Hit By An Under-Insured Driver?
If you are seriously and permanently injured in a car accident caused by someone one else’s negligent behavior, you have a right to claim for damages (pain and suffering, out-of-pocket expenses, care costs beyond what your own insurance company pays, loss of income beyond what your insurance company pays, etc). The insurance company, acting on the at-fault driver’s behalf, pays the costs of these damages.
If an under-insured or uninsured driver seriously injured you, a member of your family, other dependents, or occupants of your vehicle, the amount of insurance and the insurance endorsements that you carry, has a sobering impact on your rights.
There Are Mandatory Limits For Automobile Insurance in Ontario.
Each driver has a legal obligation to carry the compulsory two hundred thousand dollars in third party liability. There are options to choose higher amounts of five hundred thousand dollars, one million dollars, or two million dollars worth of third party liability coverage.
Some drivers do not follow the law. Just like how some drivers run a red light or drink and drive; some people drive without insurance or even hit and run leaving you with no knowledge of their identity or insurance status.
Every insurance in Ontario policy has automatic coverage for two hundred thousand dollars in coverage to protect the occupants of the vehicle from an uninsured or unidentified driver. Each driver also has the right to purchase a family protection endorsement, which provides coverage for under-insured drivers, uninsured drivers, and unidentified vehicles. The family protection endorsement covers the owner of the vehicle, their spouse, some family members, and other dependents.
What Happens If an Under-Insured Driver Hits You?
If you are seriously injured in a motor vehicle collision, the at-fault party has two hundred thousand dollars in third part liability limits, and you do not have family protection coverage, there is a cap of two hundred thousand dollars for your damage, paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance.
If you are seriously injured in a motor vehicle collision, the at-fault party has one million dollars in third party liability limits, and you have one million dollars in family protection coverage, there is a cap of one million dollars for your damages, paid by the driver at fault’s insurance.
What if he is covered for two hundred thousand dollars and you are covered for two million dollars?
The first two hundred thousand dollars of coverage would be paid through his insurance company and you could look to your own insurance for the shortfall to a combined maximum of two million dollars (one million, eight hundred thousand dollars). The policies do not stack to create two million, two hundred thousand dollars of coverage.
What if he has no insurance? Or he hits you and runs? Where would the coverage come from if you or someone in your car needed lifelong care due to your injuries?
If the driver is uninsured or unidentified, you can look to the insurance company of the vehicle you are in to pay the first two hundred thousand dollars. The short-fall is then made up by your family protection coverage.
What If There Are Multiple Injured People In The Collision?
If there are multiple injured people in the collision, the limits of the at-fault driver are shared on a pro-rata basis. This means that the at-fault driver’s one million dollar policy limit is divided into several pieces. For example, if your damages are worth $500,000.00 and your passenger’s damages are worth $1,000,000.00, you get $233,333.33 and the passenger gets $666,666.67 of the million dollars. If you have a family protection endorsement of one million dollars, you cannot add the shortfall because your policy matches his policy and he is not under-insured, even though you have to share the limits. If you have two million dollars in family protection coverage, your own insurer has to make up the short fall.
What is The Result?
For serious injuries, the mandatory two hundred thousand dollar amount falls far short of the costs required. When the driver-at-fault’s insurance does not provide the necessary policy limits to pay for serious injuries, you can turn to your own insurance company to provide the balance. This means you must launch an accident injury claim against your own insurance company.
You Need To Know What The Deadlines Are To Make a Claim.
If you need to launch a claim against the offending driver for personal injury, the cut off date is usually two years from the date the accident injury occurred. However if you intend to launch a legal claim against your own insurance company the deadline may be much earlier.
What You Need To Know
The seriousness of the injury may not be fully understood for several months. If you were not aware that the at fault driver was inadequately insured and you wait for a firm diagnosis before you set the process in motion, it can be too late to meet the deadline dates.
It’s a Conundrum
The driver who caused the accident is responsible for paying your costs. If he does not have enough insurance to provide for your needs, then it’s not an option. You could seek the shortfall reimbursement from your own insurance company, if you have enough. If you do not have higher coverage, than the driver that hurt you then that is not an option either. If you do have higher insurance coverage that could contribute to what you need, you need to notify your insurance company, with intent to claim, before the deadline. You need to seek legal advice as soon as possible, to help find out what the policy limits of the other driver are and to put your insurance company on notice of your intent to claim against them.
With the Ontario car accident benefits changes made June 1st 2016, many of us are studying our policies more carefully and may need to seek more damages in a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Ask your insurance agent some questions if you have mandatory coverage or if you have family protection coverage. Find out how much it would cost to get the maximum family protection. It costs less than you might think. Many people are pleasantly surprised to find a small difference between the cost of mandatory insurance and the safer, more desirable choice. If you or a family member is ever seriously injured, it is complicated to make a claim. You need to get legal advice as soon as possible. But, for now, more comprehensive coverage means the best options are still open for you, down the road, if you need them.
If you have been injured in a car accident; you need to contact a reputable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to make sure the at fault driver has enough insurance coverage. Most personal injury lawyers in Toronto offer free initial consultations and “No win – No Fee” arrangements.