Frequently Asked Questions
I have been in a car accident. What do I do?
If you are at the accident scene, take pictures of the cars before they are moved. Get pictures of the physical damage,
both inside and outside of your vehicle. Get the contact information from any of those people who come to your assistance,
if possible. For obviously serious injuries, call for an ambulance.
For property damage greater than $1,000, everyone is required by law to attend at the Accident Reporting Center, located
at 1001 Bridges Street for London accidents. You will be asked to complete a report which includes a sketch and a statement
as to how the accident happened. Take the time to complete this accurately.
It is not unusual for symptoms to develop the day after the collision. For those accidents which result in any symptoms,
it is in your best interest to obtain medical advice. Be sure to report all symptoms.
You are required to report any injuries to your insurance company within 7 days of the accident, or as soon after that
as is possible. Your insurer is required to send you forms to be completed, where your injuries entitle you to benefits.
These forms are to be returned to your insurance company within 30 days of receipt. These forms will be relied upon by your
insurance company to determine your entitlement to benefits. Make sure these forms are completed accurately. Report all of
The general rule is that you have 2 years to start a lawsuit against the at fault driver to obtain compensation for your
pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, income loss in excess of what your own insurer provides, accident related
expenses, and claims for the losses incurred by your family as a result of your injury.
The greater the impact of your injuries, the more complex your claim for compensation becomes. You are entitled to
benefits from your insurance company. You may be entitled to claim losses from the insurance company of the at fault
Serious claims, including those where the ability to work or attend school is compromised, are well served by consulting
with an experienced personal injury lawyer. The consultation is free. Insurance companies know the rules.
Do I need a lawyer if I have been in a car accident?
An accident where there is no injury probably does not require a lawyer. Your insurance company responds to your claim
for the damage to your vehicle, assuming you have collision coverage. Where the cost to repair is more than the actual cash
value of your vehicle, you can research what a similar vehicle is worth in order to determine whether your insurance
company’s offer is fair.
Where there are minor injuries that completely resolve within the $3,500.00 maximum treatment payable by your insurance
company, you can probably deal with the process on your own.
Where the injury takes you off work, and the treatment does not resolve the injury, your entitlement to additional
compensation becomes more complex. Do you have a medical opinion as to the possible long term complications? Will the
injury impact your ability to work or complete school in the future? What happens as you get older?
Where the insurance company for the driver of the car who caused the accident offers to settle your claim, how do you
know what your injuries are worth? If you decide to allow this insurer access to your medical records, how do you know what
the records say if you do not get a copy of every record the insurer gets? How far back in your health records is an
insurer entitled to go?
The law provides the standard limitation period, or the date a court action has to be started, is 2 years from the date
of the car accident. By not starting a court action against all parties that may have caused or contributed to your
injuries and losses before the 2 year time frame, you may be prevented from obtaining proper compensation.
When you are dealing with an insurance company that knows the rules, how do you know what is fair when you don’t know
What is involved in a personal injury lawsuit?
Once you have given notice to the person who caused the collision that you intend to commence an action, the insurance
company for that person or company will ask for medical and financial records. Your lawyer will need to obtain and review
all of the relevant documents.
In order to claim compensation for your losses, a Statement of Claim must be issued. The claim needs to be issued within
two years of the date of the incident. This document sets out the facts of your claim.
A copy of the claim is provided to the defendant, who forwards it to his or her insurer who will retain a lawyer to file
and serve a Statement of Defence, setting out its position in regard to your claim.
The next step is the Discovery stage where each party must disclose all relevant documentation. Each person will be
asked questions during an oral Examination for Discovery. The defendant’s lawyer will require the injured person to
attend a medical examination by a doctor of its choosing.
At any point during the lawsuit, the parties may participate in a private mediation to attempt to settle the claim
outside of the court system. It is a voluntary process conducted with the assistance of a mediator, with the resolution
determined by the parties involved.
Prior to any trial, both parties must attend a Pre-Trial Conference. This is a meeting before a judge who will not
preside over the trial. The purpose of the Pre-Trial is to narrow issues before the trial, and to potentially resolve the
lawsuit. The judge may provide an opinion in regard to each party’s case.
If the lawsuit does not resolve at any time prior to trial, then the lawsuit will proceed to a trial.
Can my family be compensated for their own losses as a result of my injury?
