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Halifax, NS Intersection

In 2021, there were over 200,000 Canadians involved in motor vehicle accidents, according to Transport Canada’s National Collision Database. According to the same source, almost 50% of those involved in motor vehicle accidents were injured.

After you get in a car accident, you may wonder: is it worth getting a personal injury lawyer? What am I entitled to if I am injured in a car accident? How does car insurance work when I have been involved in an accident?

As you navigate life after your accident, dealing with insurance companies, recovery, and returning to work can feel overwhelming. Seeking legal advice early in the process is one way people sustaining injuries from car accidents can ensure they receive the compensation they are entitled to.

How does car insurance work when you get in a car accident?

There are two insurance companies involved: the first is your insurance company, and it is the Section B automobile insurer. The second is the insurance company for the at-fault driver, called the Section A insurer. A claim against Section A insurance is when the driver who was not at-fault is seeking compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering and the cost of future medical or paramedical treatment.

The Section A insurer and the driver who was not at-fault have an adversarial relationship. They are often cordial and even friendly, but they have no legal obligation to help or compensate you. They insure a third party—-not you-—and these obligations are to their stakeholders and the third party.

If you’ve been injured in an accident and the at-fault driver’s insurer asks you to provide a written or oral statement, it is often best to speak with an injury lawyer before complying. You are not required to make a statement to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Does the type of collision determine who is at fault?

Not necessarily. Fault is determined on a case-by-case basis. While some accident types may strongly indicate that one party was responsible, like being rear-ended by a speeding vehicle, it is not necessarily the case in all circumstances.

While insurance companies and police provide evidence in determining who is at-fault in a car accident, it is ultimately decided by the Courts.

The party who is at fault will be liable for the damages caused by an accident, including injuries.

How long do I have to file a claim after a car accident in Nova Scotia?

In general, the legal limitation period for filing a motor vehicle accident claim is two years from the date of the accident in Nova Scotia, although there are exceptions. There are other time limits that apply to no-fault claims under Section B in Atlantic Canada. At MacGillivray Law, we typically file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver one year after the date of the accident, or once your injuries have healed or the extent of your injuries can be accurately assessed.

It is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after a car accident occurs. It is your lawyer’s job to build a strong case for you, which may include preserving evidence from the scene of the accident, gathering witness statements, and consulting with accident reconstruction specialists. The sooner you engage a lawyer, the sooner they can begin their work gathering time-sensitive evidence. Contacting a lawyer promptly also helps ensure that all timelines are met in the litigation process so that your claim can be pursued successfully.

What injuries can you sustain from a car accident?

There are many possible injuries a person can sustain from a car accident. We often represent people with injuries such as those listed below. You can learn more about the general damages for these specific injuries by clicking on the link.

MacGillivray Law has created a General Damages Guide, which outlines what compensation individuals may be entitled to related to their pain, suffering, lost enjoyment of life, or loss of recreation.

Remember though, general damages are only one form of compensation. Depending on your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Ongoing medical care/in-home care
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Adjusted living expenses
  • Property damage

If you have sustained injuries from a car accident and are looking for more information, we recommend you use our Injury Claim Calculator to determine what you may be entitled to. Contact MacGillivray Law for more information.

Do I have to make a statement to the insurer for the driver who was at fault?

If you’ve been injured in an accident and the at-fault driver’s insurer asks you to provide a written or oral statement, it is often best to speak with an injury lawyer first before complying. You are not required to make a statement to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

In many ways, the at fault driver’s insurance company is your adversary. They have no legal obligation to help you or even to provide you with compensation. They insure a third party – not you – and these obligations are to their stakeholders and the third party, not you.

Any statement you give to an insurance company after an accident can be used to undermine your claim, so it is important to be careful with what information you provide. While it is important to be transparent and truthful, insurance adjusters can misconstrue parts of your statement and interpret them in ways you did not intend, to portray you as untruthful and undervalue your claim. If you say something wrong, or inadvertently say it the wrong way, it could be used to hurt your claim down the road. A car accident lawyer will communicate with your insurer on your behalf and advise you throughout the legal process.

Do I have to make a statement to my own insurance company?

Yes, you are obliged to cooperate with your insurance company if you want to remain entitled to benefits. In Nova Scotia, your own insurer, or the insurer for the car you were in, is called the Section B accident benefits insurer. You are in a contractual relationship with your Section B insurer. This means that you each have obligations and duties to one another under the contract. One of your duties is to provide them with the information they need to adjust your claim.

Tips for speaking to either insurance company

If you do choose to give a statement to either insurance company, here are some tips:

  • Answer the questions asked and don’t volunteer additional information.
  • If you don’t know an answer, clearly state, “I don’t know.”
  • Stick to the basics of the accident.
  • Don’t admit to fault for the accident.
  • Do not exaggerate or downplay the problems caused by your injuries.
  • Don’t agree to a settlement without discussing your options with a lawyer, or at least give yourself time to research.
  • Keep it simple.

Why should I see a lawyer after a car accident?

Adjustors require specific documentation to justify giving you the compensation you deserve. When you hire a lawyer, we know what adjustors are looking for and cover the costs up-front to get the expert opinions you need. Your lawyer, in more serious cases, can request special reports from independent doctors to get opinions and treatment plans related to your accident injuries. These are called independent medical examinations. Additionally, your lawyer can retain engineers, other experts called actuaries, economists, therapists, psychologists, and other experts to help prove fault or the effect of the accident on you.

Insurance companies have teams of insurance adjusters and lawyers. It is difficult to leverage them to ensure they’re providing fair compensation. If you are negotiating with them, you may feel that you have leverage by threatening to hire a lawyer. Even if you could value your case accurately, the threat of hiring a lawyer is not enough. To have leverage, the case must be properly documented with the right evidence, so the insurance adjustor can justify the settlement to the insurance executives who oversee them. The threat of hiring a lawyer is a soft threat that does not worry the insurance company. Having a lawyer who can build the evidence and leverage the process to help obtain a fair settlement can make a significant difference.

Finally, by hiring a lawyer, you are better able to take on the insurance company and bring them to court if necessary. If providing adequate evidence and leveraging the insurance company is not enough, having representation to guide you through the complicated legal process of a lawsuit is essential for your success and peace of mind. By hiring a lawyer at MacGillivray Law, you can focus on recovering while we take care of your case.

For 30 years, our team of personal injury lawyers has been helping Nova Scotians involved in motor vehicle accidents receive fair compensation for their injuries.

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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.

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