If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, compensation is available to you to cover your losses. The amount and type of compensation available will depend partially on who was at fault for the accident.
Whether you were at fault or not, your own insurance policy will provide you with “no fault accident benefits.” If another driver is at fault, then you will additionally be able to pursue a claim against the other driver for losses that go above and beyond the type and amount available under the no fault scheme.
NO FAULT ACCIDENT BENEFITS
Section B of Alberta Regulation 352/72, made under the Insurance Act, defines the parameters of accident benefits available under any standard automobile insurance policy in Alberta.
Any injured occupant of a vehicle involved in an accident is eligible to receive $50,000 in medical expense coverage, recoverable from the vehicle driver’s policy. However, the necessity of the medical expenses must be proven, via confirmation by medical professionals and other evidence.
Any injured occupant of a vehicle is also entitled to disability benefits, which cover some amount of income loss resulting from injuries incurred in an accident. Each person is entitled to $400 per week, or 80% of his or her gross weekly earnings (as measured by looking at average earnings prior to the accident), whichever is lower. However, in order to access these benefits, it must be shown that the person is wholly disabled from performing the essential duties of his or her job, which will require medical evidence.
Other claimable expenses include $5,000 in funeral expenses for a person who is deceased as the result of an accident, and $400 per affected person for family grief counselling.
It is important to note that the insurer must be notified within 30 days of the accident’s occurrence in order to commence a claim for benefits. To claim medical and disability benefits, the requisite paperwork must be forwarded to the insurer within 90 days of the accident. It is wise to speak to a personal injury lawyer to ensure that you meet the requirements to maintain eligibility to claim benefits, and to avoid denial of your claim due to insufficient evidence.
Benefits are only payable for the first two years following an accident.
ACTION IN TORT AGAINST AN AT-FAULT DRIVER
If you have been injured by fault of a third-party driver, the driver’s insurance policy will provide third party liability coverage for your claim. The insurer is liable to pay out the actual amount of your losses arising from the accident, provided that liability against the driver is proven, and/or admitted.
Often, litigation will need to be commenced (i.e., a court action must be started) before a settlement will be reached with the third-party insurer. This is a tort claim for damages as a result of negligence of the at fault driver.
The losses that may be compensated are actual losses above and beyond the amount available under the no fault scheme, such as:
Tort law also allows for additional compensation, namely:
General damages compensate for non-pecuniary damages, such as pain and suffering. The amount awarded depends on the severity of the injury, to an absolute maximum of approximately $350,000 in the most extreme cases.
Unfortunately, there will often be some amount of disagreement with the defendant’s insurer as to which expenses are reasonably necessary, the severity of the injuries, and the actual losses incurred. By hiring a personal injury lawyer, you can expect fair compensation for your claim. It is important not to speak with anyone other than the police and your lawyer regarding the motor vehicle accident, however.
COMPENSATION IN CASES OF DEATH
No one wants to think about the possibility of dying, or a loved one passing on in a car accident, but it is important to understand how compensation is treated in such cases.
When a person dies, the amount of compensation awarded will be substantially lower than when a person survives, since there will be no requirement for the person to attend for medical treatments or rehabilitation. Similarly, no loss of income will be payable, since the person is deceased and no longer requires the money to support their continued existence.
In cases of death, family members may pursue a claim pursuant to Alberta’s Fatal Accidents Act (the “Act”). In such cases, the following types of compensation are accessible:
Family members may also have a claim against an at-fault driver for the deceased’s loss of income where it can be shown that the family member or partner was completely dependent on the deceased’s income. It is wise to speak to a personal injury lawyer to understand the likelihood of success on such a claim in each particular case.
BRAITHWAITE BOYLE - PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS IN EDMONTON, CALGARY & RED DEER, ALBERTA
The law surrounding compensation available to accident victims can be quite complex. Speaking to a personal injury lawyer in Edmonton, Calgary or Red Deer, Alberta can protect your rights and maximize compensation if you are injured or in the case of loss of a loved one. Call Braithwaite Boyle for your free initial consultation about your case at 1-800-661-4902.
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