Ottawa Car Accident Claims

Most of the cases we handle relate to car accidents in Eastern in Ontario. Based on the hundreds of cases we have handled, we have assembled a series of articles to answer most of your important questions about what to do after an Ontario motor vehicle accident. Need more information, call us at 613 860-4529.

Winter Driving: Personal Injury Lawyer Brenda Hollingsworth on CTVMorningLive

As the winter driving accidents start to pile up, Auger Hollingsworth personal injury lawyers founder, Brenda Hollingsworth, spoke to Annette Goerner about safe driving in winter conditions.

Did you know?

The number one reason our personal injury lawyers hear from at fault drivers who caused a collision is that they did not see the other vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist.

  • Clearing all the snow and ice off all your windows is required for safe winter driving.
  • Using windshield washer fluid is required for safe winter driving too.

When our personal injury lawyers ask at fault drivers why they hit our client’s vehicles, they typically tell us they “just could not stop in time.”

  • Having snow tires increases your ability to stop in winter conditions.
  • Anticipating long stop runways in winter conditions decreases the likelihood of a collision.

See Brenda Hollingsworth speak to Annette Goerner on Ottawa CTV Morning Live about avoiding winter driving accidents.

Winter Driving with Auger Hollingsworth Injury Lawyers

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 613 233-4529!

5 Things You Should Know Before You Settle Your Accident Benefit Claim

Are you thinking about resolving your accident benefit case?

If you are representing yourself on your motor vehicle accident file, or even just looking after your own accident benefit claim, the insurance adjuster may approach you to discuss settling your accident benefit claim.

Many claimants in the Greater Toronto Area settle their accident benefit claim for an amount that is not enough for their needs or for what they should get under their policy.  Many people who are not lawyers and who do not work in the insurance industry have no way of knowing what the total settlement amount the insurer could possibly payout.

Do you want to have all the information before settling?  Of course you do! 

Before you settle your claim, make sure you understand the following five tips:

  • First, Income Replacement Benefits continue beyond the 2-year anniversary of your collision if you still can’t work. Many people think the insurance company only has to pay income replacement for two years.  This is incorrect!
  • Second, ask if you are eligible to apply for catastrophic benefits. If your accident benefit claim is still open and you are not working and still suffering serious symptoms from your collision, you should consider requesting a consultation with a lawyer.  The process to apply for catastrophic benefits is not easy and there is a lot at stake.
  • Third, if you under-settle your Accident Benefit claim, it can cause problems in your lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident.  The insurance company for the at-fault driver may try to reduce what you could have or should have received from the accident benefit insurer from your compensation.
  • Fourth, did you know that any settlement you are offered by the accident benefit adjuster is negotiable? You should ALWAYS make a counteroffer, even if the adjuster says it is a final offer.
  • Fifth, the insurance company will evaluate your burn rate when assessing settlement amounts.  The burn rate is the speed at which you are consuming benefits.  What that means is the insurance company will assess how much money from the total policy limits you have used each year since your accident on medical rehabilitation expenses.  The insurance company will use the average of those numbers to predict your future expenses.  You should find out from the insurer what the burn rate is before you begin your negotiations.
  • Bonus: Settlement is virtually always final after a 48-hour cooling-off point. In most situations, after you settle your accident benefit claim, you cannot go back to ask for more money….so make sure the deal you negotiate is a deal that is good for you!

If you or someone you love is looking to settle their accident benefits claim and but would like to speak to a lawyer first, contact us 416 445 3529. Or fill out our handy contact form to request a callback.

How Long Will It Take to Settle My Ontario Accident Case?

 

This post was originally published on Sep 3rd, 2010 and updated on June 4th, 2020.  

As personal injury lawyers who meet hundreds of accident clients, we know that if you have been in a motor vehicle collision, either as a driver, passenger, cyclist or pedestrian, you are probably wondering how long it will take for your case to result in compensation for you.  There is no one size fits all answer to that question, but here are four factors that impact the timeline.

Factor Number 1:  What type of injury do you have?

