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My spouse is in the hospital after a serious car accident: What should I do now??? (Ontario)

Here’s a call NOBODY likes to get:

This is the Social Worker from your local hospital. Your spouse has been involved in a serious car accident. They’re here in the Critical Care Unit. Their condition is stable, but you should come to the hospital right away“.

Your heart will skip a beat or two; and rightfully so. This is something you would never expect or want to happen. Millions of questions, concerns and grim scenarios are likely rushing through you head.

This first thing to do of course is to get to the hospital to be next to your spouse/loved one. Soon after the situation will stabilize and the next steps are very important. Here are some of Goldfinger Personal Injury Law’s tips on what to do if your spouse or loved one is in the hospital with a serious injury.

1. You should know that if anyone contacts you from any insurance company, you are under no obligation to speak with them. Chances are that if an insurance company has heard about this accident, they will want to get some information right away. Naturally, people want to be helpful and share information with the insurer. But, often times, the information which you are providing to an insurer without the assistance of a lawyer can damage your case right from the get go. Insurers won’t stop calling. It’s their job. I’ve actually seen adjusters arrive at an injured party’s bedside while they are medicated in a hospital bed and get them to sign forms and take a statement from them. This is all done under the guise of “information gathering”, but the reality is that they are slowly building their case at limiting their potential exposure and liability. Don’t speak with an insurer without a lawyer. You don’t have to take their calls if you don’t want to. It’s that simple.

2. Co-operate with the police. The police, much like insurers have fact gathering missions. But unlike insurers, the fact gathering missions of the police serve a much different purpose. If you’re more comfortable dealing with the police with a lawyer; then by all means, seek one out. But if the accident wasn’t your fault, then you should have nothing to hide. The police will want to bust the wrong doer just as bad as you for their negligence or bad decisions. It’s beneficial to your case to co-operate with the police as best you can.

3. Follow your doctor’s recommendations: if the doctor recommends that you stay in hospital an extra day, or get discharged to a long term care facility; then do so. Even if all you want to do is go home; or you have no interest in going to a long term care facility; the doctor knows best. Follow their advice so you can get better. It’s never good for a case, or for your health for that matter if you fail to follow a doctor’s orders. Particularly after a bad car accident.

4. When things have settled down, contact your OWN insurance company to report that your loved one has been involved in a serious car accident. Tell them that your loved one is in hospital injured, and that you would like to make a claim for Accident Benefits. Ask that they send you an Accident Benefits package right away, and that they assign an Accident Benefit adjuster to your claim. Beyond that initial request to open an accident benefit file, that’s really all the speaking you should do with your insurer for the injury portion of the claim.

5. Know the difference between an Accident Benefit Adjuster, a Third Party Bodily Injury Adjuster, and a Property Adjuster. The property adjuster handles the replacement value or repair value of the damaged vehicle. You can certainly deal with this adjuster on your own if you’re comfortable with it. Our law firm generally does not assist with this portion of the claim because it doesn’t involve and personal injury. It deals only with property that’s yours and getting the repairs to your vehicle, or rental/replacement vehicle taken care of. This Property Adjuster doesn’t handle the injury party of the claim. The Accident Benefit adjuster will likely work for the same company as the Property Adjuster. The Accident Benefit adjuster is likely from your own insurance company. They are responsible for handling the accident benefit portion of the claim (med/rehab benefits, attendant care benefits, income replacement benefits etc.). Do NOT speak with the accident benefit adjuster without a lawyer. You will be driven CRAZY by the paperwork, requests, timelines etc. The Third Party Bodily Injury Adjuster works for the insurance company of the at fault party. This is the Defendant in your future claim. Do NOT speak with this person at all. They will most likely use everything you say against you to limit their insurer’s exposure and potential liability. Essentially, this adjuster represents the party who you will be suing in the future; so why are you co-operating with them now? What you say will eventually come back to haunt you.

6. SAVE ALL OF YOUR RECEIPTS and keep track of your kilometres travelling. All of this can be reimbursed.

7. Bring a folder to the hospital to keep all of your paperwork inside of it. There will be LOTS of paperwork while your loved one is in the hospital. It’s best to keep it organized and all in one place. Get a folder or a large envelope so that this paper work doesn’t get lost. It’s important

8. Take a photo of your loved one while she’s in the hospital bed. Why? Evidence for later. Your spouse’s health should eventually improve. The casts will come off. The bumps and bruises will go away. Your lawyer, and the Court will want that photo as evidence of the miserable time, and the pain and suffering which your spouse experienced shortly after the car accident. It’s a morbid thought, but it makes complete sense and it only helps to provide a Judge and Jury a clearer picture or what happened and the ramifications which the accident had. A picture is much more effective evidence for your case.

9. Contact a personal injury lawyer. For all of the reasons set out above, it’s important that you retain a lawyer. Don’t let it sit. The sooner, the better. The longer the case lags without a lawyer, the more evidence gets lost, the more timelines get missed, the stronger the insurers case gets. Don’t let it sit. 1-medical-textiles

10. Get comfortable. The stay in hospital or a rehab facility unfortunately, can be a long one. Bring things from home to make you and your spouse more comfortable. Get caught up on that TV series you’ve been meaning to watch. Binge Watch Breaking Bad. Bring flowers, photos of loved ones, bring a lap top or IPAD/Tablet. Bring a cell phone charger. Bring food from home to eat. Whatever you can do to make this experience more comfortable.

11. Beware what you post on social media! Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Instagram, MySpace are all now best friends of insurers. They use information posted on social media against accident victims in their respective cases. Watch what gets posted. Our advice is to de-activate these accounts right away after a serious collision just to be safe.

12. Do your very best to relax. Your spouse’s health is outside of your control. You’re the person who needs to be the source of strength and stability during these uncertain and hard times. If you need counselling to help get through these times, then speak with your lawyer. Don’t be afraid to get expert help! Your lawyer can assist you in finding a therapist or a counsellor to work with you. But it’s important that you do your best to keep it together for your spouse and for your family during these difficult times.

This list highlights some of our top tips. There are certainly others. But if you want them, you’ll have to reach out to our office at info@goldfingerlaw.com or call us toll free at 1-877-730-1777.

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