INSURANCE CLAIMS AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT: THE BASICS
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may have a claim against your own insurance company, as well as the insurer of the party at-fault for the accident. If the at-fault party does not have insurance, your own insurer should step in and provide coverage.
GET MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY
Following an accident, your main concern should be your health and safety. If you or someone involved in the accident require an ambulance, then you should call one immediately. While there are important factors to keep in mind throughout the claims process, nothing trumps your own safety and health, and the well-being of others, in those very stressful circumstances following an accident. Additionally, lawyers often rely on ambulance reports for pertinent information, and therefore, often times it is in your best interest to take an ambulance if you are in pain and the on-site paramedics recommend it.
YOU MAY BE ENTITLED TO ACCIDENT BENEFITS FROM YOUR OWN INSURANCE COMPANY
In Ontario, we have what is referred to as a no-fault system in place. That is to say, if you are involved in an accident, and are at fault, you may have benefits available to you. The Ontario system therefore attempts to provide you with treatment following an accident, irrespective of whether you are at fault or not. Your own insurance company is often referred to as “first party insurance”, and technically, they owe you a fiduciary duty and must act in good faith. Far too often, as personal injury lawyers, we see first party insurance companies taking on a very adversarial role in the claims and recovery process, and unfortunately, one cannot rely on their own insurance company to have their bests interests at heart.
THIRD PARTY INSURERS AND THE AT-FAULT DRIVER
While you file your Accident Benefits application with your own insurance company, a third party claim is one you file against the at-fault driver, which will be handled by their insurance company if they are insured. If the other driver was at fault (or partially at fault), and your injuries meet certain thresholds, you may consider filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. There are a number of areas of damages you may recover, such as loss of income, pain and suffering, future costs of care, and medical expenses. There are important deadlines you must abide by when filing a personal injury claim, and we recommend you contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
THE INSURANCE CLAIMS PROCESS
The government through its legislation, and insurance companies through their common practices, have made it very difficult for any layperson to navigate the claims process without the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Generally speaking, every claims process starts by putting the appropriate parties on notice. If the subject accident involved a motor vehicle, your own insurance company will require a number of forms to be filled out. If this is the case, we recommend you fill out these forms with the help of a lawyer, as it is important they get filled out properly.
Once the parties are put on notice properly, your lawyer should send you to the appropriate treatment facilities and begin gathering documents and evidence to support your claim. The claims process may also involve such things as questioning by the other party’s lawyer, mediation, settlement calls, or in rare cases even trial. Although your lawsuit will likely not go to trial, it is important for your lawyer to prepare your case throughout the way as if it were going to trial.
SPEAK WITH A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
Insurance companies are in the business of saving money and discouraging any claims being brought against them. A great first step, is contacting the right law office to provide you with a free consultation, and answer questions you may have about personal injury claims, and the prospect of your case succeeding. Contact our law office for a free no-obligation consultation.
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