WHEN CAN I SUE THE OTHER DRIVER IN A CAR ACCIDENT?

Many people believe that if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in a province or state that has no-fault insurance legislation, you are precluded from suing the other driver. This, however, is not true. Under most no-fault regimes, you do have a chance to sue the other driver for certain damages when that driver has been negligent (responsible) for the accident. In this article I will be referring to the no-fault laws of the Province of Ontario. Car accident no-fault laws in other provinces and states will vary.

If you have been injured in an auto accident, you will be entitled to seek accident benefits from your own insurer under the no-fault provisions of the Ontario automobile legislation. However, accident benefits do not compensate you fully for every type of damage you may suffer in an accident. Therefore, you may sue the driver of the other vehicle in the car accident if that driver was responsible (negligent) for the accident. In fact, you may sue the other driver even if you were partly responsible for the accident.

WHAT DAMAGES CAN I BE COMPENSATED FOR IF I SUE THE OTHER DRIVER IN A CAR ACCIDENT?

Anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident can sue the driver of the other car for:

*Economic loss;

*Loss of earning capacity including future loss of income;

*Pain and suffering;

*Loss of care, guidance, and companionship of a family member; and

*Health care expenses (if you have suffered a permanent serious disfigurement or permanent serious impairment of an important physical, mental, or psychological function).

WHAT LIMITATIONS ARE THERE IN MY RIGHT TO SUE THE OTHER DRIVER?

There are several ‘quirks’ in the Ontario motor vehicle legislation that would seem to be blatantly unfair in your right to recover for all your damages from a car accident. For instance, when you sue the other driver in the accident the amount that you receive for your damages is subject to a $30,000 deductible (except where your damages exceed $100,000). Why is there such a high deductible? Well, in my opinion it’s solely because the government favours the insurance companies over the individual insured. However, I’m sure that the government and insurance companies would be quick to say that the deductible is to prevent people from bringing low dollar value or nuisance claims.

Another ‘quirk’ in the legislation is the concept of a ‘threshold’ when you sue the other driver in a car accident. An injured person can only sue the other driver in an auto accident for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and the cost of health care if the injured person passes a certain ‘threshold’. In Ontario that threshold is met only if you have suffered a permanent serious disfigurement or permanent serious impairment of an important physical, mental, or psychological function.

Another limitation in your right to sue the other driver is a time limitation. Generally, you have two years from the date of the car accident to sue the other driver or you will lose your right to sue. Under some special circumstances, the time to sue for a motor vehicle accident can be extended.

HOW DO I SUE THE OTHER DRIVER?

Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer if you think you would like to sue the other driver in a car accident. The motor vehicle legislation in every North American jurisdiction is complex and the only way to be fully apprised of your rights is to meet with a personal injury lawyer who practices plaintiff motor vehicle law. A motor vehicle lawyer will also be able to help you maximize your accident benefits under the no-fault scheme (ie. where you don’t sue the other driver in the car accident). I suggest that you contact Injury Alliance to help you find the experienced lawyer you need to sue the other driver in a motor vehicle accident.

This article is not intended to provide legal advice. It is recommended that you contact your lawyer or attorney to obtain advice pertaining to your specific case.