When individuals suffer injuries in accidents that result from someone else’s reckless or careless behaviour, they may recover compensation.
The Canada Revenue Agency does not tax most settlements or judgements as income. The government typically considers it bad public policy to tax compensation that an accident victim received when the accident was not their fault.
Moreover, in most cases, money from a lawsuit replaces what an accident took from someone—it makes them whole, setting them in a place they would have occupied had the accident not happened. Few plaintiffs would say that a judgment or settlement left them in better shape, especially after serious accidents.
The amounts and types of monetary damages that accident victims may obtain will depend on the severity of the accident and resulting injuries, along with the pain and suffering that the accident victim endured.
As soon as possible after an accident, you should reach out to a qualified personal injury lawyer in Alberta. Your lawyer can promptly advise you whether you can file a personal injury claim for monetary damages. If so, your lawyer can help you throughout the process and work to maximize your total economic recovery.
What Types of Accidents Lead to Personal Injury Claims?
Personal injury claims and lawsuits arise when other individuals and entities behave negligently. A party is negligent when they deviate from the standard of care.
After a property accident, such as a slip and fall, you can hold property owners negligent when they failed to maintain their properties or correct defective conditions within a reasonable period. In a car accident scenario, drivers are negligent when they violate traffic laws and cause a severe crash with another vehicle or pedestrian.
If your case goes to litigation, it is typically up to a judge or jury whether the at-fault party’s actions or inactions amounted to negligence under the circumstances.
Some of the most common types of occurrences that lead to personal injury claims and lawsuits include:
- Truck accidents
- Car accidents
- Bicycle crashes
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Slip and falls that happen on premises belonging to someone else.
- Incidents that arise from negligent security, such as where a property owner fails to have the necessary security cameras—or security presence—on their property at a given time
Accidents can also happen on job sites, including building and construction sites, where workers are constantly around heavy machinery and dangerous equipment. A worker can fall off equipment, or a supervisor or contractor might fail to supervise the work site, causing an accident that leads to injuries.
A skilled personal injury lawyer in your area can determine if you have a viable claim and if so, can take the necessary legal actions on your behalf. Your lawyer can then set about helping you maximize your monetary recovery.
Serious Injuries that Accident Victims May Suffer
Car accidents and premises accidents can lead to severe injuries that require an accident victim to attend ongoing medical appointments. Depending upon the nature and extent of their injuries, they may require hospital treatment, follow-up appointments with their primary care doctor, one or more surgical procedures, or physical therapy to make a full recovery.
Even after completing treatment, some accident victims experience ongoing pain, suffering, and inconvenience, all of which are compensable as part of a personal injury claim or a lawsuit.
Some of the most common injuries that car and premises accident victims suffer include soft tissue damage, internal organ injuries, spinal cord injuries, full or partial paralysis, traumatic head and brain injuries, broken bones, rib fractures, road rash injuries, bruises, lacerations, and crush injuries.
The best way to safeguard your right to monetary compensation after an accident, and to ensure that your injuries do not become worse, is to seek same-day medical treatment at a local hospital emergency room. While you are there, the responding physician can order X-rays and MRIs to diagnose your medical condition accurately.
Soon after seeking early medical intervention, you should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area who can begin advocating for you and handling the legal components of your claim.
How to Pursue a Monetary Settlement
The first step to pursuing a monetary settlement in your case is for a personal injury lawyer to file a claim on your behalf. In many car accident and premises accident scenarios, a personal injury lawyer may file this claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
However, if you sustained injuries in a car accident and the at-fault driver did not have any insurance, you can pursue an uninsured motorist (UM) claim with your own insurance carrier or turn to Alberta’s Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program for up to $200,000 in monetary compensation for your accident. Similarly, if the at-fault driver lacked sufficient insurance coverage to compensate you for all of your injuries and damages, you can pursue an underinsured motorist (UIM) claim with your own insurance carrier, assuming you have the proper coverage in place.
Regardless of the insurance company involved, a personal injury claim proceeds in much the same way.
First, your lawyer will need to gather up important documents in your case, including:
- Copies of the police report or incident report that describes how your accident happened
- Hospitalization and medical treatment records from your healthcare providers
- Lost wage documents from your employer
- Witness statements about what witnesses observed firsthand during the incident
- Security camera footage that shows the incident in progress
- A victim statement or personal statement that you prepare about the effects the accident had on your life and overall well-being
Once your lawyer obtains these documents, they will submit them to the appropriate insurance company, and an adjuster from the insurance company’s bodily injury team will begin handling your case. That adjuster will then determine whether or not they will accept fault—or liability—for the occurrence.
