The court system is very procedural: there are rules that need to be followed, and deadlines that must be adhered to. Different legal actions have different rules; different courts have different rules, and different fields of law have different processes. When you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, there are certain steps you will need to take in order to be successful in your claim. This week we provide an overview of what is required for a motor vehicle accident claim, how long these claims may take, and what your expectations should be before pursuing such a claim.
Timeline – How Long do These Claims Take?
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is important to take time to recover and get the right treatment. A legal claim can wait, you have 2 years from the time of the incident to file a claim, so there is no immediate rush. What is most important is your health and well-being. See your doctor, and figure out a treatment plan. This often includes physiotherapy, chiropractor, or massage therapy.
Every claim will have a different timeline, and many situation-specific factors will affect each claim. One thing that is certain, however, is that personal injury claims take time, regardless of how straightforward the facts may be. There are many documents and pieces of evidence that need to be collected but are not necessarily readily available. For example: if you are getting physiotherapy for your injuries, your lawyer will require your medical records, as well as a record from your physiotherapist. Recovery also varies from person to person and will depend on the type of injury you have sustained.
Before a fair assessment can be made of what compensation will be appropriate in your circumstances, you need to have completely healed from your injuries or at least be in a position where treatment is no longer necessary. So, in some cases, this could take months, if not years. As long as you get the claim started before the 2-year anniversary since the accident, the recovery time is not an issue.
To ensure that there are no issues with your claim, it is important to determine what the correct protocols for treatment are. You can get this information from your insurance company, your doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist.
Overall, there is no real timeline for these claims. They are truly dependent on the circumstances of each claim. Some insurance companies handle claims in a more streamlined manner, while others can drag out the process. Regardless, it is important to keep record of all your interactions with your insurance company, with your doctors, and other medical professionals, and be proactive about your recovery. Good record keeping can make claims much easier and the process smoother.
What Amount of Money You Can Expect from Your Claim
Will your matter go to court? Potentially. Most personal injury claims are settled out of court. However, to get a more favourable settlement, a claim may need to go to trial. Will you get a massive settlement by doing so? Likely not. What we mean is that in Canada you will not see million-dollar settlements for every personal injury claim. Advertisements, where lawyers boast about million dollar settlements, are generally from the U.S. where such claims are common and where the legal system is \very different from ours.
In Canada, the typical award for an injury arising from a motor vehicle accident is for loss of income (i.e. damages to compensate for the fact that you unable to work while you recovered, if applicable) and pain and suffering damages (also known as general damages). If you suffered only minor injuries, then there is a limit on the amount you can claim under this set of damages, and in Alberta, that limit is $4,000.
The Supreme Court of Canada has set a limit on compensation for pain and suffering at $370,000. This cap was set in a case where the claimant was a young, healthy and active person, who ended up quadriplegic and brain-damaged. This means that this cap is meant for the most serious injuries.
These limits set by the Supreme Court and by the Provinces do not determine the compensations you can get. You can still be awarded costs for things like loss of income, loss of earning capacity (depending on how serious the injury was, you may be limited in your future work capabilities), and cost of future care. A motor vehicle accident claim will, therefore, differ depending on what impact the injuries have had on your life.
Consult with a Knowledgeable Personal Injury Lawyer
Having an experienced and compassionate personal injury lawyer will help you ensure that you get the best settlement possible. While it is possible to file a claim through your insurance company, their goal is to deal with the matter as quickly as possible, and pay out as little as they can. The steps for a successful motor vehicle accident claim can very well take a long time, and given how insurance companies often handle these claims, they may not be your best route. Speaking with a lawyer after your accident will help you understand your options, including whether filing a legal claim makes sense, and will help determine what direction you end up taking.
The personal injury lawyers at HMC Lawyers have the experience and compassion to get you the fairest settlement for the injuries you have sustained. Our lawyers have years of success inside and outside the courtroom, negotiating or arguing fair settlements for our clients. To speak to one of our lawyers, call 1-800-480-3534 or contact us online. We represent injured clients in Calgary and throughout Alberta.