Demystifying Personal Injury Claims

In the digital information age, separating fact from fiction can be daunting, mainly concerning personal injury claims. Misconceptions abound, leaving individuals uncertain about their rights and options after an accident. In this comprehensive guide, we debunk common myths and provide clarity on navigating Alberta’s personal injury claims process.
Five of the most common myths and misconceptions about personal injury are outlined below.

1. Myth: Personal injury claims are worth millions.

Reality: Personal injury claims are capped and rarely exceed seven figures.

In 1978, the Supreme Court of Canada imposed a limit on compensation for pain and suffering of $100,000. The cap is adjusted annually to account for inflation and is now $383,571.

However, the cap amount is typically only awarded in cases where an individual is severely injured. For example, the total cap amount is applied in cases where an individual is rendered quadriplegic.

After the cap was imposed, settlement amounts lowered significantly and now very few cases exceed one million dollars.

It is important to note that the cap only applies to pain and suffering. More money may be awarded for other damages like future cost of care, loss of income, and out-of-pocket expenses, to name a few.

2. Myth: Soft tissue injuries are always capped

Reality: Not all soft tissue injuries are capped.

The compensation that can be claimed for pain and suffering from soft tissue injuries is limited by a cap. In Alberta, the Minor Injury Regulation imposes a cap amount of $5,202 for soft tissue injuries. While a cap is placed on soft tissue injuries, this does not mean that all soft tissue injuries are capped.

A soft tissue injury may not be capped if it:

  • When a person experiences a significant inability to perform regular daily activities or job and educational tasks.
  • If the issue has not been resolved within three to six months of the accident
  • It is not expected to improve substantially

Further, the cap only applies to damages for pain and suffering. Other heads of damages, such as loss of income, loss of housekeeping, and future cost of care, are not subject to the cap amount.

3. Myth: All personal injury claims are drawn out and go to trial.

Reality: Most personal injury cases are settled outside of the court process.

It is important to note that only a tiny fraction of personal injury cases go to trial. Approximately 98% of civil suits are settled before they make it to court. In most cases, the plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer and the insurance company will negotiate a settlement within two years from the date of the accident.

The time it takes for a personal injury claim to be resolved can vary depending on several factors. Some of these factors include the extent of the injuries sustained, how quickly the individual recovers or can resume their daily activities, and whether or not there is a dispute over liability.

When there is a dispute over who is at fault for the accident, or the settlement amount is expected to be significant, the case may go to trial. However, even in these situations, there are several stages before the actual trial where the parties can settle. Before a trial occurs, the personal injury claim goes through the pleadings and discovery stages, and a settlement can be negotiated at any point during these stages before the case is heard in front of a judge.

4. Myth: The individual sued must pay out of pocket.

Reality: Typically, the liable party’s insurance company pays the settlement.

Although the at-fault party is usually directly sued for their wrongdoing, it does not necessarily mean that they pay for the settlement amount out of pocket. In Alberta, drivers must have a minimum of $200,000 in third-party liability coverage. Third-party liability coverage protects individuals who are found to be at fault for another individual’s injuries. The at-fault party’s insurance company will step in and generally cover the settlement’s costs.

While it is mandatory to carry third-party liability coverage, there may be instances where an uninsured driver or an unknown driver injures an individual. In these situations, the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program will provide insurance coverage to a maximum combined payment of $200,000 per accident. The Motor Vehicle Accident Fund was created to ensure individuals are still compensated for their injuries regardless of whether the at-fault party has third-party liability coverage.

The Motor Vehicle Accident Recoveries can recover the amount paid from the at-fault party. In this situation, the at-fault party is personally responsible for repaying the debt owed.

5. Myth: Vehicle Damage Reflects Injury Severity

Reality: Vehicle damage does not necessarily determine the severity of injury.

What may initially seem like a minor fender bender collision can result in serious injuries. Individuals involved in a minor collision may not experience any pain until weeks or months after the crash. Pain following a collision should not be ignored under the pretense that it was a minor collision.

Alternatively, individuals can suffer minor injuries in serious accidents. The extent of damage done to the vehicle does not always determine the severity of the injuries that result from the collision.

6. Myth: You can’t change lawyers.

Reality: It is important to note that individuals have the legal right to choose their own legal representation.

This means that they have the freedom to select a lawyer who they believe will best represent their interests and provide the best possible outcome for their claim. It is also worth noting that if an individual feels that their current lawyer is not providing them with the representation they need, they can change lawyers as needed. This ensures that the individual has the best possible chance of success in their claim. It is important to carefully evaluate your options and choose a lawyer who has the experience and expertise to provide the representation you require.

7. Myth: You can’t get a lawyer once you’ve started talking to an adjuster.

Reality: At any stage of a legal claim, individuals have the right to seek assistance from a qualified and experienced lawyer.

Hiring a lawyer can provide a range of benefits, such as ensuring that all necessary legal procedures are followed, helping to gather and present evidence, and advocating for the individual’s rights and interests throughout the claims process. With a lawyer’s help, individuals can navigate the often complex and intimidating legal system with greater confidence and peace of mind, knowing that their case is being handled by a professional who understands the law and has their best interests at heart.

8. Myth: Hiring an injury lawyer is too expensive.

Reality: It’s important to know that most personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations and work on a contingency fee basis.

This means that you can have access to legal representation without any upfront costs. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of this opportunity to ensure that your rights are protected. Remember, you deserve fair compensation for your injuries and you shouldn’t have to face this alone.

Moustarah & Company can answer any questions or clear any misconceptions you may have about personal injury law in Edmonton. Our personal injury lawyers will thoroughly explain and help guide you through the claims process.

The information provided on this website does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. Moustarah & Company does not guarantee that this information is accurate or up to date. As a result, should you require legal advice, please contact a personal injury lawyer.