- April 13, 2016
- by WILL DAVIDSON LLP
If you are reading this, there is a good chance you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident and you are looking for compensation. This article is intended to demystify the process of speaking with a personal injury lawyer. It will provide some primary information about motor vehicle accident claims, and things we must consider. Let’s get going!
Two Types of Assistance and Compensation
Typically, a person injured in a motor vehicle accident has two types of assistance and compensation available.
Accident Benefits – also called ‘No Fault’ benefits – usually are paid by your own auto insurer. Though there are circumstances where another person’s auto insurer will pay. These benefits include payments for income replacement, medical and rehabilitation expense, and a myriad of other expenses depending on the nature of your injuries. These benefits are paid by your own insurer regardless of who is at fault for the accident. And such coverage is mandatory in Ontario. You need not be an occupant of an automobile in order to claim for accident benefits. You might be a cyclist, or a pedestrian, for example.
Tort Claims arise from a civil wrong resulting in injury or harm. These claims provide compensation to you. The compensation is paid by the insurer for the person(s) that caused your injury. The compensation can be significant, depending on your injuries and their effects. It may include compensation for your pain and suffering; current and future income losses; current and future medical and rehabilitation expenses; loss of enjoyment of life; and other expenses and losses.
In summary, if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, you will likely have two claims. One for accident benefits (even in a single car accident). And another for tort compensation (this too could be a single vehicle accident, for example if a road is improperly maintained and causes you to lose control of your vehicle).
Liability and Damages
As noted, accident benefits are paid regardless of who is at fault. In a tort claim, however, the party at fault is responsible to pay damages (compensation) for your suffering and losses. Let’s look at this a bit closer.
Liability refers to who is responsible for the injuries and losses. That is, who caused, or is at fault, for the accident. Consequently, when you call we will want you to provide your best reasonable recollection of events. We will want to know what happened, when, where, why (e.g. speeding, or weather conditions), and how. We will also want to know who was involved. We appreciate you may not have all of this information at hand when you call. Your best recollection will be a good start.
Damages refer to the financial award paid to you for your injury and losses. Thus, we will be most interested in learning what specific injuries you sustained in the collision, and their effect upon you. And we will also want to know of any financial losses (e.g. time away from work). This information will help us form an opinion as to how to best assist you.
You may not be the only person entitled to damages. Members of your family may also be entitled to compensation for their loss of your care, guidance and companionship. We will discuss this with you when you call.
Damages can vary depending upon personal circumstances. Consider, for example, an injury to the fingers of your left hand. If you earn your living driving a taxi, an injury to your left fingers will have some impact on your job. If, however, you earn your living as a symphony violinist, an injury to your left fingers could end your career. Same injury, different people, can lead to differing levels of damages.
In summary, we will want to hear your story so that we may assess potential liability (who is at fault) and damages (what level of compensation might be paid), in order to best determine how to assist you.
Remember we talked about liability? That is, who is responsible for your injury and damages? This leads to the issue of contributory negligence. Negligence refers to the failure to take reasonable care to avoid injury or loss to another person. So, the party liable for your injuries and losses is the negligent party.
There can be more than one person responsible for your injuries. For example, a speeding car on a snowy highway may lose control and crash into you. In such a situation, the driver of the speeding car, and the authority responsible for plowing the highway, may both be at fault. And so, they are contributorily negligent.
A very real occurrence is that the injured person their self may be partially responsible for their own loss, and thus be deemed contributorily negligent. For example, if you were not wearing your seat belt in a collision, you may be partially responsible for your injuries. And so, you may be deemed contributorily negligent.
Contributory negligence can affect the value of your claim. If a jury finds you 75% responsible for your own injuries, any money awarded to you in a tort claim will be reduced by 75%.
The Threshold Injury
In Ontario, not all auto accident injuries are compensable in a tort action. To receive compensation you must sustain what is commonly called a “threshold” injury. That is, in general terms, an injury that results in a permanent, serious, impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function; or, permanent, serious disfigurement (scarring). Note the emphasis on “function”. It is not so much the type of injury that matters. Rather, it is the effect of the injury on your ability to function.
What Do We Want to Know About Your Car Accident
Actually, it is pretty easy: tell us the truth about the accident and your injuries. Even if you think what you tell us may not help your case. We say this for at least two reasons. First, something you think will detract from your case might actually help it! Second, if, early on, we will know what hurdles we may face with your claims. Our personal injury lawyers in Toronto, Oakville, Huntsville, Lindsay, Burlington, Markham, Orillia, Midland, Whitby and Bowmanville can better prepare to overcome those hurdles when an opposing party raises them.
Our Personal Injury Lawyers are located in Huntsville, Midland and throughout Southern Ontario
It’s impossible to know everything from your initial call to Will Davidson LLP. But one thing to keep in mind is that your claims must be proven. To prove your claims we will obtain documentation to present to your insurer, or the insurer of the person who injured you. Documents such as past and current medical records help establish your pre and post-accident health, and so, what injuries you suffered in the accident. This helps determine your compensation in tort claims, and payment of certain benefits in accident benefits claims.
Our personal injury lawyers have been representing clients injured in motor vehicle accidents for over 90 years. Our lawyers have helped thousands of victims recover compensation for injuries caused as a result of an auto collision. This is just the beginning of a learning curve for you. But rest assured we are here to help, and to walk you through the process, so that we may best obtain rightful compensation and assistance for your motor vehicle accident injuries. With locations in Huntsville, Midland, Toronto, Oakville, Burlington, Orillia, Whitby, Markham, Lindsay, and Bowmanville, our legal experts welcome the opportunity to provide you with a no obligation consultation.
Contact us today for your no-obligation consultation. Let our legal experts help you and your family get the results you deserve. 1-866.840.9002
If you’ve found this information helpful, consider sharing it with others who may also benefit. Please share, like & follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google + using the links below!