If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is important that you consult an Ottawa personal injury lawyer as soon as possible in order to obtain advice on your legal rights, applicable time limits, as well as preserve any personal injury claim you may have.
Ontario has what can be classified as a partial no fault system when it comes to accidents involving motor vehicles. This applies whether you are in a vehicle yourself at the time of the accident, or injured by a vehicle as a pedestrian or cyclist.
What this means is that for minimal claims, or injuries that you will fully recover from, the system intends you to access your accident benefits for compensation. These are the benefits you are entitled to through your automobile insurance policy, or the policy on the vehicle involved in the accident if you do not have your own policy. The benefits you are entitled to are listed below under “claims for statutory accident benefits”. In some situations however, you are also entitled to claim compensation from the at-fault party, for damages over and above those covered by your accident benefits. In order to be able to bring a claim, your injuries must be deemed “permanent and serious”. Claims that meet this test are said to meet the “threshold”.
It should be noted however that claims for income loss are treated differently, and you do not have to meet this threshold in order to pursue a claim for any income losses you have sustained as a result of an accident.
Therefore, if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in Ontario, you may be entitled to two types of compensation:
Claims against an at-fault party (Tort Claim):
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may have the right to sue the party who was at fault for the accident. This is referred to as a “tort” claim; the word tort meaning a civil wrong. Compensation can be claimed for pain and suffering, economic losses, health care expenses, attendant care needs and other out of pocket expenses that you might incur as a result of your injury. Often, your family members will also be entitled to some degree of compensation if the accident and your injuries have had an impact upon their lives as well.
If you are planning on pursuing a tort claim against an at fault party, you are required to send a notice letter to that party regarding the potential law suit within 120 days of the accident. The letter does not mean you are then obliged to start a law suit, but it preserves your right to do so. In general, you have two years from the date of the accident to start a legal action, and you should ensure that you have obtained legal advice well before this time frame expires.
Claims for Statutory Accident Benefits:
Regardless of who is at fault, you are entitled to claim statutory accident benefits from your automobile insurer if you are injured in a car accident. If you personally do not have an automobile insurer, these benefits can be obtained from the insurance policy relating to the vehicle(s) involved in the accident.
Your family members may also be entitled to claim accident benefits if the accident has also impacted their health and ability to work.
Following an accident you should notify your insurer within 7 days. They will provide you with a package of documentation, including an Application for Accident Benefits, which should be submitted to them within 30 days of the accident. Often clients have difficulty navigating the paperwork, particularly if they have just been injured in an accident and are focused on treatment and recovery. Our personal injury lawyers can assist you in your application and advise you as to your entitlement, as well as speak directly to your insurer on your behalf when needed.
Depending on the seriousness of your injuries and what optional coverage you have purchased, you may be entitled to the following benefits:
Income Replacement Benefits:
These benefits pay 70% of your net income, to a maximum of $400 a week, unless you have purchased optional coverage extending them. The benefits commence one week following the accident, if you meet the test of being substantially unable to do your job. After 104 weeks, benefits will continue if you have a complete inability to engage in employment to which you are suited by training or education. These benefits are then reduced after age 65.
If you were not employed at the time of your accident, you may be entitled to a benefit of $185 per week if you have suffered a complete inability to carry on a normal life. These benefits commence 26 weeks after your accident.
In some circumstances, if you provided care to someone you lived with at the time of the accident, you may be entitled to a care giver benefit in the amount of $250 a week, plus $50 a week for each additional person requiring care.
Note that you cannot receive IRBs, non-earner benefits and care-giver benefits at the same time. Your lawyer can advise you as to which benefits you are eligible for and what benefit you should elect to receive if entitled to more than one.
Medical/RehabilitatIon AND ATTENDANT CARE Benefits:
You may receive up to $65,000 in Medical/Rehabilitation and Attendant Care Benefits for up to 5 years following the accident. If your injury is considered “catastrophic” this amount increases to available benefits of up to $1,000,000 over the course of your life.
Housekeeping and Home Maintenance:
This benefit is available in the amount of $100/week, if your injury is catastrophic, or if you have purchased optional coverage for non-catastrophic injuries.
Other benefits provided by your insurer include coverage of expenses for family members that visit you during your recovery, lost education expenses for students, and death benefits in the event that a family member was killed in a motor vehicle accident.
Denial of Benefits:
If you are denied benefits that you believe you are entitled to by your insurer, we can help you dispute the denial. In general you have two years in which to dispute a denial of any benefit.
Review of significant time limits:
- Within 7 days of the accident notify your accident benefits insurer.
- Within 10 days, if the municipality may be at fault for the accident (road disrepair, failure to salt resulting in a slippery road etc.), put them on notice of the potential claim.
- Within 30 days of the accident submit an application for accident benefits.
- Within 120 days of the accident, put the at fault driver on notice of your potential law suit.
- Within 2 years of the accident, bring a lawsuit against the at fault driver.