Car accidents are a fact of daily life in Ontario and can be caused by negligent driving, careless mistakes, and adverse road conditions. Some accidents can be severe in nature and cause major inconvenience to drivers, as well as physical and mental injuries.
After a collision, the drivers’ insurance companies must determine which driver caused the accident. A common misconception about Ontario’s no-fault insurance system is that no driver will carry the blame for an accident. In fact, the no-fault system instead protects drivers from personal injury through insurance coverage.
What Is the No-Fault System?
In Ontario, no-fault insurance is a mandate that requires insurance companies to pay all applicable claims on time. The insurance company takes responsibility for damages and injuries, no matter which driver caused the motor vehicle accident.
While insurance companies still investigate accidents to determine who is the cause, they are governed by specific rules under the Insurance Act that determine who is at fault. A driver’s percentage of fault can be apportioned at 0%, 25%, 50%, 75% or 100%.
When determining fault, insurance companies look at the direct or indirect action of the insured person. They also review external circumstances such as weather and road conditions, visibility, and pedestrian conduct.
How Was Fault Determined Before the No-Fault System?
Before the enactment of the no-fault system in 1989, insurance companies faced considerable difficulty in determining fault. Liability costs were increasing due to the ability to have multiple personal injury claims resulting from one accident. The introduction of the fault determination rules under the Insurance Act helped reduce confusion and decreased the number of fraudulent insurance claims.
What Steps Should I Take After an Accident?
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, you must first ensure your own safety and call for medical help or police. If you can safely do so, it is advisable to take photos of the scene of the accident and get as much information as possible from the other driver. Some important information to gather from the other driver includes:
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance policy details
- Vehicle identification number
- Number of passengers in the vehicle
Next, you must contact your car insurance company to report the accident. You may also be required to make a police report.
Ultimately, no-fault insurance protects individuals from personal injury lawsuits even if they are responsible for an accident. However, this does not mean you have no recourse to obtain compensation for an injury.
If you suffered an injury due to the accident, you should reach out to a qualified personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options. Keep in mind that some injuries take time to appear and the severity of an injury may not be immediately apparent after the accident. Contacting a lawyer as soon as possible helps preserve your legal rights and claim options.
What if I Am Deemed to Be at Fault for an Accident?
If your insurer decides you bear some level of fault for the accident, you will be responsible for the deductible for your vehicle’s damage repair. Additionally, the cost of your insurance premium will likely increase upon renewal. You should review your coverage and deductible annually to ensure it is best suited for your needs and financial means.
Some insurance companies offer incentive programs such as “accident forgiveness” plans. Otherwise, your accident is added to your driving record and continues to impact your policy and record for six years in Ontario. Some companies may be able to access the accident’s information past this timeline.
Once your insurance company’s investigation is complete, they will provide you with a detailed report and summary of their findings. Should you disagree with the insurance company’s finding, you can inquire about any internal review processes available to you. You may also wish to contact a lawyer to discuss any other applicable avenues to dispute the finding of fault.
Contact Tierney Stauffer LLP for Advice on Motor Vehicle-Related Personal Injury Matters
Car and motor vehicle accidents are extremely stressful, especially when they result in a personal injury. Finding a qualified lawyer to help you seek compensation will help streamline the process and ensure your legal rights are protected.
At Tierney Stauffer LLP, our experienced personal injury lawyers will guide you through the process so you can focus on your recovery. We will review the circumstances of your case and find the best avenue of recourse to obtain the compensation you and your family need. We represent clients in Ottawa, Arnprior, Kingston, Cornwall, and North Bay. To find out how we can help you move forward with your life after a car accident injury, call us at 1-888-799-8057 or reach out online to set up a free consultation with a member of our team.