Our personal injury lawyers constantly field questions from prospective clients regarding the basic steps of what to do after they’ve been involved in a car accident in Ontario.
We must admit, the laws surrounding car accidents in Ontario are confusing. They certainly aren’t straight forward by any means. It comes as no surprise to our lawyers that people have questions, and LOTS of them!
This is why our law firm has put forward this easy to understand claims guide in order to assist you after you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, motorcycle accident, or have been hit by a car as a pedestrian.
1. Call 911! If it’s for police, ambulance or fire, it’s important you make this call to make sure that you and others are safe. You’re safety and well being are paramount.
2. Go to hospital or see your family doctor/nurse practitioner. If you don’t have a family doctor, then attend at your local urgent care clinic or walk in clinic. Your health is of the utmost importance.
3. You MUST report the motor vehicle accident to your own insurance company; even if the accident is NOT your fault. You must report the accident within seven days, or as soon as reasonably possible after that. Failure to report your claim within that time frame may result in the insurer failing to honour your claim.
To further expand on this area, many clients don’t understand why they are required to report the motor vehicle accident to their own insurance company even if the accident was not their fault. This is what “no fault” insurance is all about. The at fault driver could have been drunk, stoned, on his/her cell phone, ran a red light driving 50km over the speed limit. Liability is almost an after thought for claiming accident benefits. You MUST report the car accident to your own insurer. It’s the law. Plain and simple. Don’t think that’s right? Doesn’t make sense? Contact your local MPP and let them know what you think.
4. Take photos of the damage to the vehicles, the accident scene, along with your injuries. Do this only if you’re able to. If you can’t do this on account of your accident related injuries, it never hurts to ask a friend, family member or a loved one to lend a helping hand. This information will be important for your case down the line.
5. Call a personal injury lawyer! You would think that we would make this item #1. But the reality is that your personal injury lawyer cannot call the police to report your accident and fill them in with the details of your car accident. Your personal injury lawyer cannot take you by ambulance to the hospital. Your personal injury lawyer cannot perform life saving surgery. Rest assured, your personal injury lawyer will be with you every step of the way, but some steps need to be taken alone prior to their involvement in your case.
6. What to do if you don’t have insurance? You must proceed with your accident benefit claim through the other driver’s insurance. In some situations, the other driver’s insurance will seek to “pass the buck” so to say on to another insurer. This is common and results in so called priority disputes. These are disputes between insurers regarding whose responsibility it will be to pay for the accident benefit claim. You will see the at fault driver’s insurance company launching such a priority dispute against the insurer for a parent, spouse, landlord, boy/girlfriend, rental car company, or employer’s car insurance if a company car is involved in any way shape and form. There is a lot of case law on these priority disputes. But keep in mind that these disputes are common.
7. Don’t sign anything without getting the advice of a personal injury lawyer. Don’t meet with anyone from the insurance company without having a lawyer present. It’s ok to tell the insurer “no“, or that the meeting has to wait. You don’t want your potential claim grounded, before it even begins by making a bad move. When it doubt, contact a lawyer.
8. Benefits won’t just be handed out to your gratuitously. Money does NOT fall from the sky in the world of car insurance. In order to get benefits, you first need to apply for them in writing. This means completing all of the accident benefit related claims form. They are called OCF claim forms. The first form to complete is the OCF-1 Application for Accident Benefits. You can read more on how to complete the OCF-1 Application for Accident Benefits claim form on a previous entry of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog.
Beyond that, you will need to complete a myriad of other OCF Claims forms including but not limited to:
- OCF-2 Employer’s Declaration of Income (for Income Replacement Benefits
- OCF-3 Disability Certificate (to tell the insurer what your injuries are, how they are impacting your life, and the anticipated duration of those injuries)
- OCF-4 Death and Funeral Benefits Application (if the accident was a fatality claim to recover death and funeral expenses)
- OCF-5 Permission to Disclose Health Information (our law firm does not permit our clients to sign this form for reasons we can share with you in confidence. We can get your medical records without the insurer getting involved)
- OCF-6 Expense Claim Form (to recover your out of pocket expenses and mileage. Original receipts are required!)
- OCF-10 Election for Income Replacement Benefit or Non-Earner Benefit (consult a personal injury lawyer to know which benefit is right for you, because you can only elect once!)
- OCF-18 Treatment Plan (so that you can get physio, massage, chiro, counselling, etc. treatment to help you on your road to recovery post accident)
- OCF-19 Application for Determination of Catastrophic Impairment (to apply for catastrophic injury designation following your accident. There is a strict medico-legal definition which your injuries must meet)
Lots of forms that somebody new to car insurance and car accidents has never seen before. Completing these forms the right way, and in a timely manner is important towards advancing a successful personal injury case.
We hope that this brief car accident claims guide provides you with some easy to understand information in order to navigate Ontario’s complicated car insurance regime. This guide is meant to be quick and cursory. It’s by no means comprehensive and is NOT a substitute for an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer.