Car Accident Injuries: Effects, Impacts and Legal Considerations
Sometimes, a car accident can result in serious injuries that may require you to start a lawsuit. In a split second, a car accident can impact your entire life, including your daily living, your long-term health, your ability to work, your relationships, and create difficult questions surrounding accident benefits entitlements.
Below is a look at the various ways that a car accident can impact you, if you have been injured.
Injuries sustained in a car accident can range from very minor to absolutely life-altering. For obvious reasons, the severity of the injuries sustained in different car accidents will have variable impacts on people’s lives. However, different types of injuries also receive different treatment in law.
It is important to speak to a lawyer to understand the implications of your injury on what entitlements you have at law, and to ensure that you protect your rights when communicating with both your own insurer, or the insurer or lawyer for an insured at-fault driver.
Under Ontario law, certain types of injuries will be deemed “catastrophic”. Generally, the definition of catastrophic is limited and refers to permanently life-altering injuries, such as severe brain trauma, spinal cord injury and paralysis. The term has a very specific definition under Ontario’s Insurance Act and can also include severe combinations of physical and mental impairment, especially where three or more areas of the body are involved.
Whether or not an injury is determined to be catastrophic will have a significant impact on the amount of accident benefits that you can access through your insurer. For example, ordinarily, only $50,000 is available combined for medical and rehabilitation benefits (or $65,000 for medical and attendant care combined), but where there is a catastrophic injury, this increases to $1,000,000.
Again, it is important to consult with a lawyer in order to be able to support a case that you have sustained a catastrophic injury, and to access the maximum amount of available accident benefits under your insurance policy.
On the other end of the spectrum, Ontario’s statutory accident benefits regime contains the Minor Injury Guideline (MIG). The MIG which deems certain types of injuries as “minor”, including sprains, strains, whiplash, contusions and lacerations. Accident benefits are capped at $3,500 for these types of injuries.
Several cases fall somewhere between the extremes of catastrophic and minor injuries. Again, medical-related accident benefits for these types of “serious” injuries are capped at a combined total of $65,000 (including medical, rehabilitation, and attendant care benefits).
Lawyers and injured persons have struggled with these definitions, as they can often be unclear. If you have chronic pain or ongoing symptoms of sprains or whiplash, you may be frustrated by your insurers’ treatment of their injuries, especially if you are not represented by a lawyer. Your initial consultation with a Tamming Law personal injury lawyer is complementary. Additionally, most personal injury cases are taken on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay legal fees unless and until you win compensation.
Psychological Health, Lifestyle and Relationships
Beyond the pain and logistical difficulties resulting from a physical injury, injuries sustained from a car accident can impact your mental health, happiness, lifestyle and relationships with family, friends, people at work and others you interact with in the community. A physical injury may give rise to immobility, which can lead to an inability to engage in activities that bring you previously enjoyed and can lead to depression and despair.
All of this, compounded, can have a notable impact on your relationships. The emotional strain of enduring injury can cause you tension with others. Injuries may also make getting out of a facility or your home more difficult, and more infrequent, which can cause feelings of social isolation.
In a personal injury lawsuit, the court will look at all of these factors when assessing your general damages for pain and suffering.
Income and Livelihood
Depending of the severity of an injury, you may be required to take time a significant amount of off from work. If and when you can work, you may struggle to return to the same type of role, or you may be hindered completely from working in any occupation. The psychological impacts that accompany physical injury can compound and make returning to work even more difficult.
No-fault accident benefits, available to all insured drivers and passengers regardless of fault in an accident, provide for income loss benefits for serious and catastrophic injuries. However, depending on whether you purchased optional benefits through your car insurance provider, these benefits can be highly limited and cover only basic needs. They are a certain proportion of income, to a maximum amount per week. In order to recoup the rest of loss income, you will typically need to bring a tort claim against an at-fault driver.
Insurance and Driving Record
Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can also increase your insurance rate, depending on your liability for the accident. Note, an insurer is not allowed to raise your premiums if you are found less than 25% liable for the accident but can raise the rate if you are found to be more than 25% liable. Even still, some insurers waive a premium increase after a person’s first at-fault accident.
Specific factors are used to determine whether your premium will increase after an accident, and by how much, and these factors vary from insurer to insurer. A car accident can stay on your record between six to 10 years, depending on the nature of the accident.
Regarding your pre-existing driving record, your driving record will only be impacted if you are found at fault in an accident. An at-fault driver may receive various numbers of demerit points depending on the type of accident that they are involved in, the driving error or highway traffic offence that caused the accident, and actions taken after the accident. For example, failing to stay at the scene of a collision is the worst offence, attracting 7 demerit points. Street racing or driving 50km/h or more over the speed limit, attracts 6 demerit points. Your license may be suspended if you reach between 9 and 14 demerit points and will automatically be suspended if you reach 15 demerit points. These points are cleared on your driving record after two years.
Let Tamming Law Help to Minimize Your Losses and Maximize Your Compensation
If you have been injured in a car accident, seek legal services in Owen Sound right away to protect your rights and explore the best options for rehabilitation. Call us and arrange for your free initial consultation at 1-888-945-5783.