Car accidents can dramatically change our lives and the lives of our loved ones. The effects of an accident impinge on us physically, emotionally and financially. To make matters worse we are thrust into an ever-changing legal system that has increasingly reduced the insurance coverage available. OHIP and insurance companies cover fewer and fewer therapies and services.
Often the first encounter with the difficulties of the legal and insurance system occurs when help is needed most. Faced with an environment that increasingly favours insurance companies over accident victims, the need for a lawyer who can take charge and simplify the complexities is vital.
At Carranza, we understand the many challenges you face after having an accident. Our response to an insurance company’s impersonal denial of your benefits is clear and direct: your recovery is our first priority. During every meeting, phone call and contact, our mission is to make you feel comfortable, safe and supported.
Symptoms from serious injuries often do not arise or are not typically diagnosed until months or years following your accident. We are with you every step of the way to help you understand what is involved in your recovery and how best to proceed from both a legal and healthcare standpoint. We offer you the benefit of our years of experience working with specialists who will help you and your family through each stage of recovery.
Download and read our handy guide about exactly what you should do immediately after a car accident. (And keep this in your glove box should you ever need it!)
If you're involved in a car accident
What should you do following an accident?
Plan ahead! Download this form to keep in the glove box of your car so you don't have to remember all of this in a stressful and upsetting situation.
Immediately following an accident, make sure you:
- Get, and keep, contact information from parties involved. Write down the names, addresses, phone numbers and insurance information of anyone involved in the accident including witnesses. Make sure the police have this information;
- Contact your family doctor and seek medical treatment immediately. Even if you leave the scene by ambulance, it is vital that you let your family doctor know within 24 hours so they can properly help you;
- Seek legal advice. Contact a personal injury law firm and find out all your options. Always get legal advice prior to making any written or sworn statement to an insurance company;
- Call your insurance company and tell them you were in an accident. Do not speak to any insurance company other than your own. If you do not have insurance, report the accident to the insurance company of the car that hit you;
- Make a claim. Within 30 days of receiving an application for benefits from your insurance company, you must initiate a claim for benefits, either personally or through a law firm;
- Find out about other coverage you may have. If you have medical or disability insurance through your employer, make sure you comply with the time lines for making a claim with that insurance company;
- Keep detailed records. No one has a perfect memory – least of all after a collision. Record the names of the medical/health professionals who treat you, keep all receipts of any expenses related to your accident and make notes of all your health problems following the accident.
How we can help
Families are often surprised and overwhelmed by how much an injury can impact their lives and their financial situation. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand your current situation better and explain your legal entitlements.
Our involvement begins the moment we meet you. We start to work immediately to maximize your personal recovery by ensuring you get the treatment and assistance you require to return to as many social, family, and leisure activities as soon as possible. At the same time, we gather evidence to quantify every aspect of your losses to maximize your financial recovery.
After an accident, we will:
- Meet with you to understand your life situation, the accident, and your injuries;
- Assist you while you are in the hospital, arranging for parking passes and food vouchers for your family and ensuring a TV and phone are available for the duration of your stay;
- Assist in bringing immediate family to visit you – even from outside Canada;
- Determine which insurance company is responsible for paying your accident benefits;
- Complete your accident benefits claims forms, explain the process, and follow up with the insurance company to ensure your benefits are paid as quickly as possible;
- Open claims for any of your immediate family members who need treatment even though they were not in the accident—this protects your medical rehab limits;
- Obtain police records about the accident and, if necessary, seek out and interview witnesses;
- Put the at-fault party on notice that a lawsuit is likely.
Your options for compensation
If you are involved in a vehicle accident there is help available.
You are entitled to:
- Accident benefits: Whether or not you were at fault for the accident, all Ontario auto insurance policies provide compulsory benefits outlined in the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS). Your family members and dependents may also be entitled to some benefits even though they were not involved in the accident. Accident Benefits can be claimed no matter what your legal residence status is in this country.
- Disability insurance: Short-term or long-term disability benefits available from your job or a private policy must be applied for immediately. These benefits are always primary. Your car insurance will only cover what your private disability policy will not cover.
In addition to the accident benefits claim, you may also sue the person or people responsible for the accident. This type of claim (also called a tort claim) seeks compensation for:
- Pain and suffering;
- Economic losses (e.g. present and future income losses);
- Loss of earning capacity;
- The cost of future medical treatment and care;
- The cost of future attendant care;
- The cost of housekeeping and care giving needs;
- Out of pocket expenses;
- Loss of shared family income;
- Loss of care, guidance and companionship suffered by your immediate family;
- Economic losses of family members incurred due to the accident.
With significant changes made to the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule as of June 1st, 2016, it is imperative that you consult one of our lawyers to find out what you may be entitled to.
Please see Your compensation for more information.
Insurance companies will generally only pay for any treatment or expense after you apply for the corresponding benefit, so it is important that you apply for all the benefits you will need as soon as possible. Strict time limits apply. We will meet these deadlines for you, so you can focus on your recovery.
Some of the key limits to keep in mind:
- 7 Days – you must inform the Accident Benefits insurance company of the accident and that you were hurt;
- 30 Days – you must complete and send the Accident Benefits application within 30 days of it being provided to you by the insurance company. If you take longer, the insurance company can delay your benefits 45 days and may be able to deny you benefits altogether;
- 120 Days – you need to give written notice of your intention to sue the at-fault parties;
- 2 Years – to commence a lawsuit against an at-fault driver or your own insurance company if your benefits are denied.
You must provide the insurance company all the information it needs to determine your entitlement. You have 10 business days after it requests such information to provide it, or it can suspend or deny your benefits.
This website is meant as a general reference for injured persons and their families. The medical and legal information contained in this manual is not intended to offer legal or medical advice. The content of this website is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the professional judgment of a legal and/or healthcare professional, and you should not rely upon any material or statements made on this website for legal or medical advice. It is not intended to create a solicitor-client relationship.
It is recommended that you review any medical information carefully with your doctor or healthcare professional before making any decisions regarding your health or recommended medical treatment. While reasonable attempts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this website, our firm cannot make express or implied representations or warranties about the accuracy or completeness of the information. Each person's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Please contact an Ontario Personal Injury lawyer for a consultation on your particular personal injury matter.
The following websites are sources of valuable information and support for those who have been injured in a motor vehicle accident: