Car Accident Basics

Each year in Ontario, thousands of people are seriously injured in car accidents. The aftermath of a car accident can disrupt a person’s life for many years.

Crucial Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Failing to Report the Accident
  2. Failing to Collect Evidence
  3. Not Seeking Medical Treatment
  4. Admitting Fault

Common Car Accident Injuries

Injuries commonly associated with such accidents include: 

  • neck injury (whiplash)
  • broken bones
  • soft tissue injuries
  • back and spinal cord injuries
  • head injuries 
  • scarring 
  • amputation
  • anxiety and depression

Statistics on Motor Vehicle Collisions in Canada

Source: Transport Canada’s National Collision Database (NCDB) (Link)

  • In 2018, the number of motor vehicle fatalities was 1,922; up 3.6% from 2017 (1,856).
  • The number of serious injuries decreased to 9,494 in 2018; down 6.1% from 2017 (10,107).
  • The number of fatalities per 100,000 population increased slightly to 5.2 in 2018 (from 5.0 in 2017), yet is still the second lowest on record.
  • The number of fatalities per billion vehicle kilometres travelled slightly increased to 4.9 in 2018 (from 4.8 in 2017); also the second lowest recorded

What to do in the event of an accident or collision?

  1. Do not move the vehicles
  2. Ensure everyone’s safety or wait for first responders
  3. Call the police
  4. Do not admit fault
  5. Exchange insurance policy
  6. Take photos
  7. Reporting collisions to the Collision Reporting Centre

Car Accident Compensation

In Ontario there are various potential sources of compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident.

Statutory Accidents Benefits

Statutory Accidents Benefits are available through your own automobile insurer and may provide compensation for income loss, medical and rehabilitation expenses, housekeeping expenses, attendant care expenses, as well as caregiver and non-earner benefits. In fatal accidents, benefits may also be available for funeral expenses and a death benefit. 

Statutory Accidents Benefits are available to you regardless of who was at fault for the car accident.

Tort Claims

In situations where the negligent actions of another person caused or contributed to the car accident, you may also have a claim against the at-fault person or persons. A claim against an at-fault person is known as a tort claim. 

A tort claim can provide compensation for: 

  • pain and suffering
  • loss of enjoyment of life
  • income loss
  • economic compromise
  • medical and rehabilitation expenses 
  • housekeeping 
  • home maintenance expenses. 

Family Law Act Claim

Family members of persons injured in car accidents may also have a Family Law Act claim against the at-fault person which can provide compensation for: 

  • loss of care, guidance and companionship, 
  • reimbursement for actual expenses reasonably incurred for the benefit of the person injured in the accident, 
  • an allowance for travel expenses actually incurred in visiting the injured person during his or her treatment or recovery
  • situations where the family member has provided the injured person nursing, housekeeping
  • income lost or 
  • loss of value of services provided.
  • In fatal accidents, reimbursement for funeral expenses is also available.

FAQs: Ask Windsor Car Accident Lawyer Mike Drake

Mike Drake has worked with Chodola Reynolds Binder since 1999 and has been a Partner since 2005. His practice includes assisting injured victims and their families from car accidents, slip and falls, product defects, wrongful death, pedestrian accidents and occupier’s negligence.

What is the No Fault System for a Car Accident in Ontario?

Ontario operates under a “No Fault” Insurance system for car accidents. 

This means that when you have been injured as a result of an accident you file the claim to obtain accident benefits with your own insurance company regardless of whether you or the other driver was at fault. 

Your own insurer will then be in contact with you to provide the required paperwork to be completed that includes:

  • An Application Form
  • Disability Certificate
  • Employer’ Confirmation of Income
  • And potential more

Can I sue the other driver if I am injured in a motor vehicle accident?

A Claim may be advanced in cases where the accident is the fault of someone other than the injured person. An injured person may be able to sue the responsible party for financial losses for not being able to work along with non-pecuniary losses for the loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering.

See also: What is the “Injury Threshold” in Ontario, Canada? (Link)

Do Passengers Have a Claim in an MVA?

Passengers are entitled to a claim if injured in an accident. A Passenger is able to claim against the at fault driver or a claim if their own driver is to be determined to be at fault. The driver’s insurance company will then respond in order to deal with the Claim.

A Passenger is able to make a Claim for Accident Benefits with an Application which results in the possibility of an Income Replacement Benefit or Non Earner Benefit to be paid if eligible. The Passenger is also able to obtain therapy benefits as may be reasonable and necessary in order to assist with recovery.

Is it worth getting a car accident lawyer?

It is worth consulting with a car accident letter to assess whether or not you have a valid legal claim to advance to your own Insurer for  Accident Benefits or to the at fault driver/insurance in tort. There is no fee for the consultation so you do not have to pay anything out of pocket. The advice is free and based on our initial meeting, the team at CRB Law would be able to inform you as to the benefits to proceed forward on your claim arising from your injuries arising from  the collision.

Is there a monthly retainer? Or is the fee a percentage?

