MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS

Motor vehicle accidents are among the most common forms of personal injury claims statistically. Collisions between cars and pedestrians, cars and cyclists, or between cars and motorcycles are some of the most serious injury causing events Ontarians face. As the costs associated with transportation and insurance are the highest in Ontario, many people have turned to more efficient methods of transportation. Consequently, micro cars, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians and e-bikes are placed into harms way and up against large commercial trucks and large SUV’s weighing thousands of pounds. The effects of these types of collisions are objectively devastating and result in severe injuries, fractures, brain injuries, wage loss, and sometimes paraplegia.

More common are motor vehicle accidents between cars and trucks of similar size and weight. However, these types of collisions are just as capable of causing significant injuries. Snow squalls, white-out conditions, high speed accidents, and rear-end collisions are unique events capable of causing permanent and serious impairments. Insurance companies frequently argue that these types of collisions are capable of causing minor injuries, only. Injuries of a soft-tissue nature or whiplash related injuries. The truth of the matter could not be further.

Orthopaedic injuries, such as fractures, muscle/cartilage tearing and tendon and ligament sprains/strains are quite capable of significant impairment under certain circumstances. An orthopaedic injury to a construction worker’s leg is devastating as it removes their ability to work for a certain period, while it may not affect an office administrator in the same fashion. Likewise, tendon and ligament damage to a surgeon’s hand would likely result in forced early retirement, but not likely to have such a serious impairment for a high school teacher.

Concussions however are defined as traumatic brain injuries, on a scale from minor to moderate and severe, depending on medical radiology, symptoms and functional loss. Brain injuries are underestimated and not well litigated because they are sometimes fueled by subjective complaints. Headaches, dizziness, light sensitivity, ataxia, vision/focusing difficulties, imbalance, tinnitus and vertigo effect each person differently. A concussion may be minor-moderate in nature, but the lasting effects could become post-traumatic. An MRI or a CT scan may not reveal objective brain matter damage, however that does not mean the injured person is asymptomatic and able to return to their pre-accident activities of daily living, work and housekeeping and home maintenance obligations.

Each motor vehicle accident claim is unique. The property damage, injuries, impairments and losses are based on each particular set of material facts and the evidence. Lemieux Law is certified as a specialist in personal injury motor vehicle accident claims by the Law Society of Ontario. That means we have a proven track record of knowledge, experience and skill to advance your claim to its best possible outcome.

At trial, a jury is not advised of several ‘legislative-discount’ factors calculated and reduced from damages the jury awards. For example, if the jury awards a general damages number roughly below $137,500 +/- the general damages number is automatically reduced by roughly $43,500 +/-. That is referred to as the ‘statutory deductible’. Moreover, if the jury awards an amount less than $43,500, the statutory deductible would reduce the general damage claim to zero. There is also something called the ‘threshold’. Even if a jury awards $85,000 for general damages, the insurer can ask the court to determine whether the injured person meets the threshold of both serious and permanent impairment. If not, the general damages award is reduced to zero, the claim for future care is reduced to zero and so is the claim for house keeping.

Sometimes the at-fault driver’s insurer will ask for a discount from the trial judge after the jury’s verdict for benefits payable from the injured parties statutory accident benefits insurer. That has the effect of reducing damages across all ranges significantly. These are built-in legislative discounts lobbied for by the insurance borough of Canada. Wage loss is limited to 70% of the net amount (after tax amount) and reduced by the income replacement benefit offered by your own insurer. ODSP, CPP-Disability, Ontario Works and private insurance benefits all reduce these damages across all ranges. Interestingly, all of these discounts do not occur in non-motor vehicle accident claims.

Statutory accident benefits in Ontario have recently been reduced, significantly. Housekeeping is no longer available. Attendant care and medical/rehabilitation benefits have been reduced and amalgamated. The definition and requirements to obtain additional coverage for injured claimants regarding catastrophic impairment has been sharply narrowed. Non-earner benefits have been reduced to an annual maximum and no longer payable for an injured person’s life. Injured claimants can no longer litigate denials for benefits but are forced to attend the License Appeal Tribunal in hopes of appealing the decision, where costs are not awarded against an unreasonable insurer. The cause and effect that occurs is that claims against the at-fault driver are capable of piercing the 1-million-dollar coverage limits more than ever. Should that happen, the at-fault driver is exposed personally to the damages above and beyond the policy and must sue their insurer.

In face of these efforts to reduce the potential coverage and damages available to injured claimants in car accidents, our insurance premiums are still the highest in Canada. Should you be injured in a motor vehicle accident, we urge you to consult with us to obtain the best possible outcome.

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If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call Lemieux Litigation today for fair, dedicated and affordable representation.

We’re on your side.