What should I do after a car or motor vehicle accident?

After a car accident, your first priority should be your health and safety. It is imperative to seek medical attention as quickly as possible, particularly as signs of an injury may not immediately be noticed. At the scene of the accident, ensure that appropriate first responders are called. Exchange contact and insurance information with all other drivers involved, pedestrians, witnesses, and police. If you feel well enough, try to document the scene by taking photographs.

After these steps, it is important to speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to preserve your potential personal injury claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer has the resources required to protect your rights and seek the maximum compensation possible.

Can I receive compensation for minor injuries sustained in a car accident?

You are entitled to compensation if you have suffered minor injuries as a result of a car accident. Minor injuries are generally defined as injuries which do not result in a serious impairment. Damages for pain and suffering (general damages) from minor or soft-tissue injuries fall under the minor injury cap in Alberta (which, as of 2022, is set at $5,488).

However, injuries do not always fall within the category of capped claims, even if the insurance company claims that they do. Further, an injury that seems minor may not be considered minor if it fails to resolve within a reasonable amount of time. Therefore, it is critical to contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer before settling with your insurance company to ensure you get the maximum compensation possible.

Does it matter if I’m at fault for the car accident?

In Alberta, you are entitled to Section B (No-Fault Accident) Benefits regardless of fault for an accident. Generally, Section B Benefits can help cover medical and treatment expenses and a portion of lost income. If you are unsure about how to apply for these benefits or your legal entitlements, the lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP can guide you through this process.

The at-fault party’s automobile insurance company will be responsible for medical expenses (not covered by insurance) and other compensatory damages for the injuries suffered by the innocent party(ies). Drivers deemed at-fault for an accident may be subject to paying higher automobile insurance premiums and the at-fault collision will be noted on their driving record.

If I have insurance, do I need to hire a personal injury lawyer for my car accident?

Hiring a personal injury lawyer after a car accident is not required by law, but it is highly beneficial and often results in greater compensation.  A personal injury lawyer can help navigate and manage your injury claim so that you can focus on your health and recovery. A lawyer can obtain evidence and witness statements, investigate the collision, review liability and pursue a claim for fair and just compensation for your losses and damages.

It is important to note that hiring a personal injury lawyer does not guarantee a particular outcome for your claim.

Is there a time limit to sue someone after a car accident in Alberta?

In Alberta, the general time limit to file a lawsuit after a car accident is within two years from the date of the accident. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations and is set out in the Alberta Limitations Act. If you do not file your lawsuit within this time period, you may be barred from doing so.

There are some limited exceptions to this general rule, however. For instance, if you were a minor at the time of the accident, you have a longer time period to sue (i.e. within two years of the minor’s 18th birthday). If you have been involved in a car accident, it is important to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure you do not miss the limitation period or prejudice your right to pursue damages.

How much does a car accident lawyer cost? 

At Cuming & Gillespie LLP, our lawyers manage personal injury claims on a contingency basis so that no out-of-pocket expenses are paid by you. Instead of paying an hourly rate, our legal fees are calculated as a percentage of the final amount we recover on your behalf. Because legal fees are collected once your file has been settled, no bills for legal fees or disbursements will be due throughout the duration of your claim. All legal fees and disbursements are collected at the conclusion of your file from your settlement.

You only pay if we successfully settle your claim. If we do not recover compensation, you will not owe us anything.  

What is the difference between accident benefits and personal injury damages?

Accident benefits are paid by the insurance company of the vehicle that you were driving, while personal injury damages are the result of a lawsuit against the responsible driver or vehicle owner. Some differences between the two types of compensation, as well as the ways Cuming & Gillespie LLP can assist with each, are set out below. Cuming & Gillespie LLP handles all aspects of both accident benefits and a personal injury lawsuit. You focus on getting better – we handle the rest.

Accident Benefits

  • Paid by the insurance company that covers the vehicle the injured party was driving
  • Payable immediately for two (2) years up to $50,000 plus income benefit – Cuming & Gillespie LLP can assist with the claims process with no fee charged
  • Comprehensive treatment plan can be provided through medical assessments – Cuming & Gillespie LLP can help set up private occupational therapy and medical assessments
  • May provide income replacement benefits (i.e. for loss of income or inability to work caused by injuries)
  • May cover necessary costs, including occupational therapy, physiotherapy, massage, chiropractic treatment, dental, counselling, etc.
  • May include household benefits
  • Goal is complete recovery or best recovery possible

Personal Injury Damages

  • Claimed for through a lawsuit against the responsible driver/vehicle owner
  • May be able to get an emergency advance to cover immediate needs, if applicable (otherwise, need to wait until lawsuit is settled or adjudicated in court)
  • Damages claimed for impact of injures on life, family, and work
  • Analysis of damages owed is based on injured party’s abilities once they’ve achieved maximum improvement on recovery (i.e. back to 100%)
  • Several potential heads of damages:
    • Pain and suffering
    • Out-of-pocket expenses
    • Past and future income loss
    • Lost opportunities
    • Household impact and housekeeping
    • Future care/life care plan
    • Tax implications
    • Impact on injured person’s spouse/partner
    • Interest
  • Cuming & Gillespie LLP retains the top experts to provide opinions/assessments to help value claim
  • Legal fees charged on total compensation collected at end of claim