There is no monthly retainer that you are required to pay. In most cases, there are no fees or expenses to be paid unless and until your Claim is settled in or outside of the Court System.  In order to ensure that you are fairly compensated we do not require a financial retainer that you are not able to afford. The details of how we are compensated for our work is set out clearly for you in a document called a Contingency Fee Retainer Agreement. 

In general, we are paid as a percentage of the total amount that is paid by the Insurer to compensate you for the damages that you have suffered.  This amount is fully disclosed and agreement upon by the Contingency Fee Retainer Agreement before your case is started in the litigation process. 

When should I hire a car accident lawyer?

It is never too early to consult a lawyer after you have been involved in a car accident.  There are required time limits (see next question), so time is always a factor.

When we meet with you, we will look at your Claim and decide whether it is a good time or not to proceed ahead. There is no fee that is charged for our initial consultation and we will make sure we have all the facts first before we move ahead and take any steps on your behalf. 

Is there a time limit on car accident claims?

There are required time limits to provide a notice to your own Insurer and to the at fault driver that are set out in the regulations that guide commencement of actions in Ontario. 

There is a limitation period in Ontario for when claims have to be started against the at fault driver and /or your own Insurance. The general limitation period runs for a period of 2 years following the time of the accident. Having said that, you may still have a valid claim outside of the 2 year window from the time of the accident if you are able to show that you were not aware that the nature of your injury was going to be permanent and ongoing until after this date. This may be triggered by you finding out a permanent injury through a doctor’s visit, MRI or Cat Scan result  from the finding of a specialist that your injury from the accident will be permanent in nature. This may be after the 2 year mark from the accident but your Claim may still be well within the time to start a Court Action.

It is important to consult with a Lawyer to determine if you qualify for a valid Claim to be commenced as soon as you are aware of the fact that the accident has resulted in a significant impairment to you , your friend or a  family member. 

Should I hire a car accident lawyer for a minor accident?

There is no case law in Ontario that compensates an injured person based on how severe the collision was. Whether you have a minor or major car accident, it is important to consult with a lawyer. A minor accident may result in significant injuries. A major accident may not result in significant injuries. Each situation and each injured person is unique in this regard. It is worth it to contact a lawyer to see if you have a Claim. You have nothing to lose financially and it will provide the peace of mind for you to assess whether or not a Claim would be able to be advanced. 

Your own automobile insurer may categorize your injury as “minor” and fall under what is called the “minor injury guidelines “ – MIG for short. A “minor” injury may or not be minor in the realm of whether or not to retain a Lawyer. The Insurer may have made an error in the classification of the nature of your injury. A minor injury may still have a significant impact on the health and well being of your own personal functioning. 

Can I file a claim if I was the cause of an accident, or “at fault”?

An At- Fault injured person is not disqualified from the benefits that they may be entitled to from their own insurance. 

There are 2 possible claims that may arise from your injuries in a car accident. 

  1. The first claim is what is called a tort claim as against the at fault driver. If you are the cause of the accident then you would not have a valid claim in tort. 
  2. The other possible claim that may arise from your injuries in a car accident is a No-Fault Accident Benefits Claim. 

A No-Fault Accident Benefits Claim is to your own automobile insurer if you had insurance at the time of the accident. The issue of the cause of the accident or who is at fault is not one that is  required in this case.  

All injured persons with valid insurance at the time of the accident may advance a claim for losses of income – “Income Replacement Benefit” or the requirement for treatment – “ Medical Rehabilitation Benefits” if they are reasonable and necessary.

How are car accident injury damages calculated?

There are in general 3 types of damages that an injured person from a car accident can advance and claim.

  1. Non-Pecuniary General Damages
  2. Pecuniary General Damages
  3. Special Damages

The first and main category that impacts all injured persons is what is called “Non-Pecuniary General Damages”.  The term “Non-Pecuniary” is a reference to non income related losses for the injured person. This is the legal term that is often commonly referred to as “Pain and Suffering”. 

The valuation of “Non-Pecuniary General Damages” is a factor of several components that include the nature of the injury that was sustained. For example,  did the person suffer from soft tissue injuries to the back and neck, did the person have a broken bone or a torn ligament, did the person suffer a concussion or a brain injury from the impact. All cases and individuals are unique. The experience of the team at CRB Law that has been involved in over 1000 cases would be able to provide an accurate and educated assessment of your value of compensation after a thorough interview and review of your medical records and any reports related to the injuries from your accident. 

The second category of damages is called “Pecuniary General Damages”. The term “Pecuniary” is a reference to income related losses for the injured person. 

The valuation of “Pecuniary Damages” is a factor of several components that involve  the  impact of the accident on the individual’s ability to work. Did the accident result in you being completely off work and not able to return to your job that you would still be working today but for the car accident. Did the accident result in you only partly being able to work? Did the accident result in you having to change your job to a less physically demanding job? 

An impact on your chosen career path can be devastating. An analysis of your situation along with the medical opinion of the treating doctors to provide any medical restrictions for what work you can or can not do is key to determine what your allowed income loss would be and an assessment of your Pecuniary Damages.

The third category is collectively referred to as “Special Damages”. Special damages can include expenses that you have paid to date and not covered by insurance for treatments. It may cover expenses that you had for housekeeping tasks and outside maintenance. It also includes what expenses you may have in the future for your own treatment related to the accident and what expenses you will have. The concept of special damages is to compensate for reimbursement for expenses paid out and to provide you with payment for expenses that you would have down the road. 

