Is drug impaired driving treated the same as alcohol impaired driving?

Drug Impaired Driving

The recent release of the McClelland task force report on marijuana legalization in Canada has raised some serious concerns for public safety; in particular drug impaired driving . Drug-impaired driving is a major concern as the legalization of the substance becomes a reality in our country and, moving forward, there is a lot to be done to ensure the safety of drivers on the road In November, a CAA poll found 63 per cent of Canadians worry that road safety will decline when marijuana is legalized.

Public Education Needed for Drug Impaired Driving

Currently, Ontario drivers impaired by drug use face fines of up to $180 and a licence suspension for the first occurrence. These new laws were implemented in October to give police more leverage to get impaired drivers off the roads immediately. This is a sound start and sends a strong message, but, to ensure the safety of Ontario drivers, there needs to be a drastic increase public education and improvement in the available tools that police have to detect impairment.

Marijuana is not easy to detect using a simple breathalyzer test. To detect THC, urine tests, which are often unreliable, or invasive blood tests remain the only available tools. To complicate the issue, Canada has not established a legal limit of THC content in drivers.

Last year, police in Canada charged only 1,575 people with drug-impaired driving, compared to 50,853 for suspected drinking and driving.  *(statistics Canada)

According to a study conducted by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, marijuana impairs the cognitive and motor abilities necessary to operate a motor vehicle and doubles the risk of crash involvement, placing everyone else on the road at risk of serious injury or death.

If you have been injured by a drug-impaired driver, your claim for compensation may include:

* Income Replacement Benefits

* Non-Earner Benefits

* Caregiver Benefits

* Housekeeping and Home Maintenance Benefits

* Attendant Care Benefits

* Medical and Rehabilitation Benefits

 

Drinking and driving don’t mix. Drugs and driving don’t mix. PERIOD. 

 


Changes to Accident Benefits Harmful to Catastrophic Injury.

Understanding your Accident Benefits Following Changes to the Ontario Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule accident insurance claims

Catastrophic Injury Victim Beware ! In an effort to make insurance more affordable for all Ontarians, the Ministry of Transportation made some large scale changes to accident benefits coverage last June. These changes have reduced, changed and, in some cases, eliminated coverage.   In particular those impacted by a catastrophic injury are most at risk.

As many drivers do not regularly review the their policies, they may not be aware of the impact of the new lowered benefits.  Many will find out only when an accident happens.  Then it is too late.   

Want to be covered in the event of a catastrophic injury ? Always best to check with your insurance company

Our Ottawa injury lawyers wrote about the changes when the new legislation took effect.  At that time, we encouraged readers to make a thorough review of their existing policies and encouraged them to purchase additional coverage. 

Our lawyers have received many questions about Insurance coverage since the changes took effect in June.  While the outlines provided by the Ministry give a fair rundown of what is covered and what is not covered under the new standard policy, many drivers remain confused about the definition of catastrophic injuries.  The term catastrophic determines the type of benefit available, but its definition is not clear in the material provided with the standard insurance policy.   

What is considered a catastrophic injury ?

If an injury will have a lifelong impact on the victim’s quality of life, it can be deemed catastrophic.  If the victim is left a paraplegic or quadriplegic or requires the amputation of an arm or leg, if the injury causes serious traumatic brain injury or if the victim suffers loss of vision the injury would most likely be classified as a catastrophic injury.   Sadly, people with these catastrophic injuries are the ones who need insurance coverage the most and now, with the changes, they are losing many of their accident benefits. 

Once someone’s impairments are considered a catastrophic injury the victim may be eligible for the additional benefits including:   

  • $1,000,000.00 for Medical Rehabilitation and Attendant Care combined  (up to $6,000 per month) 
  • Housekeeping  (up to $100 per week for life) 
  • Income Replacement Benefit  (to a max of $400 per week for life) 
  • Non-Earner Benefit (up to 104 weeks after the accident up to $185 per week) 
  • Visitor Expenses 
  • Entitlement to a Case Manager 
  • Lost Educational Expenses  (up to $15,000)  
  • Payment for clothing, prescription eyewear, dentures, hearing aids, prosthetics and other medical or dental devices damaged as a result of the car accident 
  • Reimbursement for travel to and from medical appointments 
  • Caregiver Benefits 

These definitions may be difficult to interpret and it is always advisable to consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after a serious accident.   


Changes to Accident Benefits will can hurt those who need it most.

