What to do if you are in a car accident in B.C.

In a split second, your average commute could take a drastic turn if you are involved in a car accident. At Slater Vecchio we want you to be well equipped to handle this situation calmly and effectively. The time immediately following an accident can be highly emotional and stressful, but with these 10 tips you can make sure that you are prepared should the unthinkable happen.

1. Stop and breathe. Assess the situation.

At this moment you may be panicked and in shock. Take a second to look around and call 911 immediately if anyone is injured. Do not move any injured people, as you may make their injury worse.

2. Take photos of the license and license plate of all drivers involved.

An exchange of information is extremely important. A photo of the other party’s license and license plate will ensure no information is missed. If you do not have a camera or camera phone, write the information on a piece of paper clearly, along with the date, time and location.

3. Take photos of the accident scene before the vehicles are moved.

Having clear photos of the accident scene will greatly benefit you later on, especially if no witnesses or other parties were present. Try to take photos at various angles, capturing all major damage areas.

4. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses.

If anyone witnessed what happened, try to get their names and contact information in case you need them to testify on your behalf. 

5. Remember that fault is not yet determined.

As much as we may want to deny that we were at fault in an accident or to admit that we were, refrain from discussing this with anyone aside from the police or your personal injury lawyer. “An apology or an admission of being at fault could be used against you later when determining who is responsible for the collision.” Roma Luciw, The Globe And Mail

6. Report the collision to ICBC and get a claim number.

This ICBC claim number is very important and will be used extensively for vehicle repairs and treatments.

7. Get checked out by a doctor.

Even if you think your injuries are minor, it never hurts to have a checkup either at the ER, your GP or a walk in clinic. This will also show that you have taken steps to treat your injuries.

8. If you are unable to work, get a medical note and record of employment from your employer.

Unless you have sick-leave benefits, apply for short-term disability benefits or EI sickness benefits. Speak to your employer if you do not know what benefits are available to you. If none apply, then ICBC should pay temporary total disability benefits (TTDs).

9. Get the repairs done on your vehicle promptly.

Once you have taken the necessary steps to ensure your own safety and long term health, start repairs on your vehicle as soon as possible.

10. Contact Slater Vecchio Personal Injury Lawyers to discuss your options in a warm, stress-free environment.

We know car accidents can be life altering. It is our aim to put control back in your life and help you see that crippling events do not need to cripple your future. We look forward to helping you get what you deserve.

Stay prepared for any situation by downloading the Car Accident Checklist below and keeping it in your car glove compartment.

When is being nice and courteous not always the right thing to do? When you’re on the road. Waving something through traffic or a busy intersection at the wrong time can cause injury or worse. And it makes no difference whether it’s another driver, a cyclist, or a pedestrian. Following the rules of the road is better than being polite.

An incident this summer in North Vancouver shows what can happen when a driver tries to be nice. A driver had stopped early to clear an intersection and then waved through another driver. Unfortunately, the other driver crashed directly into an oncoming cyclist.

“The bike and the cyclist did a cartwheel over the hood of the car,” an RCMP spokesperson said, “and the cyclist hit his head into the car.”

Fortunately, the cyclist was released from the hospital the next day.

It might go against our nice guy, polite Canadian nature, but you should think twice about waving others through or around you.  You could be directing them in front of oncoming traffic or another person or object that you just didn’t see coming.

Being safe is better than being nice.


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Vancouver’s mild climate means most people don’t install winter tires on their cars. Given the problems of last winter, City Hall thinks it might be time to change that. Council is considering a proposal to fine drivers who do not use winter tires in the colder months.

While the city’s political leaders mull over this idea, there are a few things you should know about winter driving.

In most parts of BC, winter tires are necessary. On some highways, signs indicate that winter tires or chains should be in use between October 1 and March 31. You’ve likely seen these along the Sea-to-Sky highway and the Coquahalla. Police can ticket you and send you back if you don’t have snow tires or chains.

Transport Canada regulations require winter tires to be specifically designed to grip the road at temperatures below 7°C. Your summer and even all season tires are not equipped to handle colder conditions.

If you do get into an accident where it is determined that winter tires could have helped, ICBC may consider you at fault for the crash. ICBC offers a helpful guide for selecting and storing winter tires.

