Pandemics and Your Personal Injury Case

Pandemics and Your Personal Injury Case

As everyone is aware, COVID-19 is nearly everywhere and is disrupting our lives in a very serious way. We all can’t help but wonder when this will all be over. Of course, nobody really knows the answer to this. In the meantime many businesses are forced to close, people have lost their jobs and are unable to congregate in large groups. Gyms are closed. Many doctors’ offices are closed and so are private clinics such as physiotherapists, massage therapists, kinesiologists, occupational therapists, etc. 

After a serious car accident people are in desperate need of medical attention. They are tired and stressed. Dealing with a pandemic is just icing on the cake. They need treatment in order to begin the process of rehabilitation. If clinics are closed victims of car accidents may actually get worse because they can’t receive the medical attention they need. This may not be a problem if a lockdown lasts for only a couple of weeks or a month. However, people will eventually start running into problems if they are unable to get into therapy. This is the case for people with broken bones or soft tissue/chronic pain issues.

So what can you do if you find yourself in this situation? Here are some tips:

  • Continue your at-home exercises that your physiotherapist gave you when you started treatment. Most clinics will provide their clients with exercises to do at home in between sessions. They are often focused around stretching and strengthening the body.
  • Call your family doctor and if they won’t see you during a pandemic then at least tell them to document that (1) you were in a car accident; (2) you want them to note your current issues; and (3) ask for advice what to do next and when to follow up with your doctor again per the doctor’s orders.

If you are off work because of a car accident then you will still be entitled to an income replacement benefit. The insurance companies are not shut down in this pandemic and so they will still process your claim. Advise your accident benefits adjuster that you are off work because of the accident. You will need to first fill the OCF-1 (Application for Accident Benefits). After this is completed and submitted you will need to fill the OCF-2 (Employers Confirmation Form). Your employer will have to complete a portion of this form and submit it to the insurance company. You will also need to complete the OCF-3 (Disability Certificate). Your treating practitioner or doctor will complete a portion of this form and also send it to your insurance company. These documents submitted with some paystubs should be enough to calculate your income replacement benefit. You may also provide income tax returns, bank statements, T4 or ROEs to substantiate your income loss calculation. As you will see in the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule you are entitled to 70% of your gross income up to a maximum of $400.00/week, unless you purchased optional benefits in which case you would receive more.

Typically, if you are injured in an automobile accident you have an obligation to “mitigate your damages”. In the personal injury context, it means you need to make efforts to get better by attending treatment and seeing your doctor, specialists, etc. In times of a pandemic such as coronavirus you should not be penalized for not wanting or being able to attend treatment. You do not want to contract any illnesses and most clinics are closed anyway. The insurer, and more importantly the jury, will understand why you were not able to attend treatment in order to mitigate your damages. You can expect the insurance company to take the position that you have failed to mitigate damages. Be prepared to give them your good reason for not doing so!