Where the actions of a defendant cause you injury, the law permits family members to be compensated for certain types of losses.
The law sets out various categories of available compensation. These categories are loss of care (care you would have provided to your family member if you had not been injured), the loss of guidance (the inability of your family member to obtain this type of assistance from you), and loss of companionship (the activities you can no longer enjoy together).
The law also recognizes the value of any nursing services provided by your family member.
A family member who provides you with housekeeping and home maintenance services is also entitled to claim compensation for the value of the services provided.
A family member who has lost income from employment as a result of caring for you after your injury is also entitled to claim for this loss.
All claims are subject to the requirement that the losses be caused by the at fault person. Satisfactory proof of the amount of the loss is also required.
If your injury is caused as a result of a car accident happening after October 1, 2003, the at fault driver’s insurance company is not required to pay the first $15,000 of each family member’s damages for loss of care, guidance, and companionship. Where your accident occurs after August 1, 2015, the at fault driver’s insurance company is not required to pay the first $18,270. The amount the insurance company is not required to pay will increase by inflation every year.
For car accidents, these deductions apply unless your family member’s damages exceed $50,000 or $60,899 for those accidents which occur after August 1, 2015.
The jury at any trial is not told about these deductions.
How does the at-fault driver’s insurance company assess my claim?
While only the insurance company would be able to answer this question, there are some factors which have universal
In most motor vehicle collisions, it is clear who is at fault. The law, in terms of what compensation is available, is
also relatively clear. What is almost always a complicated issue is the insurer’s assessment of your credibility.
The insurance company defending a collision claim almost always wants any claim for compensation to be decided by a
jury. Juries are unpredictable.
The argument advanced is always about your credibility. The insurance company’s focus is that you should not be
believed when you describe what the changes are to your employment, recreational activities, activities of daily living,
and relationships following the collision.
The insurer’s lawyers will compare what you have told your treatment providers to what you have told them and their
Video surveillance, taken without your knowledge by the insurance company’s investigators, will be compared to what
you have told the insurance company, their assessors, and your treatment providers. Any differences, between what is seen
on the video and what you have said that you can do, will be used to try to convince the jury that you should not be
Particular emphasis is placed on the failure to disclose previous health issues or any post collision trauma, even if
you think that these issues were minor and did not impact your ability to function.
The insurer will also assess the evidence assembled to prove your losses, and the willingness and ability of your own
lawyer to take your case to trial.
Consistent, accurate, and truthful reporting of your symptoms and functional limitations is the key to dealing with this
How do I prove what my losses are from my car accident injuries?
Entitlement to compensation for your injuries is based on being able to prove that the car accident caused each injury.
The law only requires that you prove this on the balance of probabilities (i.e. more than a 50% chance).
Insurers often take the position that the forces involved in the collision were insufficient to cause any injury; the injury was caused by something else, either before or after the collision; and you would have had the symptoms even if there had been no collision. These arguments can be accepted by the jury at a trial.
The better proof you can provide, the greater chance of obtaining proper compensation.
Prompt reporting of your symptoms to your healthcare practitioners is key. Complete reporting of all symptoms, including psychological symptoms such as anxiety, difficulty being a passenger, difficulty sleeping, and difficulties with memory, are all essential to both obtain proper treatment and to prove the relationship between the car accident and your injuries.
Keeping receipts for all expenses and a record of what individuals, including friends and family, have done in terms of assistance also provides the necessary proof.
Attending for treatment for your symptoms on a regular basis is important. Reporting any symptoms that have improved and which symptoms continue is also key. This will satisfy the insurance company responding to your claim that you have met the appropriate burden of proof that the accident caused your injuries and that you have done everything in your power to help yourself get better.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can assist with this process and provide you with the necessary tools to improve your ability to recover, and, where this does not occur, to obtain fair and reasonable compensation for your injuries.
How does the cost to fix my car affect my claim for injuries?
It does not, or, better put, it should not.
There is no relationship between the cost that your insurance company agrees to pay to repair your vehicle and the nature and extent of the injuries suffered by anyone involved.
It is not unusual for a defendant admit that the collision was his or her fault, and then to try to show the jury pictures of the damage to the vehicles. The jury is then encouraged to apply their collective “common sense.”
