Isabelle was driving her kids to daycare when the unthinkable happened. Just as her light turned green and her minivan started into the intersection, another driver ran the red light at top speed and slammed into the driver's side of Isabelle's car.
Thankfully, the kid's car seats protected them from serious injury. They had a few red marks and bruises, but the family doctor said they were fine. Isabelle was another story. She suffered whiplash, missed a few days of work, and has had headache and neck pain ever since the accident. She has a rental while her van is being repaired, but she's too nervous to drive anywhere with the kids.
The other driver's insurance company has offered her a $5000 settlement. She's under some pressure to settle quickly. Some friends and family members are encouraging her to take the money, while others have suggested she hire an insurance claim lawyer and sue. Isabelle just wants to put the whole incident behind her. What is her best course of action?
Ottawa lawyers remind you that it is always in the insurance company's interest to settle quickly and for a low amount─ that's how they stay in business. Isabelle could take the money, and still be entitled to income replacement benefits if she lost work days due to her injuries, or extra coverage for physical therapy. Under Ontario's no-fault insurance structure, Isabelle would apply for accident benefits from her own insurance company first. Insurance claim lawyers advise clients to start with their insurance company because all Ontario auto insurance policies cover medical treatment and rehabilitation. The benefits you can access depend on a number of factors, like how serious your injuries are, and their impact on your day-to-day life.
It is possible to sue the at-fault driver (even in a no-fault system) for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and financial losses not covered by your insurance. There is a time limit, though, so if you think you might want to go this route, Ottawa lawyers recommend that you quickly consult with an insurance claim lawyer. There are various thresholds that you must meet in order to be able to proceed with a pain and suffering claim, and of course there will be lots of paperwork for you, your doctor, and your employer to complete.
So what about Isabelle? Should she hire an insurance claim lawyer? Yes, if she needs help navigating the system and she is not certain that she will receive a fair settlement. No, if she's happy with the $5000, reasonably sure she won't have long-term trouble with her injuries, and if she just wants to move on. It's a very personal decision, but Ottawa lawyer's advice to call an insurance claim lawyer for guidance doesn't obligate you to a long-term relationship. If you're unsure of the best course of action, it's fine to call and ask for help on how to proceed.