At CRB Law, we would be able to provide you with an assessment of your claim and what compensation you would be reasonably awarded after our meeting, interview, review of your medical and income loss documents and any associated reports. 

It is possible to have an idea of “what your claim is worth” at an early stage based on what your claim would be. If it is more complicated and you need to look at income loss, change of job, pension losses, future surgery, treatments then it may be a longer period of months or a year or more based on each person’s individual facts. 

At CRB Law our commitment is to only resolve a Claim when the injured person is aware of the nature of the injuries that they have and the status of the recovery. 

How long does it take to settle a car accident claim in ontario?

There are Claims that can settle within weeks of an accident and others that are more suitable to resolve within years. 

Many Claims do not have to “go to Court” or “sue the other driver”. They are resolved with the Insurance Company before this if the facts are determined and the parties are reasonable. This is often an outcome that is beneficial for both the injured party and the Insurer. 

Claims that do “go to Court” are started by the issuing of a Statement of Claim in the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario. The process can be time consuming but is orderly. The next step after the issuing of a Statement of Claim is the filing of a Statement of Defence. Thereafter, the parties arrange for what is called an Examination for Discovery that allows for both sides to provide evidence to the Claim and the Defence. The Discovery process is typically completed within 6 to 9 months after the receipt of the Statement of Defence. At CRB Law, we are committed to moving your case forward in a time effective manner. Many cases in Ontario are subject to a Mandatory Mediation that takes place typically within 6 months after the date of the completion of the Examination for Discovery. This is a good opportunity for the injured person and the Insurer to meet , come together and obtain a settlement. Many claims through the effectiveness of the mediation process are resolved at this proceeding.  In general, there are no fees to be paid by the injured person through the Mediation Process. 

Cases that are not resolved at the Mediation Session would be subject to moving forward in the Court system with an eventual Pre-Trial Conference before a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice. This is another excellent opportunity for parties to reach a settlement. If a resolution is not made at this proceeding then the Superior Court of Justice would schedule a Trial Date. Each jurisdiction has a differing time frame for a trial date. It can be anywhere from 6 months to up to 2 years after the Pre-Trial for when the matter is scheduled for Trial. This does not mean that your case goes to Trial but only that a date is scheduled. In fact, many cases that are not resolved at the Pre-Trial Conference do resolve thereafter and before a Trial date without the need to litigate in Court. 

Is it better for me to settle “on the spot” if I think the benefits are fair?

It is never a good idea to “settle on the spot” or early on when you do not know how the nature of your injuries may impact you into the future. An early settlement may be devastating to a person that later on needs treatments to  improve or monies because of loss of work. An early settlement results in signing a Full and Final Release to the Insurer which prevents you from making a Claim against the company because the settlement was too low or did not properly compensate you. 

At CRB  Law, our interest  to resolve your Claim if your interest. We never put our own financial interest ahead of our clients. There may be an advantage to resolving a Claim early on and there may be an advantage to waiting until you are fully aware of your injuries and what your reasonable compensation would be. We will guide you through this difficult time and make very complicated issues easy for you to navigate and understand. 

How much should I settle for getting hit by a car?

Just as every injured person is unique with a unique set of facts, every settlement for your injuries in a car accident is different and unique. There is no general “$X” settlement for this type of injury. 

You need the expertise of a lawyer to be able to identify all of the areas of possible compensation for your case and what is a reasonable  assessment for your Claim.

How much money should I expect for pain and suffering from an auto accident?

How much money you should expect for pain and suffering is unique to each individual. For an automobile in the Province in  Ontario, an injury with an assessment for Non-Pecuniary General Damages (as of 2021) that value under the sum of $132,513.28 are subject to what is called the Statutory Deductible. The Statutory Deductible is applied to result in a net value to you for the assessment of Non-Pecuniary General Damages. The Statutory Deductible in 2021 is $39,754.31. This amount is removed from your assessment. You do not pay for it. It is deducted from the total amount to get a net value for what you would receive on a claim for Non-Pecuniary General Damages. 

In addition, the system for car accidents in Ontario has what is called the “Statutory Threshold”. What this means in lay terms is that the nature of your injury has to be one of a type that is serious   and permanent. It could also be a disfigurement. It could also be the death of a loved one or family member. The threshold is the bar level for what claims are to be advanced. Someone who is temporarily injured from an accident for say a few hours or a few days/weeks and fully recovers to do all aspects of how they were before the accident may not have a claim that would meet what is called the “Statutory Threshold”. The team at CRB Law would be able to assess your claim at a free evaluation to assist you to determine whether or not the nature of the injury “meets the threshold”. 

Free Car Accident Case Evaluation

There are time limitations that could prevent you from making a claim. 

To ensure that your rights are protected, you should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following a car accident. 

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Chodola Reynolds Binder stand ready to help you. 

Please call (519) 996‑PAIN to speak directly to an experienced personal injury lawyer with Chodola Reynolds Binder. 

Our lawyers are standing by twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to help you.