Filing a Claim for Compensation to Cover Your Personal Injuries
If your injury was caused by the negligence of another driver, you may consider suing that driver for damages (awards of money granted by a court). Because all drivers are required by law to have liability insurance, when you sue an at-fault driver, that driver will be defended by his or her insurance company. If you are successful, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay the amount of damages awarded by a court, or negotiated in settlement discussions, to the maximum amount provided in his or her insurance policy. The overwhelming majority of lawsuits in personal injury cases stemming from car accidents are settled out of court, however, the process can be very complicated and you are well-advised not to go it along without an experienced personal injury lawyer.
For you to be entitled to compensation, you must establish that your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence. The law of negligence can be complicated. Each case will proceed on its own facts and circumstances but generally, in order to be successful in claiming someone was negligent, you must demonstrate:
- That the defendant owed you a “duty of care.” Generally speaking, drivers have a duty of care to drive safely and according to applicable traffic laws, etc.
- That the defendant breached the “standard of care” applicable in the specific circumstance of your case. Generally, courts will want to know if the defendant’s conduct fell below the standard of a reasonable person in a similar situation. For example, it might be found that a reasonable person would not have tailgated you relentlessly for a long period of time, as the defendant did.
- That the breach of the standard of care explained above is what caused your injuries. This requires that you have injuries in the first place. Generally, courts will employ the “but-for test.” According to the “but-for test,” if your injuries would not have been sustained but for the defendant’s breach, causation is made out.
- The defendant was not too remote from you when the damage was caused. In other words, if there was a chain of events that led to your injuries, the defendant cannot be too remote from you on that chain of events.
Finally, your conduct when the accident occurred may affect the right to recover damages.
- If you negligently contributed to the loss (this is known as “contributory negligence”), the defendant will only be responsible for the damages attributable to his or her portion of responsibility. For example, if you fell asleep while driving, you may have contributed to your injuries and the driver that hit you may only be responsible for a portion of the damages;
- If you indicated a waiver of responsibility for the risk of participating in the activity that brought about the accident (this is known as “voluntary assumption of risk”), you may not be entitled to damages. For example, if you knew the car you were driving had faulty brakes but you chose to drive it anyway, you may have voluntarily assumed the risk of driving that car; and
- If you were carrying out an illegal activity when the accident occurred (this is known as “ex turpi causa”), you may not be entitled to damages. For example, if you were hit by another car during your getaway from robbing a bank, it’s not likely that the law will reward you.
Time Limit for Starting the Lawsuit
If you were in a car accident in Alberta, you generally have two years to sue. There are circumstances, however, when this limitation period can be extended. In order to be certain regarding your right to sue, it is recommended that you speak to a lawyer.
Let Us Help You
If you or a loved one has been injured in Alberta, it is critical that you speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately to avoid damaging your claim. Please contact us immediately for a FREE CONSULTATION at 1 (844) 512-4098 or fill out a confidential enquiry form, and we will contact you as soon as possible.