Every year, trucking accidents kill close to 200 Ontario residents. Scores more are seriously injured. In many cases, these accidents are caused by:
- – Improper maintenance, putting unsafe vehicles on the road
- – Improper training, putting unqualified/untrained drivers on the road
- – Tired or fatigued drivers
- – Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury in a crash involving a transport truck, semi, dump truck or bus, you need a lawyer who understands the trucking industry and has experience handling complex truck accident cases. I have handled complex trucking cases involving serious injuries and prior to law school, worked at a truck dealership on heavy trucks.
What are No-Fault Benefits, and what do they cover?
If you have been injured in a truck accident, statutory accident benefits, often called no-fault benefits, are available through your own insurer (or one of the other vehicles involved, if you don’t have insurance), regardless of who caused the accident. Accident benefits provide coverage for things like lost wages, broken glasses and extra expenses you may incur, such as medical or rehabilitative treatment. Coverage is also provided for lost educational expenses if you are not able to continue your studies.
Recent changes to the law governing statutory accident benefits have severely limited the amount of money available to cover things like physiotherapy, chiropractic care and massage therapy. In most cases, the amount available to pay for those services is limited to $3,500.00. Unfortunately, if you have sustained serious injuries, that amount is often insufficient to pay for the rehabilitative treatment you need.
For more detailed information on what no-fault benefits may be available to you, see my page on Accident Benefit Claims. If your insurer has denied your claim, call me today for a free, no obligation consultation.
What other Benefits may be available?
Where your injuries are serious, a second type of coverage, at-fault, (legally known as a tort claim), may be available through the other driver’s insurance company.This coverage is available for any economic losses suffered, and provided your injuries are deemed to be serious, as compensation for your injuries themselves. Under Ontario law, injuries may be deemed serious if you have sustained permanent serious disfigurement, or
- You have sustained permanent impairment of a physical, mental or psychological function, and
- The function which is permanently impaired is an important one and
- The impairment of the important function is serious.
Generally, serious injuries include:
- Head injuries (e.g. concussions)
- Brain damage
- Scarring and Disfigurement
- Broken bones
- Certain soft tissue injuries, i.e. whiplash
- Other injuries that have more than a moderate impact upon your lifestyle
In the most severe cases, additional financial assistance may be available to you, including:
- – Canada Pension Plan disability
- – Long term disability insurance
- – Ontario Works
Who may be at-fault for causing a collision?
As the name suggests, at-fault insurance is available only where someone else is responsible for causing the accident. In law, this concept is termed liability. Parties that may be responsible include:
- Other drivers involved in the collision
- Automobile Manufacturers, if a defect in their vehicle caused or contributed to the accident (i.e. defective floor mats)
- Automobile repair shops, if they performed repairs improperly, i.e. put a car on the road without working brakes
- The government, if the road was improperly designed or maintained
What happens if the other driver flees the scene, doesn’t have insurance, or doesn’t have enough insurance?
In Ontario, your automobile policy carries additional coverage to address this situations, which is termed “Uninsured Automobile Coverage” on the standard Ontario Auto Policy. Generally, this is limited to $200,000.00, unless additional coverage had been purchased. Your policy limits for this and other coverages should be listed on your Certificate of Automobile Insurance.
What happens if you’re partially at fault for causing a collision?
For example, if we assume damages of $100.00, and you are half at fault, and someone else is half at fault, you would be entitled to collect at most $50.00 from the responsible party’s insurance company.
How do insurance companies typically respond to claims?
Denial. In many cases, insurance companies vigorously contest liability, as every dollar paid out results in a decrease in profits. In almost every case, insurance companies vigorously contest the amount of damages in an effort to minimize the amount of money they must pay out, as every dollar paid to injured victims leads to a decrease in corporate profits.
What may be required to settle a case with an insurer?
To recover insurance benefits from an at-fault party’s insurer, some or all of the following steps may be necessary:
- Obtain the police report
- Obtain the names of witnesses and interview same
- Hire an accident reconstruction expert
- Take photographs of the scene, damage and injuries
- Obtain medical records and reports
- Obtain expert medical opinions
- Obtain other expert opinions as needed, i.e. financial experts
- Prepare a demand for the insurance company
- Negotiate; and failing that
- Litigate the matter in Court.
The strength and value of your claim will depend upon a number of factors, including the ability to collect the necessary evidence, how much medical treatment you required (and obtained) and the amount of money typically paid for similar injuries in Ontario.
What sort of things can I receive compensation for?
Provided your injuries are deemed serious, as outlined above, damages can be recovered for your injuries themselves, up to a maximum amount of approximately $340,000.00, where quadriplegia results. Additionally, damages can be recovered for lost wages, lost earnings capacity, lost competitive advantage, additional expenses incurred and to be incurred (i.e. medical expenses, extra help around the home etc.). Your family members may also have claims for damages under the Family Law Act, for loss of services and comfort, as well as for additional expenses incurred. Depending upon the severity of injuries, the financial consequences of an accident can be significant.
What dates do you need to be aware of after an auto collision?
You should be aware of the following dates, though a number of exceptions apply.
|Within 7 days of the accident||Inform your insurer|
|Within 30 days of the accident||Apply for accident benefits|
|Within 120 days of the accident||Notify the at-fault driver of your pending claim|
|Within 2 years of the denial of any accident benefits claim||Apply for mediation with FSCO|
|Within 90 days of a failed FSCO mediation||Apply for arbitration or file suit|
|Within 2 years of the date of loss||File suit against the at-fault driver for damages|
Why Michael Lesage?
As owner of Michael’s Law Firm in GTA, I strive to ensure that cases are properly developed. I use my experience in personal injury to ensure the right medical specialists are retained, and to ensure they are asked the right questions, such as, “would my client’s injuries have an impact upon their ability to work, do housework, look after their children” etc. Likewise, I use my experience and economics background to ensure that the necessary financial experts are retained, be they accountants, economists, actuaries or life care planners, so that financial losses can be accurately determined.
If you are suffering from the pain and devastation of a truck accident please call the personal injury lawyers at our law offices in Hamilton and Toronto, ON at 647-495-8995. We will provide a free and confidential case evaluation and may be able to help put your life back on track. There are no fees unless our lawyers win or settle your case.