And what about your all-season tires? Won’t they do? Not necessarily and the reason essentially comes down to science and design.

While all-season tires can handle many different road conditions, they are not all that good at handling the cold. The harder rubber in all-seasons gives them great durability, but when temperatures drop, the rubber gets even harder and starts to lose traction. The softer rubber in winter tires is much better at remaining flexible enough to grip cold, icy roads. The treads on both tires are also different, with winter tires being the best for pushing away slush, ice, and snow and getting a solid grip on the road surface.

With winter fast approaching and city council continuing to debate the issue, this is a good time to assess your driving needs. Think about the kind of driving you do, find out what kind of tires you use and need, and talk to a tire or automotive specialist today about installing winter tires on your car.

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In BC there is a car crash nearly every 2 minutes. It’s costly and can be devastating for some families. Just last year, ICBC paid out nearly $4 billion in injury and vehicle damage claims. And the year before, 300 people died on our roads.

If you think things are getting worse, you’re right. ICBC reported a 23% increase in crashes between 2013 and 2016. A lot of that is because there are more cars and people on the roads and too many drivers let themselves get distracted by their electronic devices.

Driver attitude is also a factor. A recent survey showed that 99% of BC drivers think they’re good or excellent drivers. But 75% had wrong answers on a road test quiz. Another 20% admitted they were aggressive drivers, and a third said they bend the rules when they think there’s no one else around. These are not the traits of excellent drivers.

So what can you do to make our roads safer?

The number one thing is to follow the rules. That means no speeding, no reckless driving, and never allow yourself to become distracted by an electronic device. No text or tweet is worth a crash. Driving requires your full attention. You have to be cautious and alert when behind the wheel. Be aware of what’s going on around you and keep your focus on driving.

If you have kids that are approaching their driving years, there are two things you can do. First, be a good example. They learn from your habits – good and bad – whether you’re aware of that or not. Second, send them to an accredited driving school. They’ll learn proper driving techniques, avoid your bad habits, and they might even teach you a thing or two.

We all have a responsibility to be better drivers so our roads are safer and fewer families are hurt. Do your part and help make BC roads safer for everyone.


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Sun’s out, bikes out, right? It’s a joy to get on your bike and spin around the city – soaking up the rays and feeling the breeze in your face. But before you pedal your way around, it’s a good idea to brush up on your safety tips and know the rules of the road.

Summer brings a spike in bike related crashes and accidents. ICBC stats show that between June and September of every year, 740 people are hurt and seven die in collisions between cars and cyclists. That’s six injured people per day! We need to share the road but we also need to share the responsibility for putting safety first.

If you’re our there biking on one of the beautiful and scenic trails throughout British Columbia or in Vancouver’s network of protected bike lanes, there are a few basics you need to do to keep yourself out of harms way:

Always obey the rules. That means going with the right flow of traffic, sticking within speed limits, and following all signs as posted. Need to brush up on what the rules for cyclists are in BC? Check the government website for full details.

While it isn’t the law in BC, you should also follow the “One Meter Rule” when it comes to biking beside cars. You don’t want to slam into an opening car door or a pedestrian slipping through a few parked cars. Give yourself room to avoid the risk of a crash.

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One horrible lesson we’ve learned with the advance of cellular and smartphone technology is that distracted driving kills. But still, people continue to be lured by the bings and rings of their phones. That’s why in 2010, BC implemented a set of new regulations to the Motor Vehicle Act that banned the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving.

That means no talking on hand-held devices, no texting, no searching Google, no posting to social media, not even touching your phone or using it while stopped at a red light. It is a complete ban on hand-held devices and the list of what isn’t permitted is extensive (check the link for a helpful look at what the law says you can and cannot use while driving).

Unfortunately, our distracted driving problem hasn’t gone away. Last June, the government increased fines and penalties, with multiple offenders facing an escalating level of fines – up to thousands of dollars! And yes, touching your phone while driving is an offence, including when you’re stopped at a red light.

One North Vancouver man found that out when he was ticketed for plugging in his phone while stopped at a red light. He challenged the ticket (and the law itself) all the way to the BC Supreme Court. In her decision, Justice Maisonville ruled against the North Vancouver resident stating, “it’s the handling of the device, and the use, not whether the device was capable of transmitting or receiving, that is the issue before the court.”

