The Alberta government is currently reviewing the province’s auto insurance industry. Although no details have been released regarding the particulars of a new insurance system, there has been speculation that Alberta will be moving towards a no-fault regime.
WHAT IS NO-FAULT AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE?
A no-fault automobile insurance system would likely operate in a similar manner as Alberta’s Workers’ Compensation Board. An individual will receive compensation whether they caused the accident or were the innocent victim as the result of someone else’s negligence.
A no-fault system effectively will take away an individual’s right to sue. Also, the system itself will decide what a party owes and what a party receives.
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH NO-FAULT AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE?
Personal injury lawyers throughout Alberta are concerned about what a no-fault system will mean for their clients, particularly ones that are seriously injured. The following are some of the problems associated with a no-fault system automobile insurance regime:
- With a no-fault insurance system, each driver’s own insurance company will decide whether their health issues were caused by the accident and will determine the amount of benefits that you are entitled to receive. Therefore, the for-profit company not only determines whether you are entitled to receive benefits, but will also decide the amount of those benefits.
- With a no-fault insurance system, individuals that suffer injuries will not be entitled to receive a lump-sum payout and the opportunity to decide how to care for their injuries and move forward with their lives. Under this regime, decisions regarding healthcare will be made by the insurance company and it will be at the company’s discretion to determine whether an individual meets the eligibility criteria.
- With a no-fault insurance system, there is no legal recourse if an insurance company decides to terminate benefits unless the individual is able to afford the legal fees associated with attempting to overturn the decision.
- With a no-fault insurance system, an individual who suffers from post-concussion syndrome, which can affect one’s ability to work for many years after an accident, may lose their ability to challenge in court the amount of compensation they receive should they be unable to work for many years into the future.
- With a no-fault insurance system, there is no prevention or accountability for bad driving. All drivers are entitled to the same benefits, whether they caused the accident or were innocent victims of an accident.
- With a no-fault system, compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life are essentially abolished.
- With a no-fault system, it is expected that insurance premiums will go up by three to four per cent every year as claims costs go down for insurance companies at the same rate. In the long term, premiums are expected to increase at a more moderate rate.
FAIR ALBERTA INJURY REGULATIONS
Although Alberta’s insurance industry claims that the automobile insurance market is in turmoil, Fair Alberta Injury Regulations (“FAIR”), an Alberta group advocating for fair auto insurance, has recently reported that these claims are erroneous. Please see our recent blog regarding the discrepancies found with respect to the insurers’ claims to be paying out more than their premiums.
FAIR is a coalition of Albertans made up of consumers, medical professionals, injured Albertans and members of the legal community that are committed to protecting the rights of Albertans injured in motor vehicle accidents.
The legal team at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers strongly support the efforts of FAIR and are dedicated to holding auto insurance companies accountable and to demanding that their clients and all injured Albertans receive the compensation that they deserve and appropriate treatment options.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
For more information regarding FAIR and its efforts, please visit their website at fairalbertainjuryregulations.ca.
You can also make your voice and opinions heard regarding changes to Alberta’s automobile insurance industry by sending a letter to your Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and/or the Minister of Finance. A letter template can be found on FAIR’s website.
FAIR is also collecting personal stories regarding motor vehicle accidents and is eager to hear your opinion regarding the government introducing no-fault auto insurance in Alberta. You can read personal stories from fellow injured Albertans on FAIR’s website.
Choosing a personal injury lawyer to represent you or a loved one in your time of need is not a decision to be taken lightly. As a firm of lawyers who specialize in personal injury law and medical malpractice, the experienced lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers have a strong reputation in the community and the legal profession.
At Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers, we strive to provide our clients with excellent legal services, and we offer a free consultation. Our personal injury lawyers are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding hiring a lawyer for your personal injury or medical malpractice case. Please contact our office at 403-571-0555 or online.