If you are hurt in a car accident caused by the negligence of a driver, the following questions and answers provide useful information to obtain compensation and care for your injury.
This general information is not legal advice. If you have specific questions about your case, please contact Geoff Aylward, personal injury lawyer in Newfoundland and Labrador.
1. How do my own insurance coverages protect me?
Your insurance company may provide essential protection if you have the right coverage. This protection steps in where the other insurance does not. Your coverage should include:
Accident benefits: This coverage applies as soon as the accident happens and does not depend on who is at fault. It looks after treatment expense for medication and therapy that is not covered under other insurance. This coverage also provides a modest allowance for lost income and is known as Section B.
Family endorsement benefit: This coverage applies if your claim is higher than the amount of insurance carried by the other vehicle.
Liability limit: You should carry a high insurance liability limit of $1,000,000 or more to protect yourself from the worry of a high claim if you are at fault in an accident. The large added benefit is that your limit protects you if you also have the Family Endorsement coverage. The other driver may not have any insurance or may have the bare legal minimum of $200,000. If your claims are greater than the coverage on the other vehicle, your coverage is to the limit of your own policy and you need not be concerned by the lower limit of the other driver.
Disability and creditor insurance: These forms of insurance may be available through your work or lender. These insurance coverages are very important if you are unable to work after a car accident.
2. What if I am in a car accident and may be injured?
If anyone has suffered a serious injury, 911 should be called. The full response team could be police to control traffic and investigate, a fire truck for emergency extraction, an ambulance, and a tow truck. If you are advised to go to the hospital by ambulance, follow this advice.
- The law requires that drivers exchange information if there is an accident. It is an offence for either driver to leave the scene of an accident to escape a claim.
- Drivers are required to exchange basic important information. Obtain the name and address of the owner and the licence plate of the other car. You will find this information on the vehicle registration. Check it against the licence plate. Obtain the name and address of the driver. You can write down this information from the driver's licence. Ask for the phone number for the driver and owner. Write down the insurance information for the other vehicle including the broker or insurer and policy number and the name of all insured persons. Photograph the registration, plate number, driver's licence and policy as a back-up record.
- You may or may not feel a bit shaken up at the scene of the accident. A day or two may go by before you feel hurt and sore. You will still need the information about the other vehicle, driver and owner, to protect your claim in case this happens. Play it safe - get the information even if you are not aware of injury or damage to your vehicle.
- Do not say anything about fault at the scene of the accident except to the police officer and other first responders. Do not make any statement to the other driver that suggests the accident was minor or had no physical effect on you.
- If the police attend the scene of the accident, the police officers will generally obtain this information. Check to be sure that this has been done. The police officer should pass you a card with a police file number and sufficient handwritten accident details so you do not have to record the information yourself.
- Ask for any witnesses for their names and phone numbers. Take photographs of the scene, including the positions and location of vehicles and area of debris on the road before the vehicles are moved.
NOTE: At all times you should keep a pen or pencil and paper in your car. It helps if you carry your cellphone. The vehicle registration and insurance must be in the vehicle. You must carry your driver's licence when driving.
3. When do I see a doctor?
If you feel the effects of an accident, you should report to the emergency room, your family doctor or a walk-in clinic. If you cannot get into see your doctor, schedule the next available appointment if you can be seen within a reasonable period of time.
Medical assessment of a real injury is important. If you shake off your injury hoping it will go away, you will lose the benefit of early medical assistance and may not get full insurance compensation. The insurer will need to know that you were injured, the type and seriousness of the injuries, that those injuries were caused by the accident and that you are getting the help you need. Those questions are best answered the earlier you are seen by a doctor.
4. When do I contact the vehicle insurer?
Contact the insurer of your vehicle immediately to report the accident and advise that either you or one or more persons in your vehicle may have been injured. This is a first step in ensuring Section B insurance coverage for treatment and partial coverage for lost earnings.
If you were in a vehicle which did not have Section B coverage, you may be able to obtain this same protection under your own car insurance policy or the car insurance policy of a family member. Geoff Aylward, as an experienced injury lawyer, can assist you to ensure that all of the forms are properly completed and submitted to the insurance company so this coverage is put in place at the beginning.
5. Do I have to make a police report?
The drivers must report an accident to the police within 24 hours if there is an injury or car damage. This requirement does not apply if the police have attended and taken the information from the drivers at the scene.
6. When do I contact a personal injury lawyer?
Experienced personal injury lawyer Geoff Aylward is available to his clients when they need him. For that reason, he checks and responds to after-hours emails and texts where urgent advice is required.
The best time to contact a lawyer is as soon as you can after the accident has occurred. You are entitled to know your rights and to be properly represented from the very beginning. Having experienced injury lawyer Geoff Aylward with you from the ground floor puts your claim on a solid footing. You can focus on getting better while he looks after the insurance and injury compensation issues.
7. What if the other insurance company calls me?
Tell the insurer that you will be represented by a lawyer. Ask for the caller's name, phone number, the name of the insurance company, the insured person, and the claim number. Do not provide any other information especially about how the accident happened, injury and work status until you are represented by an experienced personal injury lawyer like Geoff Aylward.