Some injuries are more straightforward than others.  This can impact how easy it is to assess the value of your claim.  Many fractures or other “objective” injuries have a predictable recovery.  Plus, their lasting effects are easy to predict.  If you have an injury like that, it may be easier to settle your case sooner because we can reasonably assess what your case is worth without waiting to see what happens to you.

On the other hand, if you have an injury that is progressive where you may or may not need surgery in the future, it will be more difficult to assess your damages (the amount of compensation) at an early stage.  There is a serious risk of under-compensation if you settle before this type of injury has stabilized.  You do not want to settle your case too early and be shortchanged if your medical outcome is worse than you hoped.

Factor Number 2: Have you returned to work?

If you have already returned to work, or if you did not work before you were hurt, it may be possible to settle your case sooner because it is not necessary to predict what your total loss of income will be.  For example, if you are still off work, but expect and hope to return to work sometime in the future it can be difficult to negotiate enough compensation to cover all your lost future income.

We often must wait a long time before your doctors will provide a strong, conclusive opinion that you will not be returning to work.  Again, settling before you have that information risks under-compensation.  Loss of income can be the most important and most valuable part of a personal injury case so, it is important to maximize this part of your case.

Factor Number 3: Are your injuries permanent?

In Ontario, according to the Insurance Act, you cannot sue for pain and suffering after a car accident unless your injuries are permanent.  For many types of injuries, it takes time before you will be able to show that your injuries will meet that part of the legal threshold to sue in Ontario.

Factor Number 4: Did you contact a lawyer early in the process?

If you have a lawyer involved soon after the accident happens, there may be a chance to settle with the insurance company directly.  Settling before we start a lawsuit can be a much faster process than a lawsuit, although it is not appropriate or possible in some cases.

If you contact a lawyer too close to the limitation period expires (usually two years from the date of the accident), there may not be enough time to negotiate a resolution with the insurance company’s adjuster.  When that happens, a lawsuit will be required.  Where a lawsuit is started, cases rarely settle before examination for discovery which, can be scheduled 8-10 months down the road due to conflicting schedules.

To speak to an experienced Ontario personal injury lawyer call 613 233-4529, email us at [email protected] or use our handy contact form.

Cycling Deaths Lead to Calls for Increased Ottawa Bicycle Infrastructure

Two Ottawa cycling deaths this summer, combined with multiple Ottawa cycling injuries and countless close calls have left Ottawa bicycle enthusiasts spinning. If we accept that we are in a climate crisis (and how can we not?), surely we must do everything in our power as a City to promote and protect citizens who travel without fossil fuels. In a city as geographically large as Ottawa, cycling is one of the few no-emission options.

Some Improvements in Local Roads

The City of Ottawa has taken a number of strong steps to make cycling safer. The “complete streets” on Churchill Avenue and Main Street are good starts. However, aren’t they kind of complete streets to nowhere? More needs to be done so that cyclists can travel around the city safely on a consistent and integrated system of bikeways.

Consequences of Cycling Accidents

As personal injury lawyers, we see the aftermath of cycling collisions with motor vehicles on a daily basis. In fact, the firm’s first ever personal injury case was a dooring case. The three most common bicycle- motor vehicle collisions we see are:

* Dooring –> when a bike is struck by a door opened from a park car. This can happen on the driver or passenger side. Backseat passengers are also potential culprits.
* Right Hooks –> when a bike is going straight through an intersections and a right-turning vehicle t-bones them.
* Sideswipes –> when a vehicle passes the cyclist too closely on the right, striking the cyclist or running them off the road or both.

Cycling collisions can result in life threatening injuries and death. Cycling accidents can also cause fractures, chronic pain, concussion, road rash and lacerations. Many of our clients who are injured as cyclists suffer a loss of income and require health care services that are not covered by OHIP, such a physiotherapy.

How Auger Hollingsworth Can Help

At Auger Hollingsworth, we help injured cyclists by helping you access accident benefits and by pursuing compensation from the vehicle that struck you, typically by negotiating a settlement with their insurance company.

If you would like to speak to a personal injury lawyer about an injury you suffered as a cyclist, contact us by calling 613-233-4529.

