If you have suffered injuries from a motor vehicle accident, you can file a lawsuit to recover damages. Our personal injury lawyers at Equilibrium Law can help you file your claim and walk you through the legal process. With our many years of experience, we can help you get maximum compensation for your injuries. Continue reading for legal advice on personal injury cases for car accidents and learn more about the ins and outs of car accident insurance claims. It’s essential to know your legal rights and the legal process.
After the Car Accident
- If you have been injured, seek medical assistance
- Get the license of the vehicle and the contact information of the driver (if you were involved in a hit and run, notify the police)
- Take pictures of the site of the accident (the road/intersection, the other vehicle(s) involved)
- Take pictures of your injuries
- Record names and contact information of any witnesses
- Record the date, time, and location of the accident
- Keep track of your medical bills and records
- You should notify your insurance of the accident and your intent to file a claim within 7 days of the accident
How Long Do I Have to File
If you are injured in an Ontario car accident, you generally have two years from the accident date to start a claim against the at-fault driver for financial compensation. That deadline can be extended if certain legal conditions are met but waiting beyond two years is never a good idea.
How Does Insurance Work
In Ontario, regardless of who is at fault for the accident, you make a claim to your insurance company for the damages resulting from your car accident. Your insurance company will then pay you whatever you are owed for property damages and injuries. Behind the scene, your insurance company will fight with the other driver’s insurance company to determine fault and then decide which insurance company will have to reimburse the other.
In Ontario, all drivers are required to have basic-level auto insurance. The four basic coverages that any auto insurance policy must have is:
- Third-party liability coverage – the insurance of the driver that hit you will cover the damage caused to you and your property
- Statutory accident benefits coverage – covers medical expenses, cleaning/house maintenance expenses, loss of income ( if you didn’t have a job, you can receive non-earners benefits), caregiver services (in-home nurse, etc.), and other expenses.
- Uninsured automobile insurance – covers if you were hit by a non-insured vehicle or a hit-and-run driver.
How Do I Submit a Claim to My Insurer
Before you can sue anyone for compensation, you have to file your claim with your own insurance company. To do that, it is easiest to call your insurance company or broker and notify them of the accident. They will then ask you for all the required information to process your claim. You should do this within seven days of the accident. If not, your insurance claim may be denied. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate your insurance claim and all other legal matters.
What Benefits Can I Claim from My Insurer
Benefits paid by your insurance company are called Statutory Accident Benefits. You may not qualify for all (or any) benefits depending on your insurance policy and the nature and severity of your injuries. Nevertheless, all automobile insurance policies in Ontario provide the same basic benefits to those who qualify. These include
- Income Replacement Benefit – this benefit is intended to help in the event you cannot return to your job and is calculated at 70% of your gross income up to a maximum of $400/wk.
- Non-Earner Benefit – this benefit is typically paid as an alternative to the income replacement benefit (though not always) and is intended to help you cover your expenses if you cannot carry on your normal life.
- Medical and Rehabilitation Benefits – these benefits are intended to cover the cost of treatment that is not funded by OHIP such as physiotherapy, psychotherapy, and medications prescribed to treat injuries suffered in the car accident.
What About Pain and Suffering
If you are injured in a car accident in Ontario, there are several restrictions on your right to sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering. Generally, your impairments have to be characterized as “permanent and serious” and must be associated with an “important physical, psychological, or mental function.”
This restriction on the right to sue is often called a “verbal threshold” and simply means that your injuries or impairments have to cause a negative and lasting impact on your life. Often this involves a comparison between your pre-accident life and your post-accident life and is often measured against your ability to work, to love, or to live.
How Much Compensation Do I Receive
Unlike many other jurisdictions (e.g. the United States), compensation for pain and suffering caused by injuries suffered in a car accident are “capped” at approximately $418,000 (in 2022).
That’s because, in 1978, the Supreme Court of Canada decided that there had to be a balance between the right to receive financial compensation for your injuries and the associated costs of obtaining insurance in Canada. The original cap was set at $100,000 but has since risen for inflation over the years.
In addition to the “cap,” in Ontario, most claims for pain and suffering are also subject to a statutory “deductible.” This means that once a judge or jury fixes an amount to give you as compensation for your injuries, the insurance company can “deduct” (i.e. withhold) a fixed amount from the award and only pay you the difference (i.e. after the deduction). The amount of the deductible changes over time and is adjusted for inflation. In 2022, the amount of the deductible is $41,503. The deductible is not applied if your compensation for pain and suffering exceeds $138,343 (in 2022).
What If I Can’t Return to Work
In Ontario, if you are injured in a car accident and can’t return to your job, you have an unrestricted right to sue the at-fault driver for your lost earnings.
And even if you can return to your job, if you are disadvantaged at work (e.g. can’t work the same hours, can’t get a promotion, have to be accommodated), you can sue the at-fault driver for a loss of competitive advantage.
What If I am Partly to Blame for the Accident
Deciding who is at fault for causing an accident is the jury’s job (or if there isn’t a jury, the judge’s), and it isn’t always an all-or-nothing decision.
Various rules and regulations in Ontario can help determine who is at fault for an accident. However, even in situations where one person clearly “caused” the accident, fault can still be imposed on the “innocent” motorist who failed to “avoid” the collision or to react appropriately to the situation.
For that reason, Ontario has adopted a system of “contributory” negligence and will impose fault on anyone involved in an accident so long as they are at least 1% at fault. This includes the motorist who fails to take reasonable steps to avoid the collision and, potentially, any government authorities responsible for the design and maintenance of the roadway itself.
Of course, if you are also at fault, your compensation will be reduced by the degree of blame imposed on you by the jury.
Should I Hire a Lawyer to Help
Acquiring maximum compensation for injuries and losses suffered in a motor vehicle accident can be very stressful. Insurance companies have strict timelines for submitting claims and have caps on the compensation you can receive. If you chose to pursue a lawsuit to recover additional damages, there are different timelines.
It’s a good idea to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows how to navigate the system quickly and efficiently so that you get the compensation you deserve.
Our team of personal injury lawyers can help you build a strong case to convince the judge that your injuries are serious and permanent and that you meet the threshold to receive compensation. We can also help calculate all expenses and losses and present a fair settlement so that you get full compensation for all past and future losses. We provide legal representation of a high standard to help you through this difficult time.
If you have suffered a physical injury from a motor vehicle accident or have any further claims-related questions, contact our Equilibrium law legal team. We can help you get successful results for your motor vehicle injury lawsuit. Give us a call or fill out our claim form and leave your email address and we will contact you as soon as possible. Our primary focus is getting you the compensation you deserve.