If you think you may have a claim for a personal injury from a car accident or other accident, the information out there on where to start can be confusing and overwhelming. Take a look at this short overview to get a better idea, and reach out to one of our civil litigation lawyers if you think you may have a claim.
In Ontario, a plaintiff/claimant must meet a certain threshold (ie a minimum) to begin a personal injury claim due to car accidents. The accident must have caused permanent serious disfigurement and/or a permanent serious impairment of an important physical, mental, or psychological function. Medical reports and evidence demonstrate whether an injury meets that threshold.
If you think you may have a personal injury claim, think about doing the following:
- Get a medical assessment of your injuries, including the time it will take for treatment. Don’t forget things such as physiotherapy, counselling, etc…
- Speak to a personal injury lawyer. Many personal injury lawyers use contingency fee arrangements, meaning the lawyer will take a percentage of your settlement should you receive money. You won’t be paying as much in fees as you normally would since your lawyer will take their fees out of any money you are awarded.
- Don’t wait too long! There are time limits to how long you can lay a claim after your accident, and waiting can also make it harder to assess your injuries from the accident.
Now when it comes to determining how much you should be compensated for your claims (ie through damages), the law in Ontario splits damages into different categories (which lawyers sometimes call “heads” of damages):
General or “Non-pecuniary” (ie non-economic) Damages
These types of damages are meant to compensate for what you lost due to your injuries in the accident. These damages are usually hard to quantify (as in, it’s hard to determine a precise dollar amount). Under this head of damages you may see damages for:
- Pain and suffering (which has a maximum amount, currently set close to $400,000),
- Physical disfigurement,
- Mental anguish,
- General loss of enjoyment in life.
In determining how much to compensate, Courts will look at factors such the plaintiff’s age, the type of injury, the pain it causes, the loss of family or relationships, and the loss of lifestyle. Documenting the way your injury has impacted your life can help your lawyer better advocate for you.
Also take note that Ontario has a deductible on non-pecuniary damages if the award is less than a certain amount. This means that if you are given an award for damages, the award will be reduced by the deductible if the award falls below a certain limit (right now the limit sits around $132,000, and the deductible is about $40,000, and this changes every year). For example, if you get an award in non-pecuniary damages of $60,000, the deductible applies and you are left with $20,000 in general damages. If your non-pecunairy award is above $132,000, the deductible does not apply and you can keep the full amount.
Special or “Pecuniary” (ie economic) Damages
These damages are quantifiable and more straightfoward to determine. They are meant to compensate you for what you lost in the injury and the treatment of the injury. They may include:
- Costs to repair or replace lost/damaged property
- Loss of income (ie if you had to take time off to recover from your injury)
- Loss of future income and earning capacity (ie if your injuries prevent you from working like you did before the accident)
- Medical and rehabilitation expenses
Clear as mud? For more information, or to talk to a lawyer about the possibility of a successful claim, get in touch with us today.