This implies that there is a relationship between a picture showing what appears to be minor damage to the vehicles, and the extent of the injuries caused by the collision.
This is a common method of seeking to attack the credibility of the injured person.
Statistics from the London Police show an annual average of 10,000 reported collisions in London. Only a small percentage of these collisions result in any claim for injury compensation. A much smaller percentage ever proceeds to a jury trial.
A front page survey by the London Free Press indicates 50% of respondents had either been involved in a motor vehicle collision, or knew someone who had been.
(p)What is important is the difference between a person’s ability to function before the collision and his or her ability to function afterwards. The medical evidence and the lack of any other reasonable cause for the loss of function should be the test, not what may be wrongly assumed from viewing a photograph.
Common sense is based on the evidence, and not on personal experience.
Do I have enough car insurance to protect my family?
Car insurance used to be “one size fits all.” The government has changed this. The standard policy provisions have
been reduced. The decision to get these benefits back is left up to you.
Statistics show that less than 1% of consumers have purchased these now optional benefits.
The amount payable in income replacement benefits by your insurance company is 70% of your gross pre-accident income if
you cannot work. If you earn more than $30,000, have no other insurance, and have not purchased one of the available optional
benefits, your insurance company will only pay up to a maximum of $400 a week.
Before September 1, 2010, each policy had up to $100,000 for medical and rehabilitation coverage. This has been reduced to
$50,000. Optional benefits can restore the benefit to $100,000. One of the optional benefits can also increase this coverage
to a maximum of $1.1 million, payable for life. The extra benefit also includes more than $1,000,000 for services provided by
an aide, or for the cost of a long-term care facility. An additional benefit is also available to assist with childcare.
You can pay a lawyer to fight for some of these additional benefits, or you can pay a modest additional premium to ensure
that your family has better coverage.
Most policies have protection of $1 million if anyone driving your car is sued by anyone claiming to be injured. The cost
to increase this coverage to $2 million is modest, but can help protect your personal assets from any claims.
In order to be effective, optional benefits can only be purchased before a car accident occurs.
London Police Services statistics show more than 10,000 accidents every year. Protecting your family by getting the
proper coverage requires choice and advice. Everyone who purchases car insurance is well advised to discuss these choices
with their insurance broker.
Are winter tires worth the investment in safety?
Look at the facts: In Quebec, winter tires have been mandatory since 2008. Winter collisions have fallen by 17%, and crashes resulting in serious injury or death are down 36%.
The benefit of winter tires goes beyond just the snow. The advantage is in the flexibility of the rubber. For summer and all-season tires, the rubber becomes increasingly inflexible when the temperature reaches 7 degrees, causing the tires to lose traction.
Not all tires are created equal. The efficacy of winter tires increases when the temperature reaches freezing. The Traffic Injury Research Foundation states that when temperatures are below 0 degrees on dry pavement, in comparison to all-season tires, winter tires have been shown to reduce stopping distance by 30%.
While helping aid acceleration and preventing getting stuck in the snow, AWD is not a substitute. Winter accidents are often caused by losing control. When it comes to slowing down, stopping, or cornering, AWD provides little benefit over front or rear wheel drive vehicles.
Winter tires use special rubber and tread designs to which provide greater traction and move water. Driving over snow or ice will melt the top layer, creating a thin level of water. Directing the water away from the tire prevents hydroplaning. Some manufacturers will even include harder materials (like crushed walnuts) for increased traction.
There exists a wide range of options of winter tires with varying prices. New tires can range from $200 to $2000 for a set. Used winter tires are a popular option. The adage “you get what you pay for” applies. Local retailers Beck and Midtown Tires say a used set can range anywhere from $160-$500 installed.
Be safe. Protect your family. Get winter tires.
Are there any steps I can take to avoid a collision?
It is impossible to avoid a crash when others fail to follow the rules of the road, but there may be some steps which can be taken to reduce the chances of this happening.
Making your vehicle easier to be seen is one step. Making sure your car’s front and rear lights are clear of snow will make your vehicle more visible.
Often people will operate their vehicles at dusk, or even at night, with only the running lights operating. When a vehicle’s dashboard lights are on, you may not realize the headlights and the rear lights are not turned on.
One of the questions an insurance lawyer may ask is whether or not your brake lights were working when a Defendant’s car rear-ended yours. When the answer is yes, the next question is: How do you know? Checking to see the brake lights are working on a periodic basis is the only way to be sure.
