If you settle too quickly, you may regret it
We often receive calls from clients or others who handle their own claims, very eager to have their personal injury accident claims resolved for a fast cash settlement. Sometimes our advice is to encourage them to persevere…the timing has to be right.
wait until your injuries are known
The severity of many injuries is often unknown for months or even years. For example, we have a 40 year old client “Sophie” who is recovering from initial neck and back injuries but still has some pain in her knees. Knee pain cannot be diagnosed. She was told it was a sprain and strain. The insurer’s doctor said she had a rare birth defect that was causing her pain and was completely unrelated to her accident. At first glance, it seemed that it was time to calm down, because most of the injuries from the car accident had healed.
Fortunately, doctors finally took the time to perform more important diagnostic tests on Sophie’s knee, which revealed a damaged meniscus requiring surgery. We are 3 times more likely to resolve the claim if we address the issue before we get a diagnosis.
Are you back working at full speed?
If you didn’t return to work after your injury, or worked fewer hours than you did before the accident, you should never make a claim unless you’re sure you’ve achieved maximum medical recovery. (We call it MMR). In Ontario, where damages for pain and suffering are capped, income loss claims typically form the largest component of settlements. How will you calculate your lost income if you don’t know your ultimate medical prognosis? when are you going back to work When are you coming back full time? All these questions will remain unanswered. As you can probably guess, insurance companies are unlikely to make assumptions that will increase your claim amount.
Reduce the financial burden by maximizing your statutory accident benefits
Our personal injury clients sometimes get impatient with cases moving slowly, especially when they are struggling financially at the same time. Of course, we can understand that feeling, but we also know that a little more time, even an extra year, can make a really significant difference in the number of settlements.
One important role an attorney can play for you is overseeing your accident benefit claim while you wait for the time to settle your claim. After a car accident in Ontario, you are entitled to statutory accident benefits in most cases. If you are eligible, these benefits will cover your medical and rehabilitation expenses, visitation expenses, nursing care and housekeeping expenses, just to name a few of the available benefits.
In addition, Accident Benefit provides a weekly amount as income replacement, care costs or non-earner allowance. These benefits are not a fortune. For many families, however, these amounts ease the financial burden of the accident, making it possible to “hold on” until the claim is resolved.
In most cases, having an attorney oversee your accident damages while working on your at-fault driver compensation claim will help you ensure you get the most out of those damages while other cases are ongoing. If you’re handling the case yourself, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your accident benefits.
The following are examples of the importance of paying attention to your accident benefit rights. In the spring of 2008, our law firm was contacted by the daughter of Claudio, an 82-year-old retired bricklayer who had been injured in a car accident 10 months earlier. Claudio doesn’t speak English. Although he notified his insurance company of the accident and they processed his property damage claim, the insurance company never sent him information about his accident benefits. It wasn’t until the daughters mentioned their father’s struggles at home since the accident that the GP was alerted to his accident allowance.
His family filed the form, but still felt their father wasn’t getting all the benefits he needed.
When our firm audited Claudio’s accident benefit files, we discovered that he was owed $49,000 in arrears plus interest. A letter from my company and all dues were paid and Claudio’s weekly and monthly payments started.
In other words, rushing to resolve your workers’ injury claim is often not worth the trouble. This is true whether you hire a personal injury attorney or handle the case yourself.Take the time to build a case and understand your injury
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