If you are involved in an accident through no fault of your own, and it results in an injury, you are entitled to compensation. This monetary award of damages is to cover things like:
- Lost wages
- Incurred medical bills
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
- Emotional suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of support
- Diminished quality of life
- Accommodations for a disability about your home and vehicle
Injuries range from broken bones, herniated discs, disfigurement, significant scarring, limitation of an organ, loss of an organ, death of a loved one and other injuries that require costly surgery.
Are you unsure of what to do following and injury that was not your fault? This is how to make a personal injury claim.
In Canada, there are two choices when pursuing a personal injury for monetary compensation.
- File A Claim
- File A Lawsuit
While all no-fault injuries will result in a personal injury claim, they don’t all lead to a lawsuit. Usually, the injuries’ severity and the accident’s nature will dictate which choice to pursue. Let’s examine each path.
Filing a Claim
Filing a claim involves working with an insurance company to negotiate a fair settlement. The party at fault will be part of this, and the insurance company will represent them.
The process of filing a claim starts with notifying the insurance company of your injuries and that they resulted from the at-fault party. Time is of the essence here, with some insurance companies requiring a claim to be filed within 24-48 hours of the accident. You must relay the facts accurately, as any intentional misrepresentation may lead to serious legal consequences.
From here, the insurance company with begin an investigation which includes the following:
- Reviewing police reports
- Examining photographic and video evidence
- Looking at medical records
- Estimating the cost of repairs for personal property damage
- Interviewing witnesses
You then write a demand letter stating the facts surrounding the accident, the extent of your injuries and the compensation you are asking for. An adjuster working for the insurance company will examine the investigation results and your demand letter to determine if there is merit to your claim. The insurance company will meet with you to negotiate a settlement, and then you can accept or reject their offer.
All of this can be done on your own, but it is advisable to have legal representation with you. The Whitby personal injury lawyer can better negotiate a fair settlement and represent you in all dealings with the insurance company.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you are being offered a low settlement, presented with no offer, or believe the insurance company is acting in bad faith, you may file a lawsuit. You can also file on your insurance company if your injuries exceed the policy’s limit. Again, you can represent yourself, but this is much more difficult with lots of complicated paperwork. Your lawyer will usually get a settlement that exceeds your expectations and more than covers their cost.
Your lawyer will go on a fact-finding mission, researching and examining all documents and evidence, including your medical records and witness statements. They will then draft a document called the Statement of Claim, which begins the lawsuit, detailing the facts of the accident, your injuries, and the amount being claimed for compensation.
The insurance company, on behalf of the defendant, will respond with a Statement of Reply that details their contentions from your Statement of Defence. Depending on your jurisdiction, mediation may occur where your lawyer and the defendant’s representation get a mediator and are given a mediation brief. You will be required to be at this meeting.
Discovery is next with an exchange of documents that both sides will examine, and then the other will question both teams. A settlement conference takes place before a judge, and then motions can be filed for the court to make decisions before and during the trial. The trial is finally argued in court, in front of a judge and jury and through witness examination and cross-examination, there will be a decision based on the case’s merit.
All this boils down to is working with your lawyer and the defendant’s insurance company to provide you with fair compensation for your injuries, and it shouldn’t be as drawn out as it sometimes gets. Nobody wins in this situation, but that is why we have insurance in the first place.
The most important thing you can do when suffering a personal injury is to consult a lawyer because they are there to take care of you and work hard to get you the best settlement they can. Understanding the steps in a personal injury claim will empower you to stand up for yourself and your health as you pursue a life beyond your accident.