Completing Statutory Accident Benefits Forms

If you have had a motor vehicle accident, you will probably receive forms from your insurance company to complete.  Alternatively, you might download the forms from the FSCO website.  These forms relate to your application for Statutory Accident Benefits, also known as “no-fault” benefits in Ontario.

In order to claim Statutory Accident Benefits, you MUST complete these three documents:

  • Application for Accident Benefits (OCF-1)
  • Employer’s Confirmation (OCF-2)
  • Disability Certificate (OCF3).

You will also receive a Permission to Disclose (OCF5), and Expense Claim (OCF6), a Treatment and Assessment Plan (OCF18)  and a Treatment Confirmation (OCF 23).  These forms are not mandatory and are not needed to start your claim.

Timelines for Completing the Statutory Accident Benefit Forms

There are timelines for completing the statutory accident benefit forms, but being a little but late will usually not cause problems, especially if there is a good reason.

The Application for Accident Benefits, OCF1, should be submitted within 30 days from the day you receive the forms.

The Disability Certificate, OCF3, should be submitted within 10 days of the completion of the Application for Accident Benefits.

Who Should Complete the Statutory Accident Benefit Forms

The Application for Statutory Accident Benefits, OCF1, should be completed by the person applying for accident benefits.  That person is referred to as the “claimant”.  A lawyer or a paralegal can help the claimant complete the form.  Auger Hollingsworth regularly assists clients with this form.

The Employer’s Confirmation, OCF2, has a section that is completed by the claimant.  The balance of the form is to be completed by the claimant’s employer.  If the claimant has had more than 1 employer over the past 52 weeks, each employer should complete a copy of the OCF2.

The Disability Certificate, OCF3, has a section that is completed by the claimant.  The balance of the form is to be completed by a health practitioner.  This includes a physician, chiropractor, dentist, occupational therapist, optometrist, psychologist, physiotherapist, nurse practitioner and speech language pathologist.  We highly recommend whenever possible that your PHYSICIAN complete the form.  He or she can submit an invoice for completing the form together with the form.

Where do you Send the Forms

If you received the forms directly from your own auto insurer, the return address is probably stamped on the forms, or identified in the cover letter that accompanied the forms.  Send them there.

If you downloaded the forms, you will have to determine where to send them.  Remember that where you send your forms is not dependent on who was at fault for the accident.  Consider:

  • If you have your own car insurance on your own car, send it to that insurer.  That is true even if your own car was not involved in the accident.
  • If you are listed as a driver on an insurance policy, send it to that insurer.
  • If you are dependent on someone or the spouse of someone who has his / her own insurance or is listed on an insurance policy, send it to that insurer.
  • If you do not have insurance and are not a spouse or dependent of someone with insurance, send the forms to the insurance company that covers the vehicle you were in at the time of the accident.
  • If you do not have insurance and are not a spouse or dependent of someone with car insurance and were struck as a pedestrian or cyclist, send the forms to the insurance company of the vehicle that struck you.
  • If you do not have insurance and are not a spouse or dependent of someone with car insurance and the vehicle you were in does not have insurance, send the forms to the insurance company for any other vehicle involved in the accident.
  • If all else fails, send the forms to the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund.

Need Help Completing your Statutory Accident Benefit Forms?

At Auger Hollingsworth we help accident victims complete Accident Benefit forms on a regular basis.  Why not give us a call to see if we can help you?  Call us at 613 233-4529 for a free no obligation appointment.

 

Ontario’s 2015 Budget is Bad for Accident Victims

Last week the Ontario provincial government released its 2015 budget.  Although it did not get a lot of attention, an entire section of the budget is dedicated to proposed changes to how injured victims are treated after a motor vehicle accident.

By and large, the news is not good.

The first proposal is to change the standard benefit level for medical and rehabilitation benefits to $65,000 (from $50,000) and to include attendant care services under this benefit limit.  Although this looks like an increase, it is actually a decrease.  Attendant care services of $36,000 are currently in place for the standard benefit package.  What happened to that $21,000 of coverage?  Gone!

