I’ve been in an accident – What now?
Q: What are the first steps that I should take, after the accident occurs?
- Contact your insurer, who will ask you to fill out Form AB-1: Notice of Loss & Proof of Claim Form;
- File a police report;
- Take photographs of any property damage or injuries;
- Document your injuries and your symptoms;
- If you did not seek immediate medical attention after the accident, see your family doctor (GP) as soon as possible. If you do not have a family doctor, attend a medicentre;
- Follow the medical advice or treatment plan provided by your health care professional(s);
- Keep receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses you incur due to the accident;
- Keep a record of any work missed due to the accident;
- The insurer of the at-fault party may contact you. We recommend speaking with a lawyer prior to communicating with the at-fault insurer.
Q: If I want to sue the other driver for my injuries, what information will my lawyer need?
Your lawyer will schedule an initial meeting with you to discuss the accident and your injuries. Be prepared to discuss the circumstances of the accident, such as the road conditions, time of day, and how the accident occurred. Pinpointing the exact location of the accident on a map with a diagram is helpful. Your lawyer will also ask you detailed questions about your injuries, such as when you started to suffer symptoms, any diagnoses made by health care professionals, and your ongoing symptomatology.
You should bring the following with you to your initial appointment, if available:
- Photo identification;
- Police report;
- Witness statements;
- Photographs of vehicle damage and/or injuries;
- A list of all the healthcare professionals you have seen in relation to accident and their contact information, such as: hospital, surgeon, family doctor (GP), physiotherapist, massage therapist, chiropractor, etc.;
- Copies of documentation received from your insurer or the at-fault driver’s insurer; and
- Receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses that you have incurred due to the accident.
Q: How long will it take to settle my personal injury file?
As each personal injury file is different, this answer is not predictable. One factor to consider is the type and duration of your injuries. To fully compensate you, we usually do not attempt to settle a file until your injuries are resolved or you have reached maximum medical improvement, which is the point at which your medical professional believes you have plateaued and will not improve any further. Differing medical opinions, disputes over liability (who was at fault), or the need to hire experts may also affect the duration of a personal injury file. On the low end, a personal injury file may settle within six months; on the other hand, cases involving serious long-term or permanent injuries may take several years to resolve.
Q: What compensation is available?
There are various types of compensation to which a personal injury plaintiff (the injured party who opens the file) may be entitled. These are referred to as heads of damages, which may include:
- General damages: compensation for pain and suffering;
- Loss of income: compensation for wage loss suffered as a result of the accident;
- Loss of earning capacity: compensation for the loss of the ability to earn income;
- Loss of Housekeeping capacity: compensation for the loss of the ability to look after your home and perform household tasks, including yardwork;
- Cost of future care: compensation for the future costs you may incur to treat your injuries;
- Special damages: compensation for the out-of-pocket expenses you incurred due to the accident, such as prescriptions, treatments, medical supplies, etc.
- Loss of consortium: in some cases, a family member, often a spouse, may be compensated for the deprivation of benefits they incur due to the other family member’s injury.
Q: Insurers: Who’s Who?
When a motor vehicle accident occurs, there may be multiple insurers involved, which may be confusing.
- Your own insurer: as a driver or the owner of a vehicle, you will have your own insurance policy with an insurer. This policy provides you with Accident Benefits coverage (also known as Section B coverage), which may cover some of your medical expenses and financial losses after an accident.
- The other driver’s insurer: the other driver or the owner of the other vehicle should have their own insurance policy with an insurer. If you open a personal injury file against this other driver, you will be pursuing compensation from this insurer, not your own.
- Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act: Cases sometimes arise in which, the driver of the at-fault vehicle is not insured, or where the at-fault driver flees the scene and is not identified (i.e. hit-and-run); or, the driver may flee the scene of an accident and remain unidentified. When these instances occur, an injured victim may be able to seek compensation under the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program.
This article was written by Andria Huculak. Andria is a lawyer at McCuaig Desrochers LLP, and practices in various areas of law, including personal injury law.