It is an age-old comment to slow down in bad weather, but the common sense in this practice cannot be successfully challenged.
Daylight running lights on Canadian cars have been mandatory since December of 1989. Where weather is bad, turning on the headlights will increase the ability of others to see your car.
Left hand turns are particularly dangerous. Why not wait until you are sure the way is clear before commencing your left turn?
Driving while you are fatigued is never a good idea, given the reduction in your reaction time.
The science is clear that texting while driving, and perhaps even talking on a hands free phone, impairs your ability to react to emergency situations.
How will the proposed changes in the Ontario provincial budget affect future compensation for those who are injured in car
The Provincial Government continues to reduce the injured person’s entitlement to compensation, both for their losses
and for treatment.
Since October 1, 2003, the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident, or the “at-fault” insurance company,
has not been required to pay the first $30,000 for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. The new provincial
budget increases this amount of non-payment, or “deductible,” to $36,750. This amount will increase every year with
The maximum benefits for medical, rehabilitation, and attendant care needs (payments to others to provide care due to an
injury) have been reduced from $86,000 to $65,000, regardless of whether the treatment has maximized recovery.
The timeline for which these benefits are payable for adults has been reduced from 10 years to 5 years, regardless of
whether continuing treatment is required beyond 5 years.
Benefits for the most seriously injured have been reduced by 50% to a maximum of $1,000,000 for lifetime treatment and
Other changes include the denial of the right to take your own insurance company to court if your insurance company denies
recommended treatment or income replacement benefits.
More details about the Provincial Government’s changes to your car insurance policy can be obtained at
truthaboutinsurance.ca. This website can connect you to your MPP.
If these proposed changes are implemented, you may wish to contact your car insurance broker to obtain replacement
coverage at an additional premium. The availability of benefits and your entitlement to compensation can be further explained
at Good Law Office.
I have a notice from my insurance company. Are my benefits changing?
Yes. The provincial government has decided to reduce the benefits available effective June 1, 2016. The changes do not take effect until policy renewals after June 1.
Medical and rehabilitation benefits have been combined. The maximum benefit has gone from $86,000 to $65,000. The term of the benefit for medical and rehabilitation has been reduced from 10 years to 5 years.
Benefits for those individuals who can prove that they are catastrophically injured have been reduced from $2 million to $1 million.
Benefits for those who were not working as at the date of the collision, previously payable for life, are now payable for a maximum of 104 weeks.
Income replacement benefits continue to be calculated at 70% of gross pre-accident income, to a maximum of $400 per week. If you have any collateral benefits, such as short-term disability, 70% of your short-term disability benefits are subtracted from the $400 maximum payable by your car insurance company.
The government is promoting that consumers can purchase optional benefits to increase some of the coverage. Very few optional benefits are ever purchased, perhaps because individuals don’t ask their insurance broker what benefits are available, and what the optional benefits cost.
Anyone working without a disability policy, and those with family, should review the optional benefits, and the cost with their insurance broker in order to make sure their family is protected.
I have a serious injury as a result of a fall on someone else’s property. What do I do?
As soon as you or someone else on your behalf is able, take photographs of the location of the fall from all angles and
multiple distances. Determining the condition of the premises where the fall occurred is essential to establish that the
owner has failed to keep the premises reasonably safe.
Obtaining the names and contact particulars of any persons who witnessed your fall will assist in satisfying a
responding insurer as to the circumstances surrounding your injury.
Putting the owner or the owner’s representative on notice of the injury as soon as possible also assists in dealing
with an insurance company’s response.
It is not unusual for the initial reaction to be one of embarrassment and reluctance to report the fall. Prompt
reporting allows the owner to conduct its own investigation, and satisfy themselves as to the details surrounding the
injury. A significant delay in reporting can cause difficulties proving your loss.
Advising the superintendent in an apartment building or the security department in a mall or the manager in a retail
premises as soon as possible is important. Get the name of the individual.
Special rules apply where the injury is caused on property owned by a municipality, such as a sidewalk or municipal
parking lot. Written notice is required to be given within 10 days of the injury to the clerk of the municipality.
Providing an accurate description of where the injury occurred is also important.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can assist with this process, and advise as to whether or not it is worth
proceeding with your claim.