Sustaining a personal injury due to a car accident can be life-altering. Regardless of the type of injury or the severity, an injured party generally has access to two primary sources of compensation recovery to help with unexpected recovery costs. 

In many cases, regardless of fault, an injured party will have access to Section B benefits, otherwise known as “accident benefits,” to help cover the cost of treatment, care, and lost income. Further, suppose the individual sustained injuries due to someone else’s negligence. In that case, they may be able to pursue a personal injury claim for damages to compensate for, among other things, pain and suffering, the inability to engage in their pre-accident daily activities, and consideration of future financial impacts related to the injury. 

This blog post will provide an overview of the two types of financial compensation available to injured parties. It will highlight how an experienced personal injury lawyer can help compensate you appropriately. 

What is Section B Benefits?

Section B benefits are a mandatory component of the standard insurance policy in Alberta, prescribed under the Insurance Act and the Automobile Accident Insurance Benefits Regulations. These benefits are considered “no-fault” benefits, meaning that eligibility to receive these benefits is not determined by whether the party caused the accident. These benefits are also available to an individual even if the other party involved in the accident is uninsured

The primary purpose of Section B benefits is to help ensure that injured individuals can immediately access treatment to help them focus on their recovery without experiencing a significant financial strain or waiting for the outcome of their personal injury claim. It is the goal that, with the assistance of Section B benefits, an injured party can attain the best possible recovery.  

Benefit Eligibility 

Section B benefits are intended to function such that an injured individual may access treatment immediately without experiencing significant financial hardship or waiting for the outcome of their personal injury claim to provide them with a lump sum payment. 

These benefits are paid by the insurance company that insures the vehicle the injured party was in at the time of the accident. Suppose you were not in your vehicle when the accident happened, or you were uninsured. Depending on the circumstances, you may obtain Section B benefit coverage through another driver’s insurance policy. If you were not in a vehicle at the time of the accident but were a cyclist or pedestrian who was struck and injured, you may be able to apply for Section B benefits through the insurance of the driver who struck you. 

Benefit Coverage

The most recognized use of Section B benefits is for medical treatment and rehabilitation expenses. Commonly, Section B benefits contribute to the costs of uninsured medical treatments, such as physiotherapy, chiropractic care, and massage therapy. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you build a comprehensive treatment plan by assisting with setting up private medical assessments.

Medical Treatment

Section B benefit coverage is payable immediately up to two years from the accident date. Coverage up to $50,000 and an income replacement benefit are available. However, the specific facts of the case, such as whether an injury is minor or serious/catastrophic, may impact what type of benefits and the amount of coverage you are entitled to. 

Direct billing often covers the treatments under the protocol following an injury diagnosis. Following the completion of the protocol treatments, you may be required to pay for treatment upfront and later submit receipts and treatment notes to the insurance company for ongoing reimbursement. 

Income Replacement

Suppose you cannot work after an accident due to your injury. In that case, you may be able to apply for temporary disability/income replacement Section B benefits as well. To qualify, you must be found to be “wholly and continuously” disabled. An individual receiving the disability/income replacement benefit may receive a portion of their average gross weekly earnings for a maximum of 104 weeks. 

If you are 18 years of age or older and were not employed at the date of the accident but are incapacitated such that you are no longer able to engage in your daily household activities, you may instead be eligible for a weekly payment for up to 26 weeks to cover housekeeping expenses. 

What is a Personal Injury Claim?

You may commence a personal injury claim against the driver or vehicle owner who was responsible for the accident to claim personal injury damages. While you can retain a personal injury lawyer immediately following an accident, a personal injury claim may take time to resolve. There are several procedural steps that parties must follow and participate in, which can lead to settlement negotiations. However, if the matter proceeds to trial, a decision and award for damages may only be rendered after several years.

While many lawyers require pre-payment of legal fees as a retainer, personal injury lawyers generally work on a contingency fee basis, which means that no legal fees are required upfront. Instead, the cost of the legal fees will be charged and deducted from the total compensation recovered after the claim.

Quantum of Damages 

It is impossible to know exactly how much your personal injury claim is worth, as the particular facts of the case, type of injury sustained, severity and impact of the injury are some of the determining factors. Further, compensation may be reduced if it is found that you contributed to the accident or your injury, for example, if you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident. Depending on whether an injury is a minor injury, a catastrophic injury, or involves a brain injury, previous case law can help you understand what range specific damages may be in.

Personal injury claims often take longer to resolve because the analysis of damages owed is based on your abilities once you fully recover from your injuries. In some cases, however, obtaining an emergency advance to cover immediate needs may be possible. If this applies to your case, a skilled personal injury lawyer can help you navigate this process and pursue the emergency advance. 

Heads of Damages

You may assert claims for damages under various heads of damages in a personal injury claim depending on the impact of your injuries on your day-to-day life, your employment, your family, and future considerations. Several potential heads of damages may be applicable depending on the circumstances of the case, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Current and future income loss
  • Lost opportunities
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Loss of housekeeping ability
  • Future care and treatment plan
  • Impact on immediate family members
  • Interest

The Personal Injury Lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP in Calgary Ensure Clients Obtain the Benefits and Compensation They Are Entitled To

The experienced personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP in Calgary provide trusted representation to individuals who have been injured in an accident as a result of someone else’s negligence. Knowing what steps to take after an accident can be difficult, which is why our lawyers are here to help. We help our clients work through the claims process and advise them on their rights and entitlements to help them throughout the process, which includes helping clients commence a claim for Section B benefits. Our knowledgeable lawyers work hard to ensure that clients obtain fair compensation to help them move forward after the accident. If you have been injured in an accident, contact us online or call us at 403-571-0555 to learn how we can help you move forward.