For 30 years, our team of experienced personal injury lawyers have been helping people across Newfoundland and Labrador receive fair compensation for their accident injuries.
Insurance companies earn higher profits by minimizing the amount they pay out in injury claims. Early in the process, before all the evidence is built, they often undervalue claims and make low settlement offers to injury victims. Although the legal process takes time, building a strong case and threatening courtroom litigation can often persuade an insurance company to offer a fair settlement. In fact, most personal injury claims settle outside of the courtroom. An experienced personal injury lawyer will fight for the proper and fair compensation you deserve.
In a personal injury claim, there are two insurance companies involved. One is your insurance company, the Section B automobile insurer. The other is the insurer for the at-fault driver, called the Section A automobile insurer. The relationship you will have with these two companies is very different.
What if the at-fault driver and I have the same insurance company?
When big insurance companies merge and acquire other automobile insurers, they end up owning a lot of the insurance market. This means that it will be common for your insurance company to be the same insurer for the person who is at fault for the accident.
If this is the case, this raises some issues. Even though your adjusters will be working for the same company, the insurance company should keep your file and information separate from the at-fault driver’s file and information. Though the adjusters assigned to your file and the at-fault driver’s file may even work in the same office, they cannot discuss your case.
In brief, Section A (the at-fault driver’s insurer) is your adversary, and they have no obligation to protect your interests or provide you with any benefits until a judge orders them to do so. Section B, however, is your insurer and on your side, and the contract you have with them means that they owe you a duty of good faith. They are responsible for helping you to receive any benefits you are eligible for under your insurance policy.
Our legal team will explain how motor vehicle insurance works in Newfoundland and Labrador, guide you through each step of the legal process, and explain the types of insurance benefits available to you. Our car accident lawyers will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and file an injury lawsuit if necessary. We will ensure that you receive the financial compensation you are entitled to. Contact us today for a free consultation.
What should I do right after a car accident has occurred?
If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by another driver, the following steps can help protect your right to compensation.
- Call 911.
- If you don’t want to call 911 at the time of the accident, report your accident to the police.
According to Section 170 of the Highway Traffic Act, RSNL 1990 c H-3, drivers in Newfoundland and Labrador who are involved in an accident are obligated to immediately report to the police any incident that results in injury or death to any individual, or property damage exceeding $2,000.
In addition to the legal obligation to call the police if someone has been injured in an accident, a police report can also serve as important evidence in a personal injury lawsuit to corroborate the plaintiff’s testimony and determine who was at fault.
- Gather information from all parties involved.
After the accident, record the other driver’s name, contact information, and insurance information. Also collect contact information for any witnesses, as they may be able to provide important testimony if you pursue a personal injury lawsuit. Conveniently, many individuals carry cell phones capable of taking photos. If you can, take photos of the other driver’s license plate and their insurance information. If the negligent driver flees the scene of the accident (i.e., a hit-and-run), there are still legal options for receiving compensation.
- Describe and record the facts of the accident.
Write down as much information about the accident as possible, including the date, time, and location of the accident, the speed and direction of travel of all vehicles involved, the weather conditions, and the condition of the road, for example if it was gravel or paved, or if there were potholes present. Also record any traffic control present, such as traffic lights or stop signs. You should also describe the type of collision, such as a rear-end collision, left turn collision, side swipe, T-bone collision, vehicle rollover, cyclist or pedestrian collision, or collision with an object or animal. Drawing a sketch of the accident scene showing direction of travel, street names, and traffic control can help your lawyer better understand the facts of the case.
- Take photos.
Photos of the accident scene, such as damage to vehicles or nearby property, and photos of any injuries you have may become important evidence for your case. If possible, take any photos of the scene of the accident before any of the vehicles involved are moved.
- Visit your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
It’s important to seek medical treatment for your injuries, no matter how major or minor, as soon as possible after the accident. Treatment records from a healthcare professional, such as your family doctor, the walk-in clinic, or hospital, will become crucial evidence in a personal injury case. If further medical treatment is prescribed, ensure that you follow through with the treatments to help your recovery. You can seek reimbursement for necessary out of pocket medical expenses.
- Contact your automobile insurer.
Contact your insurance adjuster to report the motor vehicle accident. If you are seeking coverage for any vehicle damage, you will need to provide the police report number. You can also arrange treatment appointments, such as physiotherapy and massage, under your own insurance policy.
- Seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer.
If you’ve been injured in an accident at the fault of another person, you could benefit from speaking to an experienced personal injury lawyer. You may be better off speaking to a lawyer before giving a statement to an insurer or accepting a settlement offer. At MacGillivray Injury and Insurance Law, we offer a free consultation where we will review the facts of your case, assess any settlement offers, and explain your legal options.
Do I have to make a statement to the insurance company?
Statements to the at-fault driver’s insurer
If the at-fault driver’s insurer asks you to provide an oral or written statement after an accident, you should speak with a car accident lawyer before agreeing to do so. You are not obligated to provide a statement to the negligent driver’s insurance company. The at-fault driver’s insurance company is your adversary, and they have no legal obligation to help you or provide you with compensation. Any obligations they have are to their stakeholders and the insured third-party, and not to you.
It’s important to be mindful of any statements you give to an insurer after an accident because they can be used to undermine your case. Although it’s necessary to be truthful and transparent when providing information, the insurance adjuster may misinterpret your statement and misconstrue your words to make you appear untruthful. This may hurt your case’s validity and decrease your claim’s value. An injury lawyer familiar with Newfoundland and Labrador insurance law can help you navigate the legal process when dealing with your insurer. Schedule a free consultation with our car accident lawyers in St. John’s to learn more about your rights.
If you do choose to give a statement to an insurance adjuster, here are some tips:
- Only answer the specific question asked. Don’t volunteer additional information.
- If you are unsure of an answer or don’t know the answer, simply say, “I don’t know”.
- Stick to the basics of the accident. Don’t elaborate on things you don’t know.
- Don’t admit to fault for the accident.
- Do not exaggerate or downplay the injuries caused by the accident, or any problems that arise from those injuries.
- Do not agree to a settlement before reviewing it with a personal injury lawyer, or doing your own research beforehand.
- Keep it simple.
Statements to your insurer
If you are injured in a car accident, your insurer (or the insurer for the car you were travelling in) is called the Section B insurer. Since you are in a contractual relationship with your own insurer, you have certain obligations under your insurance policy which must be met in the event of an accident. One of your duties under your contact is to provide your Section B insurer with any information that they need to properly adjust your claim. This includes any information about the circumstances of the accident, or the injuries you sustained. If you want to remain entitled to and continue receiving Section B benefits, you are obliged to cooperate with your Section B insurer when they ask you for information related to the accident.
How is fault determined in a car accident?
Fault is proven in a car accident when you show that an individual’s driving contravened applicable motor vehicle laws, or that their actions were otherwise substandard. Under Newfoundland and Labrador’s injury law, proving fault in car accidents falls under the principles of negligence. Negligence occurs when one party fails to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm to another party. To prove negligence, there are four requirements:
- A duty of care is owed: Having a legal duty of care means you must act in a reasonable way and avoid causing harm to others through your actions or inactions. This duty of care is owed between all motorists on the road, where all drivers are held to the same expectation to keep themselves and others safe.
- A breach of standard of care occurred: We can determine the standard of care by reviewing the traffic rules in Newfoundland and Labrador, and what a reasonable person would be expected to do in similar circumstances. When someone doesn’t follow the traffic rules or doesn’t show “reasonable care” while driving, they are breaching the standard of care. For example, not stopping at a red light is a breach of the standard of care.In personal injury law, evidence such as testimony from drivers and witnesses, police reports, surveillance footage, cell phone records, and reports from accident reconstruction specialists will be used to prove that the other driver breached the standard of care.
- Causation: Causation means that the actions or inactions of the at-fault party caused the injuries suffered by the other party.
- Damages: Damages are losses, financial or otherwise, incurred by the injured party. Damages may include medical bills, lost income, or pain and suffering. Damages must have resulted in order to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
What if you are partially at fault for your accident injuries?
Sometimes it’s not possible to assign fault to only one party in an accident. In those situations, the injured person may be considered partially responsible for their own injuries. This is known as contributory negligence, which means that the injured person’s actions or inactions contributed to their own injuries. A common cause of contributory negligence is the injured party’s failure to wear a seatbelt. According to Section 28.1 of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Automobile Insurance Act, RSNL 1990, c A-22, an injured person’s award for damages will be reduced by 25% for failing to wear a seatbelt, unless they can prove that the failure to wear the seatbelt did not contribute to their injuries.
