According to the 2016 Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics report, motor vehicle crash fatalities increased by two percent during the year prior. While serious injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents did decrease during that same period, that doesn’t mean Canadian drivers don’t face hazards when they’re on the road.
If you’re involved in a car accident, no matter how minor, you are obligated to report the incident to your auto insurance provider within a set period of time. You may decide to follow up that report with an insurance claim in attempt to recover the value of damages or injuries. This is where it becomes essential to understand Canada’s no-fault benefits.
What are no-fault benefits?
In several Canadian provinces, including Ontario, drivers are mandated to carry auto insurance. It’s not surprising, therefore, that auto insurance generates the highest value of net premiums of all types of insurance sectors, accounting for more than 40 percent of the Canadian insurance market share.
Some people believe that no-fault insurance means that insurance companies (and even law enforcement) won’t blame anyone for a given accident. That’s a misconception. You or the other driver may still be held responsible for the crash, and you can also be found to be partially at fault for a traffic collision.
“No-fault” insurance benefits are there to ensure that if a driver is injured, they can still receive financial assistance from their insurer to pay for medical expenses or loss of income, regardless of who is at fault. This means that each driver can have their claim handled by their own insurance company, rather than forcing motorists to work with other insurers to receive compensation.
No-fault insurance may cover hospital visits, medical and rehabilitation expenses, medical device costs, loss of income (as a result of being unable to work post-accident), funeral costs, caregiver and maintenance benefits, and more. These policies do not cover costs associated with pain and suffering or future loss of income.
Insurance claims versus tort cases
Although this system can work for many people who are involved in crashes, it’s certainly not perfect. Unfortunately, insurance companies may have an incentive to minimize the extent of a motorist’s injuries or undervalue the damaged vehicle so that the payout is less than what that driver deserves. And while you can file for help in resolving a dispute with your auto insurer, these actions don’t always lead to a favorable outcome.
But there is good news. Some Canadian provinces (including Ontario) maintain systems that allow motorists to file a tort case against the driver responsible for the accident. A reputable car accident lawyer can help to determine whether litigation is appropriate for your case. Many Canadians find that taking advantage of both the no-fault insurance filing and a a tort filing against the at-fault driver provides them with the highest likelihood of obtaining fair compensation for their injuries and subsequent treatment.
While the no-fault benefits system was devised to provide compensation to motorists more quickly than a court case, the benefits offered may pale in comparison to what many drivers truly need and deserve. Your attorney may suggest filing a case against the other motorist(s) or might even negotiate with your insurance company to reach a fairer settlement in your favor.
Because every insured Canadian driver is affected by the no-fault benefits system, it’s essential that you understand how it could work in your favor — or against your best interests. If you’re involved in a car accident, make sure to report the incident to your insurance company and contact a lawyer about whether to proceed with an insurance claim, a tort case, or both.