicle parts, glass shards).
Use an app like GPS Coordinates or Maps to save the precise location if you are unsure. Write down the time of the accident.
After the Accident
The pandemic has not changed the requirement to make a police report within 24 hours. This report may be essential to your claim if the other vehicle is unidentified. You must make an accident report to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary if the accident occurred in the Northeast Avalon, Corner Brook, Labrador City, Wabush, or Churchill Falls. If your accident happened outside RNC jurisdiction, make the accident report to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
For now, the RNC accepts accident reports online: RNC online report form. Call the nearest RCMP detachment if the accident is outside RNC jurisdiction. The RCMP Provincial Headquarters number is 709-772-5400.
Notice to insurers
Contact your insurance broker or insurer immediately to advise of the collision, any known injury, and vehicle damage. Request the documents to claim Section B benefits (medical expense and partial wage loss indemnity), vehicle damage, and Section D coverage if the other vehicle's identity is unknown or uninsured. The timeframe for giving notice to your insurer if the other vehicle is uninsured or unidentified can be as short as 30 days: Standard Automobile Policy at p.15.
You have 120 days to give notice of your claim to the owner/operator of the other vehicle under s. 25.1, Automobile Insurance Act.
These deadlines have not changed. An attorney will ensure the required documents are served on insurers in time regardless of the pandemic.
If your injuries require immediate medical care, go to the ER. If you are not sure about going to ER, the Healthline at 811 or 1-888-709-2929 will provide advice. Set an appointment with your family doctor or at a walk-in clinic, even if it is a remote phone appointment. It is important to take reasonable steps to recover. A physician will assess and treat you and document the injury. Follow the doctor's treatment plan. Even some physiotherapy has continued over Zoom at high alert levels.
Accident data recorder
An accident triggers a recorder to record data over an interval of several seconds before and after a collision in each vehicle that is equipped with a recorder. The recorded data may include vehicle speed, braking, steering, and even turn signals. This information can be important in determining fault, and the forces exerted on the vehicle occupants' bodies. A subsequent accident involving the same vehicle may overwrite the data. It may not be possible to obtain the recorder if the vehicle is beyond repair and it is sold for salvage. Do not leave the disposition of the data to chance. In most cases, the cost of extracting and analyzing the data will outweigh the information's value. In some, the data will be invaluable.
Seek legal advice before responding to a request for information by the other insurer.