In McLoughlin et al. v. Luff (Ray) Ltd. et al., 2000 CanLII 28763 (NL SC), the McLoughlin family was driving back to Clarenville from St. John’s on the Trans Canada Highway in a Chevrolet Cavalier during a snowstorm. Gerald was driving, his wife, Kathleen, was in the front passenger seat, and his daughter, Leah, was in the backseat. The McLoughlin’s vehicle was involved in a collision with a Freightliner truck towing a tractor trailer, resulting in severe injuries to Gerald and Leah. No independent witnesses were present, so the court relied on the testimony and evidence provided by the involved parties. It was determined through expert evidence that Leah was not wearing a seat belt and that Gerald was not driving as safe as possible for the weather conditions. Due to his negligent actions, Gerald was found 60% at fault for the accident. Additionally, the truck driver’s speed was found to be excessive in the winter conditions, so he was found to be 20% negligent, and the Province was found 20% at fault for failing in their duty to protect users of the highway.
This example showcases the complexities of accident cases, and how proving fault is not always straightforward.
A finding of contributory negligence means that your compensation will be reduced, not eliminated. An experienced lawyer will work to reduce the impact of contributory negligence on your case. Book a free consultation to learn more.
How long do I have to file a car accident lawsuit in Newfoundland and Labrador?
If you are injured in a car accident in Newfoundland and Labrador, you have two years to file a claim with the Court as dictated by the Limitations Act, SNL 1995, c L-16.1. This deadline can potentially be extended in special circumstances, however it is best to assume that you only have two years to file your lawsuit.
There are some exceptions to these deadlines; for example, if someone is under 19 at the time of the accident, the time limit does not begin until they turn 19. Similarly, if someone is disabled and their mental capacity is compromised, the two year time limit may not apply to them.
Hiring a lawyer earlier in the legal process, rather than waiting to the end of the two year time limit, can have the following advantages:
- The lawyer can file your claim with the Court, allowing you to move forward with litigation if you so choose.
- The lawyer will gather your medical records, treatments charts, a police report if there is one, and can request additional reports from your treatment providers.
- The lawyer can help you with your Section B accident benefits claim, which can provide you with financial assistance for lost wages and medical treatment expenses.
- The lawyer can help you decide on whether to give a statement to the Section A insurer and, if so, can help you prepare the statement and can attend the meeting with you.
- The lawyer can request special reports from independent physicians (Independent Medical Examination) in more serious cases, to bolster your claim.
- The lawyer can retain other experts, such as engineers, actuaries, or psychologists, to help in proving fault or explaining the consequences of the accident.
- The lawyer will research case law and damages awarded in cases similar to yours.
- The lawyer can help you navigate the benefits and risks of settling versus continuing with litigation, at any step in the process.
- If you become disabled as a result of your injuries, the lawyer can help you to access further benefits.
The lawyers at MacGillivray Law typically file a car accident lawsuit one year after the accident, or once your injuries have healed or the long-term consequences of the accident can be more accurately assessed. If you’ve sustained personal injuries at the fault of another, book a free consult with our legal team as soon as possible to ensure that your right to take legal action is protected.
How much is my car accident injury worth?
The severity of the injuries sustained plays a big role in determining how much a claim is worth. Just like motor vehicle accidents can vary in severity, from hitting a parked car to a head-on collision, injuries also range in severity, from minor injuries such as whiplash or soft-tissue injuries, to more serious injuries such as a broken bones, to the most severe injuries such as paraplegia, quadriplegia, or a traumatic brain injury. We also assist people who experience invisible injuries such as chronic pain and psychological injuries, like post-traumatic stress disorder, after a car accident.
Experienced personal injury lawyers will gather evidence such as treatment records and medical expert reports to determine the severity and impact of your injuries in order to determine a fair value for compensation.
Damages are monetary awards meant to compensate you for any losses you’ve suffered as a result of your accident injuries. These damages fall into several categories, called heads of damages, which compensate you for different types of losses. Personal injury lawyers assess each head of damages to determine if it is applicable to your case.
