If you’ve never been in a car accident, you might think you never will. After all, you’re a good driver! Unfortunately, as any ICBC lawyer will tell you, accidents happen to good drivers all the time. No matter how safe a driver you are, sometimes other drivers, the weather and the condition of the road can cause an accident to happen.

If and when you crash, you’re likely to be shaken up – and if it’s your first, you may not know what to do next. Take some time to read over these tips so that you’re prepared if the time comes.

#1 Stop!

Even if it wasn’t your fault, even if the damage only seems very minor, even if you’re on your way to something important: you must stop the car. You may be breaking the law if you are involved in an accident and don’t stop, and the last thing you want is to be prosecuted.

#2 Stay calm

A car accident can be a shock and it’s only natural for emotions to run high, but if you get angry or upset you can make an already bad situation even worse. Take a moment to collect yourself and take a few deep breaths before you proceed. Try to remain calm even if someone else involved in the accident is behaving in an agitated way.

#3 Take basic safety precautions

Check yourself for injuries. Are you in any pain? Check all your limbs: can you move them? Move the car to somewhere safe and get out if it is safe to do so. Check that any passengers in your car are ok, and do the same for everyone in the other vehicle or vehicles.

#4 Call the police

You are required by law to notify the police within either 24 hours or 48 hours of the accident (depending on where you are) if the damage exceeds $1000, or $600 if a motorbike is involved. Since it might be difficult to assess the extent and cost of the damage right away, to stay on the safe side of the law it’s usually best to notify the police in any case.

#5 Exchange and record information

Even if it’s only a minor collision and no-one is hurt, you should still swap contact details and insurance information with all parties – don’t forget to get the contact details of any witnesses. You should also record details about the damage, by taking pictures with your cellphone if possible and if it’s safe to do so.

#6 Do not get into a discussion about blame

Nothing good will come of blaming the other driver at this stage – but it’s also important that you do not accept liability yourself or offer to pay for any damage at the scene. Don’t sign anything or get into any arguments. This can all be resolve later.

#7 Call a lawyer before you call ICBC

You must notify ICBC: but it’s also important to make sure you first speak to a specialist ICBC lawyer.  You could lose out if you hand over information to ICBC, or sign a statement, before you have a full understanding of your legal rights.