The second proposal is to include attendant care services with the $1 million medical and rehabilitation benefit for catastrophic impairments.  Again, catastrophically injured victims currently have access to $1 million for EACH of medical rehabilitation and attendant care benefits.   The Premier was asked why Ontario was making this change.  Her answer was that Ontario has very “generous” benefits.   Generous is relative.  If you are a young person with a severe spinal cord injury, you will very quickly learn that $1 million is not very much money.  There was no reason provided to explain why the insurance companies require this change.

The third proposal is to reduce the standard duration of medical and rehabilitation benefits from 10 years to five years for all claimants except children.    Given the long wait times for MRIs and some types of orthopedic surgeries, there will be some accident victims who will not get proper rehab after their accident because the benefits will expire before they have time to use them.

The fourth proposal is to eliminate the six-month waiting period for non-earner benefits and limit the duration of non-earner benefits to two years after the accident.  In order to qualify for non-earner benefits, you have to be completely unable to live a normal life.  Only the most injured people qualify for this benefit.  Currently, there is a 6 month waiting period to qualify, but the benefits last until age 65 and then decrease in amount to age 70.  This is a very significant cut that will hurt Ontario’s most vulnerable.  The benefit is currently $185 per week.

There are other proposed changes that will negatively impact accident victims.  For example, the $30,000 deductible on damages for pain and suffering is going to be indexed to inflation.  That deductible applies to pain and suffering awards under $100,000.  That $100,000 number is also going to be indexed to inflation.  Indexing to inflation seems reasonable.  However, where the dollar figures are to the benefit of accident victims, there is no proposal to index for inflation. For example, the income replacement benefit under the Statutory Accident Benefits has been $400 per week for more than a decade.  The non-earner benefit is $185 per week.   How about a little indexing there?

Overall, this budget is a kick in the teeth to people who have already been kicked in the teeth!  And really, there is no explanation for why these changes are necessary or assist Ontarians.   The government seems to want to be congratulated  for lowering insurance premiums.  However,  it is no great feat to get a lower price for a lower quality insurance policy.

Ontarians will be getting less coverage for (maybe, it remains to be seen) lower premiums.  If you want to maintain your level of coverage, you have to pay for upgrades, i.e. pay more for the same.

Why no uproar?  Primarily because the people who will be negatively impacted by these changes do not know it yet.  These are accidents waiting to happen.

 

What are the New Changes to Statutory Accident Benefits in Ontario?

The government recently made changes to the Statutory Accident Benefits that will affect personal injury victims. There are three major changes that will have an impact on the following aspects of personal injury law:

  • how pre-existing conditions are dealt with under the Minor Injury Guideline
  • attendant care benefits for family members
  • the ability to alter benefits if the injuries are designated catastrophic

Change #1: Pre-existing Injuries and the Minor Injury Guideline

The first major change is an alteration to the Minor Injury Guideline. When you are placed in the Minor Injury Guideline, it means you will be given no more than $3,500 to recuperate from your injuries. With many injuries, you want to avoid the Minor Injury Guideline because $3,500 is not enough to help you fully recover. Previously, if you already had an injury that prevented you from reaching maximum recovery, then the Minor Injury Guideline (including the $3,500 insurance benefit limit) would no longer apply. Under the updated regulations, if your doctor has not recorded that you already had a pre-existing injury in your file before your accident then you are stuck in the Minor Injury Guideline. These changes will have a negative impact on those who do not have a doctor, or did not make a visit to their doctor, before their accident.

Change #2: Attendant Care

Family members often choose to stay at home to take care of an injured loved one. This will become difficult to do under the new changes. In the updated regulations, if the care provider is not working in their ordinary employment, then the attendant care benefit will not be more than the economic loss directly sustained while providing care. Overall, more and more families will have to return to work and have their loved one taken care of by health care professionals.

Change #3: Election of Benefits and Catastrophic Injuries

Our health changes over time. The goal is that you will heal after your injuries, but sometimes we unfortunately get worse. Previously, if your injuries became catastrophic, then you could have your caregiver benefits updated with 30 days. Under the new regulations, the election of benefits is final regardless of any changes. This hurts personal injury victims by not allowing their benefits to accurately represent their injuries.