Changes to Accident Benefits Means Reduction in Coverage for Ontario Drivers

Do you know about the changes to accident benefits? When accidents happen, we expect that our health care system will be there to provide only the best care to see us through, but what about all of the other expenses that are not covered under the Ontario Healthcare System?  Few of us stop to consider who will pay for replacement income if we cannot work, childcare as we recuperate, rehabilitation and home maintenance?  Are these expenses automatically covered by our insurance policies?    Yes, they are and they fall under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule.

New Changes to Accident Benefits: Will you be covered?

Statutory Accident Benefits apply to anyone involved in a car accident, bicycle accident, motorcycle accident, pedestrian & car accident and any other type of motor vehicle accident.  These benefits fall under the Insurance Act of Ontario and apply to:

  • Income Replacement BenefitsDriver
  • Non-Earner Benefits
  • Caregiver Benefits
  • Housekeeping and Home Maintenance Benefits
  • Attendant Care Benefits
  • Medical and Rehabilitation Benefits

Will you have enough coverage?

On June 1, 2016, the changes to accident benefits and coverage in standard auto insurance policies was implemented to help make insurance more affordable.  Some claim amounts were reduced and some options for increased coverage were eliminated or changed.

This is an overview of the changes to accident benefits.

  • Medical & Rehabilitation and Attendant Care benefits have been combined into one category.
  • Persons with catastrophic injuries may be entitled to a maximum combined benefit of up to $1,000,000 over their lifetime. This has been reduced from $2,000,000.
  • Persons with non-catastrophic injuries may be entitled to a maximum combined benefit of up to $65,000 over 5 years reduced from $50,000 over 10 years for Medical, Rehabilitation and $36,000 for Attendant Care over 2 years.
  • Persons with minor injuries may be entitled to a maximum benefit of $3,500. The claim period has been reduced from 10 years to 5 years.

In order to meet the definition of catastrophic for car accident cases in Ontario, a licensed doctor must complete and submit an OCF-19 form. This form is called an Application for Determination of Catastrophic Impairment.  Given that the Statutory Accident Benefit amount vary greatly depending on which category the victim may fall under, it is important to learn more about the difference between catastrophic injury accident benefits and non-catastrophic injury accident benefits .

 

Should you purchase additional coverage?

In addition to these changes came the opportunity to purchase Optional Benefits for Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care.  You may want to purchase optional benefits to increase coverage levels, but first take time to understand your existing plan and impact the of the new changes.

  • Read your policy and compare it to the new policy to see what changes have been made. If you have benefits from your employer or another policy, you may already have some level of coverage for some or all of the changes made. You should consider these benefits as you review your coverage options.
  • Understand your policy. Call your insurance representative and ask questions, or do some additional reading, to make sure you understand your insurance and what your coverage means.  Make sure you know what options are available to increase or purchase other benefits, or to reduce premiums by increasing deductibles or taking advantage of discounts.
  • Shop around. There are many insurance companies competing on price and service in Ontario, and you should make sure that you compare at least three quotes for the same coverage before making a decision.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it’s important you get the information you need. Ontario Accident Benefits are your benefits and benefits you are most likely entitled to. If you are unsure of your rights or what benefits you are entitled to, contact our personal injury lawyers and we will be happy to provide you with the information you need to get the benefits you deserve.


Out of Province Accident? Will you need to hire a local personal injury lawyer ?

Out of Province Accident? Will you need to hire a local personal injury lawyer ?

Our Ottawa injury lawyers often receive calls from Ontario residents who were travelling and got into an out of province outofprovinceaccidentaccident. The question then becomes do I need to hire an Ontario personal injury lawyer or a lawyer from the province or country where I was injured? For instance, many people who live in Quebec work in Ontario and driver regularly in Ontario. What happens when they get into an accident in Ottawa but they have Quebec insurance?

The answer is somewhat complicated for an out of province accident. The truth is a personal injury lawyer should be able to help you no matter what.  In most cases you can hire a lawyer in the province that you reside in and are insured with; however, in other cases in order to make a claim in the province where you reside and not where the accident took place, you must be able to prove a connection between the jurisdiction and your claim and this claim must also be deemed fair for the defendant. There are many factors that would help determine whether or not a personal injury lawyer from let’s say Ontario can represent you and file a claim on your behalf. Depending on the severity of your injuries, the courts may recognize that travelling to another jurisdiction may be very difficult for you and allow the claim to be filed in Ontario. Depending on the nature of the accident; were there many witnesses that may need to be called upon. Do they live in another country?  Will expert reports need to be created in the country or province where the accident took place?  Will the police officers that filed the report need to be called in to testify? How will travelling to another country or province affect them? Are there any rules between the two provinces or countries that differ?

