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Process For A Motor Vehicle Accident Claim

April 15, 2024

Contacting a Lawyer

It is important to contact a personal injury lawyer after a car accident, ideally in the week or two following the accident. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you navigate the different insurance claims that arise from a motor vehicle accident. A lawyer can also ensure that the appropriate evidence, such as photos, black box data, and witness statements, is preserved to support your claim. A lawyer can also walk you through the process of bringing a motor vehicle accident claim, and explain the types of compensation that might be available to you.


Contacting Your Motor Vehicle Insurer

You should also contact the automobile insurer of the vehicle you were in at the time of the accident, to notify them of the accident. Regardless of who is at fault for the accident, your automobile insurance should cover any damage to your vehicle and should pay for the treatment costs for any injuries resulting from the car accident. If you are put off work because of your injuries, you may also be eligible for wage loss benefits from your automobile insurer. If you are a pedestrian, you can still access these health and treatment benefits through the insurance of the vehicle that collided with you. For more information on these benefits, see our blog on automobile insurance policies here.


How Health Insurance Relates to Car Accident Injury Claims

If you have private health insurance, you will be required to exhaust this insurance before accessing benefits through your automobile insurance. Therefore, you should first use your private health insurance benefits to cover any medication or treatment costs related to injuries from the car accident. Once these benefits have been utilized, then your automobile insurance will continue to cover the ongoing expenses or losses.

If you decide to pursue a personal injury claim as a result of a motor vehicle accident, your private insurer may have the right to a subrogated claim. This means that the private insurer is entitled to be reimbursed by the insurer of the at-fault driver for the benefits provided to you relating to your injuries from the accident. It is very important that your lawyer contact your private insurer to determine whether the insurer wants to pursue a subrogated claim and, if so, ensure that the claim is part of any settlement with the Defendant.


Understanding Limitation Periods for Car Accident Injury Claims

The New Brunswick Limitations Act sets a general two-year limitation period for motor vehicle accident claims. The two-year time period usually runs from the date of the car accident. It is imperative that the appropriate legal documents are filed with the Court of King’s Bench well in advance of this limitation period. If the limitation period expires before these documents are filed, you will lose your right to bring a claim and will not be entitled to any compensation.

There are some exceptions to the general two-year limitation period. For example, the limitation period applies differently to minors. The limitation period for minors is two years from the age of majority.


Steps You Can Take To Ensure You Receive Appropriate Compensation

There are steps you can take from the time the car accident occurs to ensure that you maximize your entitlement to compensation:

The most important thing you can do from an early stage is to ensure that you are seeing your healthcare providers regularly and that you are following the instructions of your healthcare providers. You must be assessed by a doctor soon after the accident to determine the extent of your injuries. A doctor can advise you on what tests and treatments are required for your injuries.

It is also crucial that you follow the advice of your doctor and other treatment providers concerning your injuries. If you do not follow the advice of your treatment providers, the Defendant may try to raise the defence of ‘failure to mitigate’. This means that the Defendant would argue that your injuries and losses would have been less had you followed the advice of your treatment providers. The Defendant would then take the position that you should be entitled to less compensation as a result.

It is also important to consult a lawyer soon after the car accident to determine what evidence should be preserved or gathered to support your claim. Your lawyer may ask you to take notes on certain aspects of your injuries or losses. Your lawyer will also want to start collecting documents to support your claim early on. This information and these documents may be integral to supporting your claim later on.


Resolving a Car Accident Claim

The goal of a personal injury claim is to secure a settlement amount for the injured client. The settlement amount will include compensation for injuries and losses flowing from the car accident. How a claim is resolved may look different depending on the unique circumstances of each case. A full assessment of damages can only be made when the client has reached maximum medical improvement, or in other words, ‘the injuries have resolved or are as good as they will get’. Therefore, the time for fully assessing the claim and initiating settlement negotiations will be different for each client, depending on how long it takes for their injuries to resolve or plateau.

At Melanson Law, once our client has reached this point, we draft a detailed written assessment of the compensation our client may be entitled to. We then review this assessment in detail with the client to ensure it is accurate and complete. After our client’s approval, we then initiate settlement negotiations with the other side. The time it takes to settle a client’s claim depends on the complexity of the case, and on whether the other side agrees with our assessment of damages.

If a settlement cannot be negotiated right away, our lawyers work on finishing pre-trial proceedings and having the matter set down for trial. Having trial dates encourages settlement negotiations, as it creates a deadline for the other side, requiring them to either negotiate a settlement or defend the claim at trial. It is very expensive for insurance companies to resolve a claim through a trial, therefore, the other side is usually more motivated to resolve the claim as the trial dates approach. Although most personal injury cases settle before trial, in some rare cases it may be necessary to have a judge decide the claim at trial. 

Jessica Melanson <i class="fab fa-linkedin"></i>
Jessica Melanson

Jessica Melanson, an experienced personal injury lawyer and University of New Brunswick graduate, leads Melanson Law, a family-owned firm focused on injury law. Melanson Law is committed to getting our clients the best possible results. We use trauma-informed approaches with clients as we guide them through the injury law process. We provide our clients with the information and support they need to understand their claim and the system as we work diligently to resolve their claim.

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