Back injuries can be one of the more devastating personal
injuries from a car accident. They can cause permanent damage, as
well as potential paralysis and a number of long-term effects. The
costs of medication and therapy, particularly in cases of temporary
or permanent paralysis, can be crippling in a recovery that can
take months or even years. However, if you suffer a back injury as
the result of a car accident, regardless of whether you were a
driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian, you have certain rights,
particularly in regards to compensation.
In many ways, your rights depend on whether the accident
involved another vehicle whose driver was negligent. Negligence is
defined as a situation where:
The damage or personal injury you
have suffered was caused by another person's actions (or
failure to act).
The person who caused this damage or
injury acted in a manner below the standard of reasonable care (or,
in plainer terms, did not fulfill their reasonable responsibilities
under the law).
The person who caused the damage or
injury had a legal obligation to prevent that injury from happening
(such as, for example, knowingly driving a car that was not fit to
drive and not having taken the necessary action to make the car
If negligence is not a factor in the accident that caused your
back injury, the compensation you are entitled to will come from
your auto insurance policy, or, if you are a passenger or a
pedestrian, the policy of one of the drivers involved. Under
Ontario law, you are entitled to "statutory benefits"
– coverage that must be provided by your insurance policy if
you are injured and require it. These benefits are "no
fault," meaning that they are provided by your insurance
provider, regardless of if the other driver was at fault. These
Income replacement. This is
compensation for the money that you will be unable to earn during
your recovery due to your injury.
Caregiver benefits. If you are no
longer able to care for your children or somebody for whom you have
been providing care, this will cover part if not all of your costs
to hire a caregiver.
Non-earner. This is a very specific
benefit that is only provided if you have been injured such that
you have an inability to carry on a normal life..
Medical and rehabilitation costs.
This covers your additional costs and fees during initial treatment
and your rehabilitation.
Attendant care. This covers your
expenses if your personal injury has caused sufficient damage that
you need a caregiver during your recovery.
Other costs and expenses, such as
out-of-pocket costs for family visits, replacement of property
damaged during the accident, etc.
If the driver does not have insurance and you are not at fault
for the accident, and you do not have your own policy of insurance,
either, you are still entitled to benefits. These benefits come
from the Ontario Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund,
which is a government insurance payer of last resort.
If the other driver was negligent, then you have the right to
sue him or her for damages. The claim must be made within two years
of the accident (different timelines apply for people who are less
than eighteen years old), with the compensation based on the
court's determination of the degree of responsibility for the
accident each party in the lawsuit bears. The damages that you are
entitled to include the same statutory damages as when no
negligence is involved, along with:
Past and future income loss. If you
are successful in your claim, you are entitled to 70 percent of
your gross income up to the trial, and 100% of your gross loss of
income into the future.
Pain and suffering. This is a type of
damages that is only used when you have been disabled by your
injuries so badly that they cross a "threshold," leaving
you permanently impaired in your work and daily life.
Due to the long recovery caused by a back injury after a car
accident, it is important to know your rights. Being able to claim
the compensation you are due is vital for paying your medical fees
and recovery costs. Knowing where to turn to get the help and
support you need is invaluable, particularly when you are facing a
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
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