The personal injury lawyers at Ottawa accident law firm Auger Hollingsworth often get calls from clients or other people handling their own claims who are very eager to resolve their personal injury accident claim to obtain a quick cash settlement. Sometimes, our advice has to be to encourage them to be patient and wait until the time for settlement is ripe.
Wait Until Your Ontario Accident Injuries Are Well-Known
The extent of many injuries is often not known for months or even years.
For example, we had one 40-year old client, “Sophie”, who had recovered from her initial neck and back injury but who still had some knee pain. The knee pain resisted diagnosis. She was told it was a sprain and a strain. The insurance company’s doctor suggested she had a rare birth defect that was causing her pain and that it was totally unrelated to her accident. This looked like a case to settle quickly because it seemed like her accident-related injuries were largely gone.
Fortunately a doctor finally took the time to perform more significant diagnostic testing on Sophie’s knee which revealed a damaged meniscus requiring surgery. We settled this case for three times the amount we would have settled for if we had not waited for the appropriate diagnosis.
Are You Back to Full Speed At Work following Your Ontario Accident?
If you have not returned to work after your injury, or are working less than you did before the accident, you should definitely not settle your claim unless you are certain you have reached maximum medical recovery. (We call this MMR). In Ontario where pain and suffering damages are capped, often the loss of income claim makes up the largest component of a settlement. If you do not know your final medical prognosis, how will you calculate your loss of income? When will you go back to work? When will you be back full time? All of those questions will be unresolved. You can be certain that the insurance company will not make assumptions about your return to work that will increase the amount of your settlement.
Ease the Financial Burden by Maximizing Your Statutory Accident Benefits
Our personal injury clients are sometimes impatient that the case is moving along slowly, especially if they are struggling financially in the meantime. The lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth are sympathetic to this concern but we are also mindful that a few extra months, or even a year, can make a substantial difference in the amount of a settlement.
An important role a lawyer can play for you while you wait until the time is right to settle your claim is to monitor your Accident Benefit claim. When you are injured in a car accident in Ontario, you are entitled to Accident Benefits. If you qualify, these benefits cover your medical and rehabilitation expenses, visitors’ expenses, attendant care and housekeeping expenses, to name some of the available benefits.
In addition, the Accident Benefits provide weekly amounts as income replacement, caregiver expenses or non-earner benefits. These benefits are not a fortune. However, for many families, these amounts ease the financial burden of an accident, making it possible to “stick it out” until the claim for compensation is resolved.
In most circumstances having a lawyer monitor your Accident Benefits while also working on your claim for compensation from the at-fault driver will help you ensure that you get the maximum out of these benefits while the other case is in the works. If you are handling your case on your own, you will want to pay close attention to your Accident Benefits.
Here is an example of the importance of keeping an eye on your Accident Benefits entitlement. In the Spring of 2008, our law firm was contacted by the daughters of an 82-year old retired brick layer, Carmen, who had been injured in a car accident 10 months earlier. Carmen did not speak English. Despite the fact that he notified his insurer about the accident and they handled his property damage claim, the insurance company never sent him information about his Accident Benefits. It was only when the daughters raised with Carmen’s physician that he was really struggling at home since the accident that the astute physician mentioned that Accident Benefits were available. The daughters made the claim but still had a sense that Carmen was not getting everything he deserved and required.
When our firm audited Carmen’s Accident Benefit file, we found he had been short-changed to the tune of $49,000 in back payments and interest. One letter from my firm and the entire arrears were paid and Carmen’s weekly and monthly payments started.
Find out if your personal injury claim is ready to be settled by arranging a free consultation, with no obligation, with an experienced accident lawyer in Ottawa, Ontario. Contact a lawyer at Auger Hollingsworth by using our contact form or call us at 613 233-4529.