Wissenz Law

Motor Vehicle Accidents FAQs: What To Do When You’ve Been In A Car Accident

Have you been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident? Are you having trouble recovering? Sometimes, it’s obvious that the injury you have suffered is serious and permanent. Other times, it only becomes clear that you can no longer maintain your previous level of function, work and family life until later on. At Wissenz Law, our clients know that our job is to help you get as much of your old life back as possible. That’s why we’ve been voted Hamilton’s Best Law Firm and Hamilton’s Best Lawyer in the Hamilton Community News Readers’ Choice Awards more than 10x and counting!

Motor Vehicle Accidents: Frequently Asked Questions

To have a legal claim against the at-fault driver in a Motor Vehicle Accident, you must have sustained a “serious and permanent” injury”. A bump or bruise might be inconvenient and sore, but likely won’t exceed the threshold of “serious and permanent”.

Do I need a lawyer if I’ve been in a car accident? Do I need a lawyer if I’ve been hit by a car?

Yes. If you have been in more than a minor fender bender, or if anyone in the vehicle or a pedestrian has been injured or seriously injured, you should always contact a Personal Injury Lawyer for a consultation. At Wissenz Law, we provide free consultations and work with clients who have been seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents, either as drivers, passengers or pedestrians.

If you have been injured in a car accident or hit by a car, after calling for first responders and seeking medical attention, take pictures of the scene, if you are able, and of your injuries, if possible. A photograph may capture more accurately what a police accident report, or self-report, does not. Obtain the names and contact information for any witnesses, their evidence may prove valuable down the road. Documentation is an important part of legal proceedings.

Do I have to contact my own insurance company if the accident was not my fault?

Yes. In addition to arranging for your car to be repaired, if possible, your own insurance company will be responsible for your “Accident Benefits”. Those benefits may include: income replacement benefits; medical rehabilitation benefits; attendant care benefits; non-earner benefits; caregiver benefits; housekeeping and home maintenance benefits. The amount you receive for these benefits depends upon your injury and your policy.

What does “serious and permanent injury” mean?

According to Ontario law, there are two components that are considered to determine whether or not an injury caused by a motor vehicle accident meets the threshold of being “serious and permanent”.

Whether an injury is “serious” or not depends on each individual person. This branch of the test is subjective. What is serious to me may not be serious to you. Does your injury impair your ability to function as you did prior to the accident? If so, your injury may very well meet the test of being “serious”.

Whether an injury is “permanent” depends less on you as a person and more on the prognosis you receive from your medical professionals. Will my injury resolve? Will I fully recover? If the answer to these questions is “no” then your injury may very well meet the test of being “permanent”. Determining whether or not your injury is “permanent” may be obvious in some cases, but in may cases it takes quite some time for your medical team to determine whether or not your injuries will ever resolve.

Does the seriousness of my injury need to impact my earnings?

No. Injuries may not prevent you from managing your work, or perhaps you don’t work outside the home, or you are retired or even on a disability benefit.

However, if you did work before the accident and are unable to return to your job, that is a good indication that your injury is “serious”. However, you may return to work, you may not be as productive as you were before your accident, or you may require modifications to the way in which you perform your job, or you may only be able to manage on a reduced schedule and maybe your work day takes everything you have and is all you are able to manage day to day. Your personal, family and recreational life are adversely and significantly affected. If you are unable to function like you did before your injury, then your injury may meet the threshold of severity required to make a successful claim against the at-fault driver.

What if I may be partially at fault for the Motor Vehicle Accident?

If you are contributorily negligent, that is, partially at fault for the collision, the degree to which you are or are not at fault may impact the amount of your compensation, but not determine whether or not you are entitled to compensation. Fault is a consideration in your claim against the other at-fault driver, but it is not a consideration in your Accident Benefits claim against your own insurance company. Whether you are at fault or not, it is always smart to seek legal guidance through your free consultation.

How long after a Motor Vehicle Accident do I have to make a claim?

The basic limitation period is 2 years and it is wise to bring an action within that time period. Notice periods may also be relevant however, and they can be as short as 10 days from the date of the accident. Call as soon after your accident as possible, to ensure that you are not missing the opportunity to be compensated for your injuries.

After you’ve been in a motor vehicle accident, you may not realize that you’ve been “seriously injured” right away. In many cases, you won’t or can’t know the degree to which your injury has impaired your quality of life until long afterwards.

For example, you may believe that you are recovering, but eventually it becomes obvious that you cannot maintain your previous level of function, quality of life, level of physical activity or occupational capacity.

Perhaps you attempted to return to work and it was clear that you were unable to manage your responsibilities and tasks. Perhaps you returned to work, but after some time realized that it’s all you can manage, so your personal and recreational life has been sacrificed, affecting your overall quality of life.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Booking a Consultation

  • Is my injury serious to me? Is it, or is it likely to be, permanent? Is my day-to-day function impaired and has my quality of life been negatively impacted?
  • Did the police attend the scene? Did you attend a Reporting Centre?
  • What was the date of your accident? It is important to know as many details, such as times and dates, as possible.
  • Do you have photographs or witness contact information?
  • Do you have dash-cam video?
  • What type and amount of damage was done to the vehicles involved?
  • Was anyone charged as a result of this accident?

Limitation Periods and Notice Periods

  • In most cases, in Ontario, the basic limitation period is 2 years. That is, a claimant has up to 2 years from the day their claim is discovered to have a Statement of Claim issued in Ontario courts.
  • That said, there are much shorter notice periods that may be critical to the success of your law suit.
  • Don’t delay in reaching out to discuss the circumstances of your potential claim. The more you know, and the earlier you know it, the better prepared you will be to protect your rights, should a law suit become necessary.
  • Many different laws, regulations and procedures govern the issuing of a Statement of Claim or commencement of an action in Ontario.
  • Complying with relevant limitation and notice periods is critical to your ability to successfully claim against an at-fault party.  For the most part, a lawsuit issued after the expiration of a limitation period has passed will be dismissed.