Car Accidents - FAQs

1. What should I do immediately following a car accident?
2. How much will I have to pay for you to handle my case?
3. What am I entitled to recover after involving in a motor vehicle accident?
4. How long will my case take?
5. What will it cost me to pursue a personal injury lawsuit?
6. How do I select the right lawyer for my particular claim and circumstances?
7. Should I take the settlement my insurance company is offering me?
8. I did not feel pain at the scene and refused medical treatment. Now, a few days later I am in pain. What should I do?
9. What is negligence?
10. Should I contest an accident-related traffic citation?
11. What if the driver was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident? Can damages be recovered?
12. My son was rear-ended and the other driver claimed my son caused the accident. How does the law decide who is being rear-ended?
13. What happens if I'm sued for causing an auto accident and I don't have insurance?
14. If I'm involved in an accident, do I have to tell the insurance company about it right away or can I try to handle it on my own?
15. I loaned my car to a friend who was involved in an accident. Am I liable if my friend was at fault?
16. Can a spouse recover damages for injuries caused by the other spouse?
17. Can a passenger in the car recover for injuries caused by the driver?
18. My seat belt was unbuckled when the driver of the car I was riding in caused an accident. I was injured. Can I sue the driver for damages?
19. What is uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage?
20. What is the purpose of obtaining uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits?


1. What should I do immediately following a car accident?

If you are not severely injured, collect all pertinent information from the other drivers — driver's license numbers, address, telephone numbers, insurance card information, etc. Keep a daily journal beginning with the date of the accident to document all physical and mental injuries, as well as document your view of the accident. Notify the arriving police officer of the events of the accident that you can recall. Report the accident to your insurance company; however, it is advisable to consult a personal injury lawyer in order to understand your rights and benefits available to you prior to making a call to the insurance company.


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2. How much will I have to pay for you to handle my case?

You do not need to pay any fee upfront. Our fee is on a contingency basis. That is, the lawyer will receive his or her fee as a percentage of the settlement he is able to secure for you. Should the lawyer not be able to secure a settlement, the lawyer receives nothing and you owe the lawyer nothing. In another words, under contingency fee arrangement, the fee is only payable if your lawyer has recovered money for your injuries and the money is in fact in your hand.


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3. What am I entitled to recover after being involved in a motor vehicle accident?

When a person is involved in a motor vehicle accident, he or she may be entitled to a number of different types of damages under Ontario law. He or she is entitled to claim certain benefits from his own insurance company under accident benefit provision of your policy, including but not limited to: a) income replacement benefits; b) care-giving benefits; c) nonearner benefits; d) housekeeping benefits; e) attendant care benefit (for your own personal care); f) medical and rehabilitation benefits. In addition, you may also be entitled to recover money under the tort claim, commonly known as pain and suffering claim, under which you may be entitled to claim for the loss of income, loss of earning capacity, loss of competitive advantage and general damages for the pain and suffering. Your family may also be entitled to claim certain benefits under both accident benefit and tort claim.


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4. How long will my case take?

As you may aware that when you involved in a motor vehicle accident, you have two possible claims: 1) accident benefit claim; and 2) tort claim, i.e., claim against the negligent driver or owner of the negligent driver's vehicle.

Accident benefit claim usually takes 1-2 years to settle while you may continue to get accident benefits from your insurance company. Of course, each case is different, and a slow insurance company or unmotivated insurance adjuster can lengthen the process considerably. Of course, some cases do not result in a settlement agreement, usually because of an unreasonable insurance company or adjuster. In such cases, the disputes between parties are mediated through a mediator appointed by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO). If the dispute is not resolved in that forum, we talk with the client about the possibility of filing a lawsuit or an arbitration application. In every case, however, we attempt to resolve the client's claim as efficiently as possible.

The tort claim usually takes longer as it involves suing the negligent driver and the owner of the vehicle to recover your damages.


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5. What will it cost me to pursue a personal injury lawsuit?

It will probably cost you nothing! If you have a claim that appears to be valid, you should be able to find a personal injury lawyer who will represent you on a contingent basis. That is, the lawyer will receive his or her fee as a percentage of the settlement he is able to secure for you. Should the lawyer not be able to secure a settlement, the lawyer receives nothing and you owe the lawyer nothing.


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6. How do I select the right lawyer for my particular claim and circumstances?