The law is tough, some may even say harsh, but the deadly reality is distracted drivers are leaving a path of carnage and tears along our roadways. BC’s laws are some of the strictest in North America and now backed by this Supreme Court ruling, they’ll continue to do their part to curb distracted driving. Now the challenge is for all of us to our part. When driving, leave your phone alone!

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When it comes to life in the great outdoors, few places on earth are as blessed as BC. With the spring and summer hiking season about to get going, you may be thinking about hitting one of the many hiking trails in our area. There are many to choose from but your first choice is always to put safety first.

Here are a few tips and ideas for making your trek a safe one.

Choose your trail

Before you head out, always make sure you plan ahead. Check out Vancouver Trails for an excellent rundown of nearly every hiking trail in the BC South Coast. They provide information such as length of the trail, incline and difficulty, where to find it, whether or not it is pet friendly, and amenities on or near the trail. Some trails can be extremely challenging and long, requiring an overnight stay. Know your ability and don’t push yourself to the point of injury.

Check weather and gear

On the day of your hike, check weather conditions and make sure you have the appropriate gear – including a change of clothes, the right footwear, and rain gear. Conditions can change quickly especially if you’re hiking through different elevations and things like wet rocks can be very slippery.

Pack snacks and water

While some trails are very close to amenities or even within city limits, others can take you deep into the forests and backcountry. Make sure that you’ve packed enough water and food to last the journey. You need to stay hydrated and fueled for both the physical demands of a hike and your own mental alertness.

Tell your friends

Never go hiking alone – not only is it more enjoyable with friends, it’s safer that way. Even after recruiting a hiking buddy or two, make sure that someone else knows your plans including where you are going, when you are leaving, and when you expect to be back. Bring along a charged cellphone to contact your friends if you get separated, run late, or change your plans. And check in again when you’re back.

Respect our four-legged friends

Metro Vancouver may be one of the most populated parts of Canada, but it’s also home to many wild creatures like coyotes, cougars, bears, and more. Some of these you don’t want to encounter when you’re in the middle of the forest. When they feel threatened, they can be a danger. Make a bit of noise along your hike to let them know you’re there (they really don’t want to be around humans and will gladly stay to themselves if they know you’re coming), but if you do come across a bear or other large animal, give them their space and calmly back away.

Follow directions

From the weather to the trail itself, in rain or under the hot sun, trail conditions change all the time. And some trails have special requirements or rules. Many of the marked trails in the area will have signs posted throughout to let you know what the conditions and rules are. Follow them! They are they for everyone’s enjoyment and safety.

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Like cherry blossoms and daffodils, every spring in Vancouver sees the return of something truly spectacular – thousands of people out enjoying the Seawall. But 30 kms of seaside trails can result in conflicts between people wheeling it and people heeling it. Cyclists, rollerbladers, pedestrians, and joggers need to share the Seawall and follow the rules.

You’ve probably experienced it. Out for a sunny stroll near Granville Island when a speeding cyclist takes a turn too quickly and nearly crashes into you. Or you’re enjoying a leisurely bike ride around Stanley Park when a group of walkers and gawkers wanders off the pedestrian path and into the bike route to snap photos of the totem poles.

It can be frustrating and dangerous.

As the crown jewel of the city, the Seawall is meant to be enjoyed. Here are four easy things you can do to make it a safer, more delightful experience for everyone.

Stick to your lane

There’s a simple reason why most of the Seawall has two separate lanes: it’s safer that way. While there are spots where space is limited and the path has to be shared, it is mostly separated into two well-marked lanes. Generally, people on foot take the water side and their trail is often “bumpy” (made of paver bricks, cobblestones, or grooved concrete). The path for the faster moving wheeled set is on the inside and is smooth (except in shared areas where the “bumps” help slow those wheels down). If that isn’t apparent, there are signs to let you know which lane is yours. Stick to your side and stay safe.

Watch your speed

If you’re on fast-moving wheels – mostly bikes and inline skates – mind your speed and stick to your paths. You’re travelling at a faster pace than walkers or runners and need more space for sudden stops. And in case you didn’t know, the Seawall has a speed limit: 15 km/h. And yes, police will enforce it. For runners, be mindful of pedestrians ahead and navigate your way through them carefully when going by.