8. What are my rights as a passenger?
A passenger is nearly always entitled to obtain compensation. In a two-car collision, one driver or the other will almost always be at fault for the accident. In a single car accident, the driver will often be at fault. A passenger should not drive with an unsafe driver. If you had reason to expect the driver was intoxicated, your claim may be reduced.
9. What are my rights if the other driver did not have insurance or left the scene of the accident?
You may be able to seek compensation under your own Automobile Insurance Policy or that of a family member. If your Policy does not apply or you do not own a vehicle you can seek compensation against the Judgment Recovery Fund. Special procedures apply in these cases. It is urgent that you contact the police within 24 hours if the other driver left the scene of the accident without providing the required information. There are other strict rules, procedures and time limits that may apply. You should immediately contact an experienced injury lawyer like Geoff Aylward if the other driver left the scene or you suspect you were provided incorrect information or that there was no insurance coverage. If the proper steps are not taken on time, your right to compensation might suffer or be lost. This is one reason experienced personal injury lawyer Geoff Aylward can be contacted after hours.
10. What information is needed to make the insurance claim?
At the time of your initial consultation, you and your experienced injury lawyer Geoff Aylward starts the process of obtaining information. This includes, as necessary:
- Accident details, including vehicle damage and accident reconstruction
- Police file
- Exchange of information with insurer
- To the extent relevant, prior health, employment, and education records
- Supporting evidence of ongoing future medical treatment by your doctor, specialists, and therapists
- Expert evidence on how your ability to work or perform other activities has been affected
- Actuarial evidence to determine value of loss of future income and future expenses
- Documentation of expenses related to the accident including recovery of property damage for replacement or repair of your vehicle (if applicable)
- Keeping track of receipts for expenses that are not routinely recorded
- Compelling other insurers to disclose information through the commencement of legal proceedings and discoveries.
Gathering all this information and keeping it organized is a serious project on its own. The more evidence you obtain, the better your chances of a settlement that fully matches the benefits you deserve. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows what kinds of evidence is needed and how to organize that evidence in the most persuasive form. Lawyer Geoff Aylward has been successfully filing and representing insurance claims and disputes for years. He knows how to obtain and present this information backed with the right arguments to obtain fair compensation.
11. What compensation is covered by my personal injury claim?
Compensation is paid for pain and suffering, loss of past and future income, assistance with household tasks and expenses. Claims for this compensation are backed by the necessary documents, any applicable legal processes and settlement discussions.
If some of these losses have been covered by your own insurer, to that extent the compensation for those losses will be paid to your insurer.
12. What happens if the other driver says I caused the accident?
Insurers rarely make formal admissions of liability. You have to be prepared for the possibility that fault may be contested. There are other cases where responsibility for the accident is not clear. This is one of the reasons you need an experienced injury lawyer like Geoff Aylward at your side at the beginning of your claim.
Fault is determined after reviewing all of the evidence, the rules of the road, case law, and the facts with most emphasis on the specific circumstances of the accident. Initially, fault may not be obvious. Details matter. An experienced personal injury lawyer will advance your claim as effectively as the facts and law allow.
13. What if the insurance company makes me a direct offer?
An insurance company will only make a direct offer based on its best interests and bottom line. In very minor cases, it may offer a reasonable payout of the claim. The pitfall is that the insurer will only do this after it has obtained a statement from you directly. An experienced personal injury lawyer will usually advise against doing so in case your injury turns out to be more serious.
The insurer will sometimes recognize that something has to be paid and simply wants to avoid the claim handling expenses. In those cases, a direct settlement may be reasonable. You should be certain that your injury is very minor in such cases and that you have had only a brief effect from the injury with no real limitations on work or any of your activities. Your doctor is the best person to provide you with this assurance. If there is any doubt about an offer made on the basis that the injury is trivial, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who will quickly tell you for a minimal or no fee whether legal services are required or not.
You certainly do not have to accept a settlement offer within any artificial deadlines imposed by the insurer. The insurance adjuster is not acting in your interests in saying that the offer is fair or better than you would get after hiring a lawyer. The insurance adjuster protects the insurer, not you.
14. How do I pay my bills if I cannot work?
Insurers will take advantage of immediate financial pressures to force injured persons to take unfair settlements. An unfair settlement will not take into account the need to be able to look after bills in one or two years time.
There is a 17-week employment insurance benefit. If accident benefits apply, a modest amount of up to $140 per week will be paid. If applicable, short-term disability and long-term disability and creditor insurance will relieve some of the financial pressures. Advances may be available through third-party lenders to provide some financial assistance. In compelling cases, the other insurer may be persuaded or ordered to make an interim payment.
Some employers will cooperate in an ease-back or assign lighter duties during the period of recovery.
15. How long do I have to file a motor vehicle accident claim in Newfoundland and Labrador?
A statement of claim against the driver and the owner of the vehicle at fault must be issued within two years from the date of the accident. Much shorter time limits can apply for other coverages. For this reason alone you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to ensure that your claim meets all time limit requirements.
Comprehensive, Resourceful Personal Injury Legal Representation in Newfoundland and Labrador
Geoff Aylward, Q.C. will provide effective advice and representation in seeking benefit payment or compensation. Contact Personal Injury Lawyer Geoff Aylward today. If you need immediate after-hours assistance, lawyer Geoff Aylward can be reached by text at 709-743-1708 or by email at [email protected]