Look for a lawyer who has tried and won cases similar to yours, in which you have a high degree of confidence, and whom you believe understands your needs and can communicate effectively with you as your case progresses through the legal system.


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7. Should I take the settlement my insurance company is offering me?

You should not take any settlements offered by an insurance company without first speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Insurance companies typically offer a minimal amount of money in return for your signature stating that you will not sue them. Never take an insurance check without first consulting a lawyer.


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8. I did not feel pain at the scene and refused medical treatment. Now, a few days later I am in pain. What should I do?

You should immediately consult your medical provider regarding any pain, discomfort or possible injuries from a car accident, even if you think they may be only minor injuries. Even if you did not complain of injuries at the scene of the car accident, you may be entitled to payment of your medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of earnings capacity and emotional distress due to personal injuries. You should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss whether you need representation on your claim.


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9. What is negligence?

Negligence is the failure of the person to act as a reasonably prudent person would act under like or similar circumstances.


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10. Should I contest an accident-related traffic citation?

DO NOT PAY the fine for the traffic ticket if you strongly feel that you were not at fault for the accident and the police officer has still charged you for the accident or other traffic violation. This may have significant effect on your insurance and your injury claim. You should seek to contest the traffic ticket and see a lawyer.


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11. What if the driver was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident? Can damages be recovered?

The injured person who was not wearing a seat belt may be partly liable for the injuries. However, Ontario law does not bar a victim's right to compensation just because they were not wearing a seat belt.


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12. My son was rear-ended and the other driver claimed my son caused the accident. How does the law decide who is being rear-ended?

A rear collision is where one vehicle collides into the rear of another. Typically the person who hits the vehicle in the rear is at fault, However, a vehicle that is rear-ended may still be responsible for the accident. If the person stopped suddenly or had improperly working brake lights or turn signals, he or she could be held responsible or partially responsible for the accident.


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13. What happens if I'm sued for causing an auto accident and I don't have insurance?

If you are the cause of an accident and are sued, if you have insurance your insurance company will provide a defense for you at no extra expense and will pay any judgment the injured may obtained from the court. However, if you have no insurance you could be personally responsible for any damages owed to the injured person. In addition, your driver's license could be revoked for being uninsured.


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14. If I'm involved in an accident, do I have to tell the insurance company about it right away or can I try to handle it on my own?

Your insurance contract requires you to report an accident immediately to them. Failure to comply with the terms of your insurance policy could result in a denial of coverage. It is usually best to speak to a personal injury lawyer to know your rights as an injured person rather than try to handle the case yourself. Once you have spoken to a lawyer, you should immediately notify your insurance company.


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15. I loaned my car to a friend who was involved in an accident. Am I liable if my friend was at fault?

If someone else is driving your vehicle, as long as that person had your expressed or implied permission your insurance coverage will cover the accident. You could be held liable for the accident along with your friend if your friend was operating the vehicle for your benefit or you negligently entrusted the vehicle to your friend.


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16. Can a spouse recover damages for injuries caused by the other spouse?

If one spouse causes the accident, you can seek recovery for your injuries from your spouse. Ultimately, it is your spouse's insurance company that has to compensate for your injuries.


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17. Can a passenger in the car recover for injuries caused by the driver?

If the driver was negligent in the accident, then usually a passenger can recover from the driver for injuries the passenger sustained. However, if the passenger contributed to the accident in any way, he could be barred from recovery. For instances if the driver was drunk and the passenger knew or should have known, the passenger would be considered contributory negligent and would be barred from recovering from the driver or the driver's insurance.


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18. My seat belt was unbuckled when the driver of the car I was riding in caused an accident. I was injured. Can I sue the driver for damages?

Yes, you can still sue for damages even if you were not wearing your seat belt at the time of an accident, however, you may be held contributory negligent for the injuries you have sustained. The amount of damages may be reduced to the level of your contribution to the injuries as a result of unbuckling the seat belt.


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19. What is uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage?

Uninsured motorist coverage covers damages an individual suffers as a result of a motorist who fails to carry the required insurance on his or her vehicle. Underinsured motorist coverage covers a person for damages whose injury claim value exceeds the insurance coverage the at-fault owner or driver carried.


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20. What is the purpose of obtaining uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits?

Having uninsured motorist coverage's protects you from the irresponsible driver who drives without insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage helps protect you when you have serious and significant injuries. When buying an auto insurance policy, please make sure that your policy contains uninsured or underinsured coverage.


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