April 25, 2019
Filing Your Personal Injury Claims
When people are injured in a car accident, one of their biggest worries is dealing with the financial repercussions caused by the collision. How will they afford to repair their vehicle? How much will their recovery cost them, both in terms of time off and cost of rehabilitation?
The good news is, being injured in a motor vehicle accident may qualify you for compensation, and filing a personal injury claim is vital for obtaining it.
Who can File Personal Injury Claims?
Personal injury claims are typically filed by the persons who suffered the injuries. However, in some cases — especially when the loss of lives are involved — spouses, children, and other family members may be able to claim for compensation. The statutory requirements to receive compensation for pain and suffering for injuries caused by most motor vehicle accidents are that the injuries cause permanent serious impairment of and important physical, mental or psychological function.
What Can I Sue For?
The majority of personal injury suits are based on negligence; the claim that the action or inaction of the person at fault caused injuries or unlawful death. In some instances, you may be able to file a strict liability case where the court will hold a person or entity responsible despite the absence of a specific act or negligence.
You can be compensated for the following:
- Pain and suffering – The threshold test determines whether someone can sue for compensation for pain and suffering when the negligence arises in the contaxt of a motor vehicle accident. A judge must find that the personal injury resulted in death or permanent, serious impairment of an important physical, mental, or psychological function.
- Personal Loss – Family members may sue for the loss of guidance, companionship, and care — again, as determined by the threshold test if the injuries arise from a motor vehicle accident.
- Medical and healthcare expenses – You may also be compensated for money spent on healthcare and medical costs related to the accident. Full recovery of these expenses is available to those whose injuries pass the threshold test.
- Economic losses – People who suffer serious injuries can also recover lost income or be compensated for the loss of their ability to earn. Other economic losses include the loss of ability to perform housekeeping, handyman or caregiving duties.
How do I Bring a Claim?
When you decide you want to file a claim, your lawyer will draft the necessary documents called the Statement of Claim. This information included in this are:
- The dates of the accident/injury
- The people involved in the accident
- A detailed narrative of how the accident occurred
- An outline of the amount of money you are claiming
- The facts that support your entitlement to the damages
- Laws and relevant legislation that support your claim
The at-fault driver will respond to your claim in a Statement of Defence.
Timelines For Auto Accident Claims
When you file a suit involving auto accidents in Ontario, keep the following deadlines in mind:
- You have seven days to notify your insurance provider about the accident
- You have 30 days to submit an application for accident benefits
- You have 120 days to notify the at-fault driver that you intend to file a case against them
Cases for vehicle damage must be filed within one year of the incident. Personal injury law suits must be filed against the at-fault driver, and their insurance provider, within two years of the accident.
There are exemptions to the two-year statute of limitations. If the person injured was not capable of filing the suit because of their physical, mental, or psychological condition; or if the person injured is under 18 years old and is not represented by a litigation guardian, the courts will allow later filings.
There limitation period may be extend by the operation of the “discoverability rule”. If you are unsure of whether or not your limitation period has passed, you should always speak with a personal injury lawyer to seek advice on the issue.
How Much Will I Spend on a Lawsuit?
Many personal injury lawyers in Ontario work on a contingency fee basis. This means that the client will not have pay any money for their lawyer until the case has been settled or won at trial. Once the case is resolved — whether in advance or after a trial — the client will pay the lawyer a percentage of what they were able to collect. The amount of compensation can vary depending on several factors including which stage of the litigation the case resolves.
How Much Money Will I Receive?
The amount you will recover for your injuries will depend on several factors. Some damages that you may be entitled to, like pain and suffering, are capped at a certain amount. Some factors that can affect the damages you are awarded include:
- Your prognosis and the severity of your injuries
- The cost of rehabilitation and medical treatment
- Other expenses related to your injuries
- Your age
- If you are partially at fault for the accident
- The amount of your income loss
What is the No-Fault System?
“No-fault insurance” doesn’t mean that no one is responsible for the accident. The no-fault system adopted in Ontario means that, regardless of whose fault the accident was, injured parties are compensated by their own insurance providers. This means your own insurance provider will provide accident benefits to you regardless of fault. If another driver was at fault, you can also maintain a claim against the at fault driver.
What You Can Expect When Filing a Claim
First, your lawyer files the Statement of Claims with the appropriate court. This is the actual issuing of your claim.
Second, the other party responds to your statement with a Statement of Defence, a narration of their version of events.
Third, once the court filings are completed, the parties involved will exchange documents and participate in an examiantion for discovery. Each side will be also given the opportunity to have a medical professional assess the severity of the injuries.
After the presentation of evidence, the parties often attempt to settle the claim through mediation or a pre-trial settlement conference. If a settlement is still not reached, the case will proceed to court. This is the trial.
Can You Sue Your Spouse for Personal Injuries?
Some situations require you to name your spouse as a defendant when filing for personal injury claims. For example, if your spouse was driving and caused a car accident, your spouse would need to be named as a defendant in your law suit. If they were properly insured, their insurance company will defend the claim.
Note that personal injury cases are not a one-size-fits-all situation. Your lawyer will advise you on what steps are appropriate in your case.
Why You Should Call a Lawyer As Soon as Possible
You may be tempted to file all paperwork and coordinate with your insurance provider by yourself. Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance as soon as possible for the following reasons:
- Having a lawyer help you out from the very first step minimizes errors that might be committed in filing the necessary paperwork
- It would take time for your lawyer to collect the police and hospital records they need to prepare the document they need to file
- Give your lawyer time to thoroughly examine your case, so they are fully prepared when the time comes to present arguments
- Lawyers want to conduct their own investigations. Hiring your lawyer early on gives them the chance to interview witnesses while their memories are still fresh and take photos of the scene of the incident and the vehicles involved.
When you wait too long to call for legal help, you may be prejudicing your rights, especially as you may not be aware of some legal principles and protocols that are related to your case.
If you need a car accident lawyer in Whitby, call Michelle Linka Law. We provide excellent legal service throughout the Greater Toronto Area, including the York Region, Durham Region, and Peterborough Kawartha area. Call us at (416) 477-7288 to schedule an appointment with us.