Automobile accidents begin and end with a consideration of insurance. Automobile insurance in Ontario is big, big business. When you are injured by an automobile it is you against big business. Tough and experienced legal representation is required to even the playing field.
Since about 1990, Ontario has had a “no-fault” system of automobile injury compensation. Persons who are hurt receive certain immediate compensation benefits no matter who is at fault for the collision. Generally, these benefits are paid by the injured person’s own insurance company and include medical and rehabilitation benefits and a modest income replacement. More fulsome compensation is only available to injured persons who are not at fault for the occurrence of the accident.
Ontario law related to “no-fault” compensation has changed so often and become so complicated since 1990 that only experienced lawyers and their staff are able to provide appropriate advice to their clients. Top lawyers are able to assist their seriously injured clients not only with legal issues but by referral to medical and rehabilitation specialists and by pressing for funding for treatment. At Walker, Head we are ready at any time to ensure that seriously injured clients are quickly set up with at-home specialists and medical management professionals referred to as “case managers”.
There are three tiers of compensation for injured automobile accident victims. Typically, soft tissue injured victims are relegated to the MIG’s – Minor Injury Guidelines. Their fight with their insurance company is over a measly $3,500 maximum medical coverage.
The second tier of compensation is for those more seriously injured. However, this level of benefits is restricted to a meagre $50,000 regardless of how long the injury lasts or the amount of treatment that is recommended and required.
Reasonable compensation (the third tier) is reserved for those who are described as “catastrophically injured”. For example, those suffering quadriplegia, paraplegia, loss of two limbs or complete eye sight or debilitating brain injury. These victims must often engage in a complicated process (more like a fist fight) of applications for benefits from insurance companies that have long been taking their automobile premium payments and earning huge profits year-after-year. Even then, these catastrophically injured people are restricted to a life-time maximum of $1,000,000 for homecare and $1,000,000 for medical and rehabilitation benefits. A 6-year old seriously injured child is subject to the same maximum coverage as an 85-year old victim.
Very few automobile accident cases actually end up inside of a courtroom. Most of them are settled by way of negotiation or mediation. Serious cases are generally not resolved inside of four years after the collision. Serious injuries to children can take many more years than that to resolve.
Wise lawyers give their clients an opportunity to consider their settlement by way of a lump sum payment invested into a tax-free annuity referred to as a “structured settlement”. This type of investment is only available to injury victims and has two distinct advantages. First, the money is locked into an annuity contract for life and is guaranteed by at least two Ontario insurance companies. Second, the income from the annuity is not taxable.
Walker, Head has well over 35 years experience at handling all types of injury claims, most of which are related to automobile accidents. Michael Head is recognized as one of the leading lawyers in Canada in personal injury law.