Learn more by watching Brenda Hollingsworth discuss the changes to the Statutory Accident Benefits on CTV Ottawa Morning with host Lianne Laing.

Have questions about how these new regulations will impact your personal injury claim? Call a personal injury lawyer such as Auger Hollingsworth at 613-233-4529 to book a free, no-obligation consultation.

How can I claim Ontario no-fault benefits in a motor vehicle accident?

The Ottawa personal injury lawyers at Brenda Hollingsworth’s office are often asked about Ontario no-fault benefits and how they can be applied for after a motor vehicle accident.

The best way for you to get an answer that applies to you specifically is to contact us directly by calling 1-888-574-4529.  The Ottawa personal injury lawyers at Brenda Hollingsworth’s office can help you reach your insurance company and get the needed forms sent to you.

Victims of motor vehicle accidents often get confused about Ontario no-fault benefits because they can be called by various names:  accident benefits, statutory accident benefits, ABs, SABS…. However, these different names all mean the same thing. Everyone has Ontario no-fault benefits through their own car insurance. You can apply for them by contacting your insurance provider and reporting the accident. The insurance company will then send you an accident benefit application form.

However, even if you do not have insurance, because you do not own a car, you are still able to claim Ontario no-fault benefits.  Contact our office and we will help you determine whose insurer will provide you with accident benefits. 

Lianne Laing and Brenda Hollingsworth speak about what Ontario no-fault benefits are and the process to claim them on CTV Morning Live.

If you have questions about Ontario no-fault benefits that you are entitled to and the steps to take to claim them call Brenda Hollingsworth Personal Injury Lawyers at 1-888-574-4529 to learn your rights.

Ontario limitation periods. How long do I have to file my Ontario personal injury lawsuit?

The Ottawa personal injury lawyers at Brenda Hollingsworth’s office are often asked about Ontario limitation periods. Victims of personal injury want to know how long they have to file a claim for their Ontario accident.

The best way to get an answer specific to your case is to call us at 1-888-574-4529. Brenda Hollingsworth Personal Injury Lawyers can tell you who you need to notify after your accident and how long you have to do so.

Majority of adults have two years to start the process of a lawsuit after their motor vehicle accident or slip and fall accident in Ontario. When children are injured in an accident the time restraints are usually longer. However, when giving notice of a potential claim the window for notification is much shorter. These time restraints are what we call limitation periods.

Lianne Laing and Brenda Hollingsworth cover this topic and answer a caller’s question about Ontario limitation periods for her slip and fall accident on municipal property during CTV Morning Live.

If you have questions after your Ontario motor vehicle accident or slip and fall accident call Brenda Hollingsworth Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation at 1-888-574-4529. We can advise you on the next step to take to file your claim and make sure you have filed all appropriate notifications within the Ontario limitation period.

In an Eastern Ontario motor vehicle accident how am I compensated if I need to be retrained for work?

If you are a victim of an Eastern Ontario motor vehicle accident and you are left unable to perform your work duties, you may need retraining or modified tasks in your job.  Any time your livelihood is impacted by an accident, you should look to a personal injury lawyer for advice. The Ottawa personal injury lawyers at Brenda Hollingsworth’s office often get asked what compensation accident victims have when they cannot return to work.

After an Eastern Ontario personal injury where retraining is required, you may have funding under the Ottawa no-fault benefits.  These benefits are also called SABS, ABs or Statutory Accident Benefits.   Retraining can involve working with a vocational rehabilitation therapist, an occupational therapist and several other health care professionals.

When your career is jeopardized and results in a loss of income,  you may also be able to claim the loss of income in a law suit against the at-fault driver, provided that you can provide adequate proof of the loss and job path.  An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to build the income loss portion of your case.

Kurt Stoodley and Brenda Hollingsworth talk about income loss and Ontario accident compensation when a victim needs retraining for work.

For more information you can also request a copy of our book Injured Victim’s Guide to Fair Compensation.

If you have been left unable to perform work duties due to an Eastern Ontario motor vehicle accident and want to have your case evaluated by a personal injury lawyer contact the Ottawa personal injury lawyers at Brenda Hollingsworth’s office at 1-888-574-4529 for a free consultation.

 

 

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