If the insurance company denies liability in your case, you can threaten them with litigation against the at-fault party. That step alone may convince them to at least make a settlement offer in your case. If the insurance company accepts fault for your accident, your lawyer may begin negotiating a settlement offer with the adjuster assigned to your claim.
The negotiation process in a personal injury claim can sometimes take many weeks or months. The length of time it takes will depend upon the insurance company and the adjuster with whom you are dealing. In many situations, the insurance company’s first offer is far below the actual value of the case. Therefore, your lawyer may need to negotiate with the insurance company several times before the adjuster will increase their offer appropriately.
If that ultimately happens and you decide to accept a particular settlement offer, the case will end, and litigation will not be necessary. However, if the insurance company refuses to compensate you appropriately for your injuries, your lawyer will need to file a lawsuit in court and begin litigating your case through the system.
How Will a Settlement Compensate Me in My Personal Injury Claim or Lawsuit?
Before you accept a monetary settlement as compensation in your personal injury claim or lawsuit, you should make sure that the settlement fairly and fully compensates you for all of your losses and damages. Since every personal injury case is different, the monetary damages that one accident victim recovers will likely differ from those another accident victim receives.
First, if an accident victim had to miss time from work to seek medical treatment, they can bring a claim for lost wages. To prove a lost wage claim, an accident victim will typically need to submit documentation from their employer that shows the total amount of money they lost and the number of days they missed following their accident. In addition, they may need to supply medical documentation in which a healthcare provider authorized them to be off work for a certain period of time after their accident.
In addition to lost wage compensation, some accident victims can recover monetary damages for their loss of earning capacity. These damages are available when accident victims must take a pay cut and switch jobs due to the injuries they suffered in their accidents. For example, if a person works in the construction or building industry, their injuries might prevent them from lifting or pulling heavy objects. Consequently, they might need to switch to light-duty work after their accident and take a pay cut as a result.
Accident victims can also pursue monetary recovery for their pain, suffering, and inconvenience. Two types of pain and suffering damages are often available. First, accident victims can recover monetary damages for their past pain and suffering from the date of the accident up until the present time.
Additionally, they can recover financial compensation for anticipated pain and suffering if a medical provider determines that they suffered a permanent injury—and predicts that they will experience ongoing symptoms. In severe accident cases, a victim may have to endure painful symptoms for the rest of their life.
Accident victims can also pursue economic recovery for loss of life enjoyment following their accident, as well as for loss of their ability to use one or more body parts. For example, if an accident victim suffers a spinal cord or permanent paralysis injury, they may lose the use of certain body parts, and they may also experience limited feeling in those body parts.
You can recover compensation for those losses. Finally, an accident victim can pursue monetary recovery for loss of spousal companionship or consortium due to their injuries.
A skilled personal injury lawyer in your area can determine which of these damages you may be eligible to recover as part of your claim or a lawsuit. Your lawyer can then set about maximizing your monetary compensation and helping you achieve the highest settlement, jury verdict, or binding arbitration award possible in your case.
How Long Does a Personal Injury Settlement Take?
Every personal injury case is different, and some cases are more complex than others. In some situations, an accident victim’s lawyer or the insurance company may need to retain an accident reconstructionist to shed light on how the accident happened and who caused it. These investigations can take a significant amount of time.
Moreover, settlements are delayed in some accident cases because it takes a long time for the accident victim to finish all of their medical treatment. Similarly, insurance companies and their adjusters sometimes drag their feet and are not in a hurry to resolve a personal injury claim through settlement.
Expedite your personal injury claim or lawsuit by retaining a skilled personal injury lawyer to represent you from the very beginning. Your lawyer will take the necessary steps to file your claim or lawsuit in a timely manner and will work efficiently to pursue your case through settlement or litigation.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Your Area Today
In all personal injury claims and lawsuits, time is of the essence. To ensure that memories remain fresh and witnesses remain available, Alberta utilizes a two-year statute of limitations in personal injury cases. This means that accident victims must file their claim or lawsuit within two years of their accident date.
If they fail to take the necessary legal steps and file their lawsuit in a timely manner, the court will prevent them from recovering monetary damages for any of their injuries. Moreover, if they attempt to file a lawsuit in the court system, the court will immediately dismiss it.
To ensure that you do not jeopardize your right to recover monetary damages, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer in Edmonton as quickly as possible. Your lawyer will have the knowledge and skills necessary to properly investigate your accident scenario and file a timely claim or lawsuit on your behalf.
During settlement negotiations, when insurance companies and their adjusters become difficult, your lawyer will aggressively fight for your right to the monetary compensation you need. Finally, if the insurance company denies liability in your case or fails to offer you the compensation you deserve, your lawyer can litigate your case and represent you at all scheduled court hearings.