Damages that you can seek in car accident lawsuits include medical bills paid out of pocket, future medical care costs, lost wages since the accident, diminished future earning capacity, child care and housekeeping expenses, and general pain and suffering, called “general damages”. Our General Damages Guide explains each head of damages in more detail and provides examples of past general damages amounts awarded by the courts for various types of injuries. You can also use our Injury Claim Calculator to learn more about the factors a personal injury law firm uses to assess your claim.
General damages deductible
In some Atlantic provinces, there is a maximum amount that can be awarded for general damages when a person’s injuries are deemed to be minor. This is called a minor injury cap. In Newfoundland and Labrador, there is no minor injury cap. However, there is a $5,000 deductible on general damages. A deductible is money that you have to pay out of pocket towards an insured loss before the insurer steps in to pay. This means that in Newfoundland and Labrador, an award for general damages will always have $5,000 deducted from it.
Section B insurance benefits
If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Newfoundland and Labrador, you may have access to Section B no-fault insurance benefits provided under your own insurance policy. These benefits are available regardless of who is at fault for the accident, and provide coverage for reasonable and necessary medical expenses, housekeeping benefits, compensation for a portion of lost wages, and funeral and death benefits in the event of the death of a loved one.
Don’t settle for less
The best way to ensure that you are fairly compensated for your accident injuries, which may impact you for your entire life, is to contact an experienced personal injury law firm. Our lawyers will review the facts of your case, gather all necessary evidence including expert medical reports, research past court decisions for similar injuries, and assess the long-term impacts of your injuries in order to determine a fair and comprehensive value to seek for damages. Book a free consultation to learn more.
How does car insurance work in Newfoundland and Labrador?
Under Newfoundland and Labrador’s Automobile Insurance Act, there are four types of auto insurance that can apply to car accident victims: Sections A, B, C and D. Each section has a specific purpose in helping you recover costs associated with the motor vehicle accident. Personal injury lawyers deal with insurance law on a daily basis and will make sure that you receive the insurance coverage you are entitled to.
Section A insurance claims are made against the negligent driver’s insurer to recover financial compensation for a victim’s injuries.
Section B insurance benefits are “no fault” benefits available to you no matter who is at fault for the accident. This provides financial compensation toward medical costs, lost wages, housekeeping expenses, and funeral and death benefits. This coverage is not mandatory in Newfoundland and Labrador, so be sure to check your policy. Learn more about Section B benefits in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Section C compensates you for the cost of damage to your vehicle caused by the accident. This coverage is not mandatory so check your policy to confirm which coverage is included.
Section D applies when you sustain injuries by an uninsured driver or an unidentified driver. This section applies in hit-and-run accidents, for example. Learn more about Section D insurance here.
Other types of motor vehicle collisions in Newfoundland and Labrador
Our personal injury lawyers are experienced in representing people injured in all types of motor vehicle collisions, not just car accidents. In Newfoundland and Labrador, you can seek compensation for all accidents involving an “automobile” as defined by the Automobile Insurance Act. In addition to car accidents, we help people injured in truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, cyclist accidents, ATV accidents, snowmobile accidents, and boat accidents, or any other accidents involving automobiles.
Book a free consultation
Our injury lawyers have helped thousands of accident victims focus on their recovery and receive fair compensation through successful legal representation. When you hire a lawyer from our law firm on Duckworth St, St. John’s, you’ll also benefit from the resources and knowledge of our entire team across Atlantic Canada.
We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that our fees are deducted as a percentage of the winning settlement or award, so you won’t pay anything until we resolve your case. If you cannot travel to our office in St. John’s, we travel to meet with seriously injured people across Newfoundland and Labrador. We also meet with clients by phone or virtually. Contact us today.
Have questions for our team?
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are Section B or "no-fault" insurance benefits?
- How can a lawyer help with my personal injury claim?
- Should I accept the settlement my insurance company offers me?
- How much is my injury claim worth?
- How can I help my personal injury lawsuit to get the best settlement?
- How long does a personal injury claim take?
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MacGillivray Law is a personal injury law firm with offices in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. We serve clients all across Canada.
If you cannot travel to one of our offices, we will accommodate your circumstances and travel needs. We can provide a consultation by phone, Zoom, or FaceTime, or travel to meet you in your home when required.
If you would like to learn your legal options at no obligation, contact us today to set up a free consultation.