The reality is that the courts take many things into consideration when deciding whether or not Ontario should assume jurisdiction in an out of province accident.

It’s also important to note that regardless where you reside or where the accident occurred, the other party in the accident may still may have insurance coverage that covers accidents in Ontario. If you are unsure , it’s always best to consult with an experience Ontario personal injury lawyer and have them walk you through your options.

If it is determined that it’s not best for you to proceed with a claim in Ontario,  a personal injury lawyer can refer you to a lawyer in the jurisdiction where the accident took place and help ensure you are in good hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ontario Accident Benefits – Who is eligible ?

Are you eligible for Ontario Accident Benefits?bicycleaccidentbenefits

What are Accident Benefits ? Have you been in accident? Are you wondering what your options are? In most cases if you reside in Ontario you may be entitled to Accident Benefits. The Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, otherwise known as SABS is the provincial regulation of benefits. These are standardized benefits that all insurance companies in Ontario provide. The role of Accident Benefits is to provide insurance compensation, regardless of fault, if you, your passengers, or if you are a pedestrian and have suffered a serious injury in an accident. Depending on the nature of the accident and the extent of the injuries, certain relatives or dependents may also qualify, even if they were not directly involved in the accident. You may also qualify for accident benefits if you were not directly involved in an accident but are suffering from psychological and mental strains of injured relatives.

Not everyone is entitled to Ontario Accident Benefits. You may apply for Accident Benefits and your insurance company and may deny your coverage. You can appeal this decision and fight it. An experienced personal injury lawyer can assist with this type of appeal and will work towards getting you maximum compensation and the benefits you need.

Who is excluded from Ontario Accident Benefits?

An insurance company may deny Income Replacement Benefits, Non-earner Benefits and compensation for other expenses benefits to:
• a driver who was excluded from an insurance policy,
• a driver or passengers who were aware, or should have been aware that the vehicle was driven without the owner of the vehicle’s consent,
• anyone who made false misrepresentation to their insurance company , resulting in automobile insurance being provided, and
• anyone who at the time of the accident was involved in an act for which he or she is convicted of any criminal offence, regardless of whether or not the offence is related to the operation of a vehicle,
• a driver who knew, or out to have known, that they were driving without a valid insurance.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it’s important you get informed. Ontario Accident Benefits are your benefits and benefits you are most likely entitled to. If you are unsure of your rights or what benefits you are entitled to, contact our personal injury lawyers and we would be happy to provide you with what benefits you are entitled to and give you an idea of what type of compensation you can expect


What Ontario drivers need to know about LAT? License Appeals Tribunal

Ottawa Injury Lawyers provide a brief summary of some of the most important upcoming changes to Ontario Accident Benefits and the License Appeals Tribunal (LAT).LAT tribunal

Ontario drivers and residents will continue to see an erosion in insurance coverage and Accident Benefits. Here is what you need to know:

As of April 1, 2016, accident benefit arbitration applications are to be sent to the Licence Appeals Tribunal (“the LAT”) instead of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO). Further changes were made in relation to Ontario’s Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) for accidents that occur on or after June 1, 2016 which include the following:
·         Catastrophic limits changed to $1 million combined for medical/rehabilitation and Attendant Care (reduced from $2 million to $1 million)
·         Medical/rehabilitation and Attendant Care benefits for non-Catastrophic injuries are to be combined totaling $65,000 (reduced from $86,000 to $65,000)
·         Medical/rehabilitation benefits for non-Catastrophic injuries limited to 5 years instead of 10 years
·         The 6 month waiting period for non-earner benefits is eliminated, but the non-earner benefits will only be available for 2 years
·         An update to the ‘catastrophic impairment’ definition consistent with more up-to-date medical information and knowledge to reflect modern medicine

LAT Dispute Resolution System 

The Ontario Government maintains that the new LAT dispute resolution system is more streamlined than its predecessor. Additionally, FSCO mandatory mediations have been eliminated, and applicants are now expected to apply for arbitration as soon as a benefit is denied or terminated. The arbitration process will be as follows:
·         Applicant will file Arbitration with LAT via a new form.
·         The insurer will file a response and a case conference will be scheduled.
·         Prior to the case conference each respective party will file a case conference brief/summary.
·         A case conference will then take place. This will be similar to the FSCO pre-hearing.
·         If the matter doesn’t settle, a hearing will occur by way of written, electronic, or in person hearings.
·         Appeal – either party may request the Chair to reconsider the matter. Or, the matter can be appealed to the Divisional Court.
 
The transition to LAT from FSCO is not going to be easy. We are expecting backlogs. Moreover, the majority of FSCO mediators who developed an expertise in this very specific area of law did not transfer over to the LAT. In other words, knowledge and expertise will be lost in the transition. Further, appealing to the Divisional Court may be a difficult hurdle for applicants since courts are often hesitant to overturn arbitrators. With all that being said, it appears as though applicants suffering from catastrophic impairments will be impacted the most by this legislation.  


Accident benefits ? Which insurance company ?

Accident Benefits: Whose insurance company do I use ? accident insurance claims

If you have been injured in a accident , navigating the insurance process can be tricky. There are many variables that will help determine which insurance company you will be applying to for accident benefits. In Ontario, there are strict timelines for applying for Accident Benefits, and it is important that you report your accident in a timely manner. There are exceptions; however, if you don’t file an accident report within seven days of your accident, you can be denied accident benefits coverage. Once you have reported your accident and requested an accident benefits package, it is important that you take your time and properly fill out the included OCF forms and return the completed package with thirty days .  Our Ottawa injury lawyers like to help our clients with this task. We want to ensure that no stone is unturned and that our clients do not put themselves at risk  of possible being denied coverage because of a small mistake that was made on their OCF forms. We often will remove this stress from our clients and fill our the accident benefits package with them.

Sound simple enough ? Well, not quite. Determining which insurance company you should submit your application package to also needs to be determined. In most accidents,  there are multiple insurance companies involved in an accident claim and it’s imperative the the accident benefits package is returned to the appropriate insurance company.

A few determining factors when applying for Accident Benefits:

Do you have your own insurance coverage ?  If you do, then the package should be returned to your own insurance company.

Are covered by someone else’s insurance policy ?  Are you covered under your parent’s insurance policy or maybe your wife’s ? The accident benefits package package needs to go to whomever’s insurance policy you are covered under.

Were you a passenger in a vehicle and don’t have insurance coverage? If this is the case, then the accident benefits package will be returned to the owner of the vehicle’s insurance company.

Were you a pedestrian and do not have insurance? Then the accident benefits package must be returned to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Were a passenger in the vehicle of an uninsured driver? Then you must make an application to the Motor Vehicle Insurance Claims Fund. This is a fund that is designed to help people who would otherwise not be covered under insurance. To learn more about this fund, click here.

Were you a pedestrian who was hit by an uninsured driver? Then you must make an application to the Motor Vehicle Insurance Claims Fund. This is a fund that is designed to help people who would otherwise not be covered under insurance.

Regardless of your situation, it is advisable that you contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who is familiar with personal injury law in Ontario to discuss your situation. Our Ottawa injury lawyers would be happy to help and we offer free consultations.


Liability: Can multiple insurance company policies be liable for one accident?

Ottawa Injury Lawyer David Hollingsworth discusses liability in Lawyers Weekly

lawyers weekly

David Hollingsworth was recently featured in Lawyer’s Weekly,  where he discussed joint and several liability.  Specifically the article mentioned what can happen when a person is injured by multiple parties.  What most people don’t know is that when someone is injured by multiple parties, there may also be multiple insurance policies that can provide compensation.

In particular, David highlighted a recent tragic accident that resulted in catastrophic injuries and death. The case highlighted the importance of joint and several liability. The Negligence Act was set up for situations such as this recent tragic accident. In this case, there were multiple people and families that needed compensation. Sadly, there were limitations on the at-fault driver’s insurance policy and that policy would not be enough to compensate the multiple accident victims. In this case, the City of Ottawa was also deemed to be partially responsible (20 percent) yet they could be responsible for 95 percent of the compensation to the accident victims and their families.  Because the City of Ottawa’s insurance pockets are much deeper, they actually end up making up the difference in compensation that is needed for all the families. It appears that the Negligence Act in fact protects accident victims that find themselves in a situation where there is adequate compensation available. The City of Ottawa is appealing the decision.

David later discussed another case where the courts did not attach liability to “other” parties involved in an accident and as a result the accident victims and their families did not receive the compensation that was needed.

If you would like to read the entire article, click here www.lawyersweekly.ca/articles/2640

If you or a loved one has been injured you should contact an experienced Ottawa injury lawyer to discuss what Accident Benefits you may be entitled to.  Your Ottawa injury lawyer will be able to help you establish what your short-term and long-term needs will be.


