If you’re like a lot of victims who are injured in accidents, you probably aren’t entirely sure what you should do next. Whether an injury was caused by a car accident, medical procedure, dog bite, or something else, many victims make the same mistakes afterward. Here’s what they are and how you can avoid them.
Not Seeking Medical Attention
Oftentimes, people who are involved in accidents decide not to seek medical attention. You might think that you’re okay, but it’s always a good idea to either go to the emergency room or to see your doctor if you’ve been injured. Firstly, you want to make sure that you really are okay—many internal injuries or concussions can’t be diagnosed other than by a professional. Secondly, you won’t be able to file a personal injury claim or even prove fault if you don’t have a medical record.
Not Saving Documentation
When you’ve been injured, the last thing you might be thinking of is gathering evidence to file a claim. However, you should always save any police reports, pictures, witness information, medical bills, or insurance estimates in case you end up in court. Even if you think you won’t be filing a claim, it can still be a good idea to hold onto these things in case someone else who’s involved decides to blame you.
Not Hiring Personal Injury Lawyers
You might think that insurance companies will handle everything if you’ve been in an accident, but you should consider hiring personal injury lawyers to ensure that you get proper compensation. You may not be reimbursed for medical expenses, missed work, or other damages if you don’t have personal injury lawyers. Personal injury lawyers will either negotiate or fight for you in court. If the thought of going to court is holding you back from hiring a personal injury lawyer, you should know that most cases (nearly 96%) are settled outside of court.
Signing Documents You Shouldn’t
A lot of people make the mistake of signing documents that they shouldn’t after they’ve been hurt. You may not realize what you’re signing or you may feel pressured by an insurance company or the responsible party’s lawyer to sign. You may even think that you’re on the mend and won’t need to sue. Always talk to a personal injury lawyer or car accident lawyer before you sign anything. You could unknowingly give up your right to sue later or assume responsibility if you don’t.
Thinking It’s Too Late
Sometimes, victims won’t do anything about their injuries because they think too much time has passed. But what if your condition worsens or it takes a while for an injury to be noticed? Consult with personal injury lawyers to find out what the statute of limitations is in your area. You may still be able to file a claim.
After you’ve been injured, you might not realize that you’ve ignored important details or even placed blame on just one person when two people were actually responsible. Make sure to look at what happened step by step so that you don’t miss anything. Personal injury lawyers can usually point out if you’re focusing too narrowly on only one factor. This can make a big difference if or when you need to sue.
Not Considering Emotional Damage
Most people who are injured in an accident focus on getting better physically. However, if you can no longer live your life the way you did before the accident, you may have emotional damage. Many experiences can be quite traumatic, and you don’t want to ignore what you might be thinking or feeling. In some cases, emotional pain and suffering can be more severe than physical pain. Be sure to share everything you’ve experienced with your lawyer so that you can be appropriately compensated.
Personal injuries can cloud your judgment after an accident. While it’s important to focus on getting well, be mindful not to make these common mistakes. Doing so could jeopardize any legal action you may need to take in the future. If you are unsure about what to do or are left with any doubt after an accident, consult with a personal injury lawyer before you do anything else.
I was a cyclist involved in a car accident. What are my rights?
In short, the same as those of a driver or passenger. Liability may be handled differently, but the cyclist maintains a right to claim against the at-fault driver and seek benefits from the applicable insurer. Your car insurance is meant to provide accident benefits if you're involved in a car accident. It does not matter whether you were actually driving a car. As long as you have car insurance, your accident benefits should kick in. If you don't have car insurance, the at-fault driver's insurance will provide accident benefits. Either way, you should be covered by a policy. If neither of you has insurance, there's still the motor vehicle accident fund which acts as a safety net in cases where insurance is not available.
Typically, there's an assumption that the cyclist was not at fault. This does not mean you can pedal around with no regard to surrounding traffic. You still have to be diligent and you still owe yourself an obligation to proceed with reason. Any contribution found on your behalf will reduce the value of your claim. You can be deemed contributorily negligent if you don't wear the proper protective gear, or if you don't abide by the rules of the road.
