The Process Of Deciding Whether An Injured Person Should Pursue A Lawsuit When There Has Been A Car Accident.
Usually the client comes to us soon after the car accident wanting to know what their rights are and what they should be doing. We advise them, first of all, that they must apply for accident benefits through their own insurance company. If the client was a pedestrian injured in an accident without car insurance, then they must apply for accident benefits to the insurance company of the vehicle involved. We try to guide them through that process and explain to them what is required to meet the threshold for law suits against the responsible driver in cases where our client was not at fault in the accident. That takes some time because these are difficult concepts. Basically, we tell people that they may not know for six months to a year whether their injuries are severe or permanent and meet the minimum threshold for lawsuits.
In Ontario, we have private insurance companies which are heavily regulated. The government has set out regulations for lawsuits from people who are injured in a car accident stating that the injured person must first meet a verbal threshold. This means a doctor must be able to provide evidence or report that the injuries are severe. Second, the person’s injuries must be permanent. That is to say, they are not going to get better in the future. Third, the injuries must be significant enough that they interfere with the daily activities of life, so to some extent the person must be physically or emotionally affected to a significant degree.
A doctor is required to certify that the injuries are severe, permanent and disabling. Then they meet the elements of the threshold. A soft tissue injury may seem insignificant at first, but later it may become chronic. Most soft tissue injuries should heal within two to three months. If they do not, then there is usually another element. It may be chronic pain or some other issue that prolongs the pain. Only a small percentage of cases meet the threshold for soft tissue injuries. If it is obviously a very severe injury, involving a broken bone for instance, then it is obvious at the outset, and a lawsuit can proceed. Otherwise, the injured person needs to wait and see what the doctor’s report says before proceeding with a lawsuit.
If a lawsuit proceeds, and a court finds that a person’s injuries do not meet the minimum threshold, described above, the injured party will recover no damages, except for economic losses, and may be required to pay substantial legal costs to the insurer’s defence lawyers.
It is important to remember that even if a lawsuit or claim is successful, there is a $30,000.00 deductible on claims for injuries and a $15,000.00 deductible on claims for family members.
If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with Personal injury law issues in the Brampton, Ontario Region, contact Folkes Legal Professional Corporation.
Note that laws vary from province to province. Please consult with a lawyer in your own area to be sure of the laws and specific issues in your own jurisdiction.