Should You Hire a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Wasn't Your Fault?
If you are in an auto accident in Alberta that is not your fault, you may think you do not need to retain a personal injury lawyer. After all, the insurance companies will provide compensation and treat you fairly, right?
That is a dangerous assumption. The other driver's insurer may try to minimize the value of your claim, and the settlement offered may not cover the total amount of your damages or your future medical treatments.
Keep in mind that injuries caused by an auto accident may not appear quickly. You may think you walked away from the scene unscathed, only to have issues such as headaches and back problems or "invisible" injuries that manifest themselves in the coming months.
The personal injury lawyers at Kantor Personal Injury can ensure you get the compensation you deserve after an accident that was not your fault. If you have even minor injuries, we can arrange assessments with medical professionals to determine if they will linger or cause problems down the road.
DOES YOUR ACCIDENT FALL UNDER THE MINOR INJURY CAP?
Our experienced lawyers can also help you determine if your injuries fall under Alberta's minor injury cap. Alberta introduced the Minor Injury Regulation in 2004 to limit compensation for less-severe injuries arising out of motor vehicle accidents. Officials say it balances the rights of injury victims against rising insurance rates, intending to lower premiums for Alberta drivers, as it limits the amount that can be recovered in general damages.
The regulation only puts a cap on pain and suffering for those with specific minor soft-tissue injuries. There is no cap on compensation for income loss, medical expenses or the cost of future care or treatments.
According to the legislation, the cap – set at $5,365 for 2021 – applies to injuries "caused by the accident that does not result in a serious impairment and includes, in respect of a sprain, strain or WAD [Whiplash associated disorder] injury … that do not result in a serious impairment."
Determining a "minor injury" or" serious impairment" can be challenging. It is essential to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to ensure you are not being unfairly denied compensation.
WHAT IS YOUR LEVEL OF CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE?
When police or insurance adjusters investigate the circumstances that led to an accident, they will be looking for factors that contributed to the collision. Those include:
- not mechanically maintaining a vehicle in a safe manner;
- failing to wear a seatbelt while driving or as a passenger;
- exceeding the posted speed limit;
- being distracted by a cellphone or other electronics; and
- failing to obey traffic lights or signs.
The insurance adjuster can assign partial responsibility if they feel your actions contributed to the accident. When that happens with one of our clients, our legal experts will examine the police report and witness statements to determine if they are being unfairly blamed for contributing to the collision.
Even if it is determined that your actions were a contributing factor, we can still bring a claim for damages on your behalf. While it is up to the court to decide what compensation is fair in every situation, our lawyers work hard to ensure that you receive the settlement you deserve.
SOMEONE CAUSED AN ACCIDENT. WHAT DO I DO?
If you are in an accident that you believe is not your fault, immediate steps need to be taken. If someone is injured or you think the other driver is impaired, call 911. Always exchange insurance and ownership information with the other driver (taking a photo of their documentation with your cellphone is the easiest way) and call your insurance company to let them know what happened.
Sometimes the other driver will suggest paying you in cash for not reporting the accident. Don't accept such an offer, as it will probably not be enough to cover the damage to your auto, much less any health issue that may arise in the future.
If the police attend the scene, ask for a copy of their report or file number. If the damage to all the vehicles and property involved in the accident appears to be more than $2,000, you must go to an accident reporting centre and file a report. If you do not do that, the province could fine you or assign demerit points to your licence, affecting your insurance rate.
DEALING WITH THE OTHER DRIVER'S INSURANCE COMPANY
If another driver caused the collision, you have two choices.
You may claim under your collision coverage, which means your insurance company will seek compensation from the other driver's insurer. With this option, you may have to pay your deductible up front, but you can attempt to recover it from the other insurer or driver.
The second option is to claim directly against the other driver through their insurer. If there is damage to your car, you can get an estimate from the body shop of your choice, but all your dealings are with the other driver's insurer.
Be careful if you are asked to sign a release form, discharging the insurance company from liability after the auto repair. That may limit any additional claim you are making for any injuries you suffered. It is wise to consult with a personal injury lawyer before signing any document.
AFTER AN ACCIDENT, CONTACT US
A personal injury lawyer can help guide you through your options and help you obtain the compensation you need to help you recover from any injuries. They can also make sure that your insurance company does not attempt to limit the compensation that you are owed. Schedule your Free Consultation by calling (403) 452-2011 or send a message to email@example.com. We will represent you on a contingency fee basis, so we do not get paid for our time and attention until we settle.