Motor Vehicle Accidents Are the Time in Which to Consult a Lawyer

Motor Vehicle Accidents Are the Time in Which to Consult a Lawyer


For motor vehicle accidents that result in property damage and/or personal injury, the first question that one may think of asking is how to make a claim. Insurance companies in Ontario require the reporting of an accident within seven days of its occurrence. This may not be enough time to recover from what can be a traumatic ordeal, let alone to deal with a claims adjuster. Getting legal guidance before speaking to your insurer ensures that your claims are fully represented and pursued.


Making a Claim if You Are At-Fault


In Ontario, insurance companies follow the Fault Determination Rules of the Ontario Insurance Act. Regardless of weather or road conditions, insurers will designate someone to be at-fault. This can be partial fault, such as two vehicles travelling in opposite lanes, crossing over the centre line and sideswiping. In this case, both vehicles would be held as 50% at fault. As an example of 100% at-fault, Vehicle X is stopped at a red light and Vehicle Y rear-ends Vehicle X. Vehicle Y would, in such case, be designated as wholly at-fault.


If you are partially or fully at fault, you will likely see an increase in your insurance rate as well as the possibility of paying certain deductibles for the repair or replacement of your vehicle. If personal injuries also occurred, regardless of fault, you may still be entitled to make a claim for statutory benefits such as: (1) Income Replacement for when you are unable to work at your regular place of employment or (2) Medical and/or Rehabilitation to cover the costs of health-related expenses. 


Making a Claim if You Are not At-Fault


If you are designated as not at-fault, you should not see an increase in your insurance rate.


Besides the statutory benefits noted above, a zero fault party may also be able to seek what is called a "tort claim”, which is when the injured party sues the at-fault party for pecuniary (financial and economic loss) and non-pecuniary (long-term physical and/or psychological suffering) damages. Should there be a fatality during the motor vehicle accident, there are funeral and death benefits available.


Before Making Any Claim


Automobile insurance is required by law in Ontario, so make sure that your payments don’t lapse or that others who drive your vehicle, such as your spouse or children, are also insured. If the other at-fault party in the motor vehicle accident is uninsured, or if that other party is unknown because they have left the scene of the accident, you can still pursue recourse through the terms of your insurance policy or through Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVACF).


While there are different options when it comes to statutory benefits or a tort claim, a smart course is to have an advocate who can speak on your behalf and navigate the complex minutiae and jargon of policies and coverage. By definition, an accident is an unexpected occurrence – an unfortunate case of bad luck. To prevent any further potential misfortune after a motor vehicle accident, seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer before speaking with your insurer.