Beware of sticky points

While you should be careful and alert at all times, there are a few areas where things get quite congested and require much more caution and attention. These include areas:

If you decide to skip Vancouver’s Seawall for West Vancouver’s Seawalk, leave your wheeled equipment at home. Bikes and rollerblades are not permitted there. Check local rules for what’s allowed on other municipal trials and paths.

Share and share alike

There are some parts of the Seawall where there’s just not enough room for separate paths (like just west of the Lions Gate Bridge in Stanley Park or near Leg-in-Boot Square on False Creek). In these areas, you have to share the path and the responsibility for safety.

Another thing to share is this message: the Seawall is for everyone’s enjoyment but it also has rules, including rules of etiquette. Ring your bell when you’re biking by and politely point out to people if they’re not in the correct lane. Keep your dogs on a leash, a close eye on your kids, and don’t get your head stuck in your phone when you’re walking through busy parts of the Seawall. Just a few simple things can make for a great day on our magnificent crown jewel.

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A recent study in BC showed that among frequent marijuana users, 80% of men and 75% of women admitted to driving after consuming marijuana in the previous month. While some will claim they are “better drivers” when they’re high, evidence says otherwise.

According to that same study “acute marijuana use approximately doubles the rate of crashing.” Jeff Brubacher, an emergency room doctor at VGH and co-author of the study, believes legalization could mean more road crashes, injuries, and fatalities. With legalization around the corner, now is the time to get educated.

Since making it an issue in the 2015 Federal Election, the Trudeau government has now revealed its plan to legalize recreational marijuana in the summer of 2018. Driving while high is a central part of the proposal, with proposed regulations to keep stoned drivers off the road.

Under the Cannabis Act, Canadians over the age of 18 will then be legally allowed to possess, grow, and purchase a limited amount of products made from cannabis – including cannabis itself plus oils, plants, and seeds. Details about the proposed act can be found on the Government of Canada website here.

While the permitted amount will be small (30 grams with some definitions clarified on the government site linked above), it will be illegal to consume marijuana and drive. If the law passes, it will include amendments to the Criminal Code that will cover enforcement, roadside testing, penalties, and criminal consequences. Driving while stoned will be very much like drinking and driving – a criminal offence.

Should recreational pot use become legal in Canada, we need to be aware of the risks of getting stoned and getting behind the wheel of a car. We’ve seen for decades how deadly drinking and driving is. And more recently, we’re seeing the dangers of drivers distracted by their cell phones. If you’re high, you don’t drive.

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Rain, rain, go away – right? But this is British Columbia, so we live with it. To make our lives safer and better when our rain forest cities live up to their “Wet Coast” reputation, approaching rainy roadways takes a different skillset than the during the drier days of summer.

Here are a few things to do when the when driving in the rain.

Check your car

Rain hampers visibility and on the road, you need to see and be seen. This means clearing dirt and debris from headlights and tail lamps and seeing that all lights are working. Also make sure your wipers function properly and that you have topped up the washer fluid. Check to see your tires are inflated properly and that there are no problems with the brakes.

Check your speed

Once you are on the road, take it slow. Wet roads are slippery roads and excessive (or even normal) speeds are dangerous. Rain will bring out oil and gas residue in the pavement and that adds a layer of slickness. Braking takes longer when you speed. Add a slippery surface and you’re adding more to your braking time.

Adjust your driving

Aside from a safe speed, rain requires a few other changes to the way you drive. Leave plenty of room for sudden stops, and no tailgating. Watch for larger vehicles like trucks and buses. Give them plenty of room and keep an eye out for when they’re travelling through puddles. An 18-wheeler plowing through water can blind you as it hits your windshield.

Handling hydroplaning

Hydroplaning can be one of the scariest experiences on a rain-soaked road. In an instant, you can feel like the car has taken on a mind of its own. But if you do hydroplane, don’t panic. You’re still in control. Stay calm, focus on where you want the car to go, ease off the gas and ease on the brakes to adjust speed (don’t slam either pedal!), and steer yourself away from the water.

Into each life a little rain must fall. But just a few minutes of preparation, a few adjustments to your regular habits, and a calm attitude will help you make it through the storm and back home safely.


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