Seasonal changes in traffic will often give rise to increases in car accidents involving cyclist. A good portion of the driving population does not properly adapt to these changes. This causes drivers to make assumptions they shouldn't make: disregarding their blind spot, failing to keep track of cyclist in the bike lane, opening their doors without thinking of oncoming cyclist. Unfortunately, the injuries are often devastating. Even with protective gear, the force of direct impact may leave the cyclist with serious, life-changing and permanent injuries.
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I was injured in a car accident which was not my fault more than 3 years ago. I have just learned that as a result of my injuries I will need surgery and may never be able to work again. Before learning this from my doctor I had believed my injuries were not that serious and I would fully recover. Can I sue the driver that hit me?
Limitations and their exceptions
That is a complicated question. Generally speaking, although there are exceptions, you may commence an action for damages in Ontario anytime up to 2 years after an event, or after you reasonably learned of the consequences of an event. If you know of the consequences of an event where you suffered injuries or losses, you generally lose your right to sue as of the second anniversary of the loss.
There are various exceptions to this rule. Recently, the Ontario Government has abolished limitation periods for victims of sexual assault.
Furthermore, limitations generally don’t apply to people under a legal disability, and that includes minors (people under the age of 18).There is also a legal doctrine of discoverability. Discoverability provides that a limitation period does not begin to run against a person until that person knew or ought to have known of a loss, and in some cases the extent or seriousness of a loss can be an issue.
What should you do?
The first thing you should do is get legal advice from a Lawyer as soon as you become aware that something has happened. There are other shorter limitation periods including notice periods which can be just a few days, arising in some circumstances. A Lawyer can give you advice and help you pursue your rights as appropriate.
Secondly, even if you think too much time has gone by, you should consult with a Lawyer. If circumstances provide an exception to the usual limitation periods, a Lawyer will be able to advise you of this fact and advocate on your behalf.
All cases are specific to their facts and the above information should not be relied upon to determine rights in particular circumstances. Lawyers often provide no obligation free and confidential consultations to prospective clients. So it is a good idea to seek out legal advice from a Lawyer if you have any doubt or questions about your rights.
Somatic Symptom Disorder - What is it and how can we prove it?
The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) recently crystallised the importance of considering how psychiatric injuries accompany physical ones. In Saadati v. Moorhead, Saadati was in a car accident and suffered psychological and emotional trauma. He was awarded damages for mental injury based on the evidence of a lay witness who explained that Saadati’s personality changed post-accident. Expert evidence was not necessary, and the award did not need an attached “recognizable psychiatric illness.” The court found that requiring mental injury to pass the threshold of medical-expert testimony showing a “recognizable psychiatric illness,” while not requiring the same “classificatory label” of physical injury, would amount to unequal protection for those with a mental injury.
This SCC decision confirmed that the law of negligence accords identical treatment to mental and physical injury. This is a decision that is often looked at, as of late, with an overwhelming increase in the diagnosis of somatic symptom disorder (SSD). In dealing with my fair share of personal injury cases, I’ve started to notice this increase. The criteria for the illness remain broad, and like so many other cognitive/psychological conditions, it tends to be met with quite a bit of push back from defendants.
The DSM-5 characterises the condition as follows:
“SSD is characterised by somatic symptoms that are either very distressing or result in significant disruption of functioning, as well as excessive and disproportionate thoughts, feelings and behaviours regarding those symptoms. To be diagnosed with SSD, the individual must be persistently symptomatic (typically at least for 6 months).”
I tend to see this diagnosis when clients are suffering from longstanding subjective physical symptoms. The client is in extreme physical distress, but there’s no explanation of where this additional distress comes from. The pain felt by the client is otherwise disproportionate to the actual seriousness of the injury. I’ve always viewed it as an uncontrollable dispute between the body and the mind. I say this because typically the body is ready to be healed but the mind isn’t.
The proof isn’t as solid as we wish it was. The driving force of the diagnosis is the client’s own reaction to assessment and medical investigation. An SSD case can often be met by an assumption of “fake” injuries or plaintiff malingering. However, the SCC worded it properly when stating that the trier of fact should “not [be] concerned with the diagnosis, but with symptoms and their effects.” This point should always be emphasised when dealing with SSD cases. Focusing on the genuine statement of lay witnesses and providing a clear historical approach of the impact caused by the negligent act, remains the best means to put forward a strong SSD case.
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