Imagine the unthinkable; you are injured in a car accident. You suffer from pain and disabilities that prevent you from working and carrying out your daily life. You are not responsible for the collision, but you live with the physical and financial consequences.
You should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. They will start the process to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
JM Bray is a personal injury lawyer with Orendorff and Associates in Sudbury. He says, “You’ve probably never dealt with a personal injury lawyer before and don’t know where to turn. Ask a lawyer you know and trust to recommend you.
Don’t expect a windfall
In Ontario, the compensation you deserve and the compensation you will receive are not the same thing.
Many people get an idea of how our legal system works by watching American television. When they see huge multi-million dollar settlements awarded to accident victims south of the border, they expect something similar in Ontario. “But that’s not the reality,” Bray says. “When people call us after being injured in a car accident, they have a lot of misconceptions about what they think their level of compensation should be.”
Few people know that under Canadian law there is a cap on the damages a court can award for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
The maximum a court can award for pain and suffering right now, and that’s only if you become a quadriplegic as a result of a car accident, is about $425,000. Bray says, “Most people are shocked when they learn of this cap, and rightly so, because it is unreasonably low and does not reflect the real pain and suffering these victims must endure from their catastrophic injuries.”
Bray adds, “When you look at how the court assesses pain and suffering, given that there is a cap, and then in Ontario with the statutory deductible, the result is that many injuries are not compensable in cases of car accidents, which is not fair. ”
What is the no-fault deductible?
The “deductible” is taken from the court’s compensation of an injured person for pain and suffering. This year, the deductible exceeds $41,500. This means that if an accident victim receives $50,000 for pain and suffering, the amount they will actually receive is $8,500. Bray says, “The deductible is money taken away from injured victims by the Ontario government’s insurance laws. If you get a judgment for $50,000 because of your injuries, you should get the full $50,000, but in Ontario that’s not how it works. Where is the logic or fairness?
Moreover, for example, if an accident victim is granted $35,000, he will not receive any compensation since the amount is less than the deductible. “To add insult to injury,” Bray says, “if the value of the award does not exceed the deductible, the injured person may be required to pay the defendant insurance company’s legal costs.”
If the pain and suffering award is greater than $138,343.86, the deductible does not apply. However, in Ontario, pain and suffering judgments are rarely that high, meaning most cases will fall within the deductible range.
The deductible will increase each year. Insurance companies say it is necessary to reduce insurance costs. But Bray asks, “How many of us have seen our insurance premiums go down in the last 10 years? We have lost sight of the purpose of insurance compensation, which is to help victims of trauma and accidents recover and get back on their feet.
The deductible rules apply to anyone seriously injured in an automobile accident in Ontario. Bray says, “We pay a lot of money for insurance premiums and people might be surprised how unfair it is for many who are injured through no fault of their own.”
The pay is unfair
To make matters worse for car accident victims, to receive compensation for pain and suffering, car accident victims’ injuries must meet a “serious and permanent” threshold.
Take the example of a mechanic injured in a car accident. He was awarded $60,000 by jury for pain and suffering, the deductible of which was later reduced to $18,000.
After the jury’s verdict, the judge must determine whether the mechanic’s injuries meet the threshold definition of being permanent and serious. If the judge finds that the injuries do not meet the threshold, the mechanic’s pain and suffering compensation is reduced to zero. Nothing!
People only become aware of the paltry compensation amounts after consulting a lawyer following an accident. JM Bray points out: “Victims of road accidents and their lawyers are not greedy and abuse the system. It is important to know what the law is in Canada and Ontario and how little compensation it provides for injured parties.
Adds Bray, “The insurance industry saves a lot of money on the majority of car accident cases at the expense of injured victims.
To change the compensation system, contact your local Member of Provincial Parliament.
John Michael Bray is a personal injury lawyer with the law firm Orendorff and Associates in Sudbury and a former director of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association. Contact JM Bray at (705) 673-1200. Email: [email protected]