How many more cuts and changes to accident benefits can Ontario take?

Changes to accident benefits

chnagestoccidentbenefits

I received my letter today. “Changes to Ontario Auto Insurance Give You More Choice” Ha ! It seems like every so often there are new cuts and changes to accident benefits in Ontario and this year is no different. While it is mandatory to purchase auto insurance in Ontario, the mandatory coverage seems to be eroding. Sadly, these changes are leaving many vulnerable accident victims with little resources or compensation to rely on. Not to mention, these are much needed resources.

As of June 1, 2016 there are more drastic cuts coming to Ontario’s accident benefits system. You may recall that Ontario residents also saw very drastic cuts to their accident benefits on  Sept. 1, 2010. Those initial cuts stripped many accident victims of services and compensation they needed for recovery and now even more accident victims will find themselves with no income, less compensation and fewer accident benefits.

The insurance company’s response to changes to accident benefits ? Buy more insurance…

Sadly , the Ontario insurance regime has been so eroded that for some, there simply isn’t enough benefit coverage for people who are injured in a car accident and need to access these benefits. The government and the insurance industry’s response to this has been to tell Ontario drivers to purchase optional benefits. In other words, give more money to the insurance companies, while the government mandates fewer and fewer benefits. The upcoming changes have also made it next to impossible and extremely difficult for Ontario accident victims to access help in a timely manner. Now, anyone who may be deemed to have a catastrophic impairment, must wait and be tested several months, or even years after they have suffered their injury. In the meantime, they aren’t able to work and their bills are piling up. We don’t need to elaborate on how difficult a situation this is on a family or an injured individual.

Insurance companies can pay low wages

Insurance companies also have stipulated limits as to what they are willing to pay.  Even if an accident victim is eligible for certain benefits such as having someone come into their home to help, the insurance companies often set a dollar amount as to what they will pay for these services. Often  times the dollar amount is too low, making it difficult to find help and people who are willing to work for low wages.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing new regulations being introduced is a new law that strips away the rights of Ontario drivers.  Now, there is no real recourse against the insurance companies if they are being unfair and mishandling a claim. Before this new law, drivers in Ontario were permitted to sue the insurance company if the insurance company was being unfair and mistreating an individual.  Now, the government has removed the right to sue.  Sadly, this may give the insurance companies a lot of room for misconduct.

Insurance companies can hire their own

Another huge inequity is that insurance companies are able to hire their own professionals to assess accident victims . The cost of these assessments is very expensive. Ultimately these are dollars that could be given to accident victims for rehabilitation, home modifications etc…

“Stay tune for more changes to accident benefits…”

It really seems like it can’t get worse for Ontario drivers.  Ontario drivers are paying a lot of money for mandatory insurance that will likely not cover the cost of their injuries and they will likely not have access to the much needed funds they will need in time.  One has to ask oneself…..When is enough, enough ?

written by Rebecca


What happens if I lent my car to a friend and they got into an accident?

Did you know that lending your car also means you are lending your insurance policy ?

Implications when lending your car.

Implications when lending your car.

In Ontario, lending your vehicle to someone else could potentially put you in a dangerous situation. While you may think throwing your buddy the keys to take your car is no big deal, our Ottawa injury lawyers caution you to think long and hard about this decision. Your good standing with your insurance company could potentially be at risk, should the borrower get into an accident.

As Ottawa injury lawyers, we hate breaking the news to people about the repercussions of loaning your vehicle. Most people don’t realise that when you lend your vehicle to someone else and they are involved in a collision and are at-fault, your auto insurance policy may be the policy that ultimately pays out for any injuries or damages if a personal injury claim is made. In the end, this could cost the owner of the vehicle because as we all know, insurance rates can increase once a claim is made. These costs can range.  On the lighter side, the owner of the vehicle may have to pay a deductible; however, depending on the circumstances of the accident, the owner of the vehicle could be on the hook for a lot more. For example, if the borrower is in breach of a condition of the insurance policy; perhaps their driver’s license was expired, or perhaps they were charged with distracted driving (texting while driving), the owner’s insurance company can possibly deny insurance coverage . If this denial were to occur, the owner may personally be responsible. If the accident is serious in nature and someone is seriously injured, this could mean that the owner of the vehicle could be responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars in compensation.

Please exercise caution when lending your vehicle. There is so much more at stake. Our Ottawa injury lawyers hope you can make an informed decision. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.