Every year thousands of Canadians are injured from vehicle accidents alone. According to Transport Canada, the number of collision related fatalities in 2014 was 1,834. Whereas the number of collision related serious injuries was 9,647; and the total number of collision related injuries was 149,900. Vehicle or non-vehicle related, if you’re injured in an accident it’s important to know your rights.
In Canada, you’re entitled to monetary compensation if you’ve been involved in an accident through no fault of your own. While it cannot erase the situation, it will certainly help make life easier for you and your family. In Ontario, there are two ways to obtain this compensation. Your first option is by making a personal injury claim. Your second option is to file a personal injury lawsuit. Here are the key differences between both methods.
Making a Personal Injury Claim
Making a personal injury claim is one of the first things you should do after an accident. To begin the process, you must submit a formal claim informing the insurance company of your accident and injuries. In Ontario, you have two years from the date of an accident to file a claim. However, some insurance companies demand you file a claim within 24 to 28 hours.
After filing your claim, the insurance company will launch an investigation. This may include reviewing medical records, assessing damages, speaking to witnesses, etc. Through this process the insurance company will determine the merits of your claim. From there the settlement process will begin. The compensation you receive will be based mostly on three aspects. These include out of pocket expenses, lost wages and possibly “general damages” or pain and suffering. This process may require a lot of back and forth and negotiation between you and the insurance company.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
After an accident that is not your fault, you will always make a personal injury claim but you may not always file a lawsuit. One of the biggest differences is that when you make a claim, the at-fault party is represented by the insurance company. However, when you file a lawsuit, you are suing them directly.
The lawsuit process is a more complex route. Usually you will only consider this after attempts at making a personal injury claim have resulted in low offers. To begin a personal injury lawsuit you must hire a lawyer. Your lawyer will do their research and then draft a “Statement of Claim”. From there the defendant will respond with a “Statement of Defence”. The next step is a three hour mediation, which is mandatory in Ontario. After this comes the discovery, where each team exchanges and examines relevant documents. Before trial a “Settlement Conference” will take place. If there is no settlement agreement, then the trial will begin.
If you’ve been injured in a serious accident it’s important to know your options. At the end of the day, determining which method is right for you will depend on the nature of your accident and the severity of your injuries. As with any legal situation, you should contact a professional before making your decision. Even if the process seems straightforward, an experienced personal injury lawyer will work for you to maximize your settlement. For more information or to talk to a lawyer, set up a consultation today.