Akin to car accidents, cyclists have rights when injured from an accident involving a motor vehicle. This includes claiming no-fault accident benefits and recovering damages from negligent drivers.
Action Upon an Accident
In Ontario, here are some immediate steps to take if a motor vehicle hits you while you’re on a bicycle:
- Assess whether you need to seek immediate medical attention. Call 9-1-1 if needed. If immediate attention isn’t required, it may be prudent to see a doctor soon after the accident for potential hidden injuries. Your doctor will advise you of what you should monitor for, as some injuries may not manifest right away.
- Call the police. If there are injuries or property damage, stay at the scene of the accident and contact the local police where the accident occurred. They will advise you on whether they will attend at the scene or direct you to report the accident at a local collision reporting centre. If you feel overwhelmed by the accident and are unsure of what to do, it may be prudent to call the police about the accident.
- Gather information and document the incident. This process includes exchanging driver’s licence, automobile insurance, and motor vehicle information. Even though you were on a bicycle, your auto insurance will be relevant in terms of claiming accident benefits. If you do not have your own auto insurance, you may claim accident benefits from the insurer of the vehicle that struck you. In documenting what happened, take photographs and record witness statements, if you’re able to.
- Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can advise on your rights and obligations. Your lawyer will discuss your options for financial recovery based on the facts of your case, even if the driver didn’t remain on the scene of the accident. Routes of recovery may include recovery from your or the driver’s insurance company, or making a claim under Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund. Also, your lawyer will remind you of your obligations, such as contacting your insurance company about the accident within seven days of the accident. This requirement applies regardless of who was at fault.
There are time limits that generally start running on the date of the accident. As such, speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident.
Your lawyer will discuss the potential for suing the driver of the motor vehicle for negligence, including your role in contributory negligence, if any.
If you will be suing for negligence (i.e. making a tort claim), your lawyer will want to send a notice letter to the driver/owner of the vehicle which struck you, as well as their insurance company. The notice letter will put them on notice that they are responsible for your injuries and losses. The date on the letter will be used as a start date for the calculation of prejudgement interest in respect of pain and suffering, income loss and other kinds of damages.
Generally, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Unlike a claim for accident benefits from an insurance company, the litigation process is a long one, which will likely take years. During that time, focus on your recovery while your lawyer focuses on gathering the information required to advance your case.
Deductible on Tort Claim
If you’re successful in your lawsuit, or settle on an amount, note that in Ontario a deductible may apply against the awarded or settlement amount.
Whether a deductible applies will depend on the recovery amount. If the recovery amount is $126,610.07 or higher, the deductible will not apply. This threshold amount rises every year.
If a deductible applies, the deductible amount is $37,983.33. This amount is established by provincial legislation every year.
In the case of a fatality, accident benefits are paid for funeral benefits and to certain family members and dependents. These individuals may also sue in tort pursuant to the provisions of the Family Law Act.
If you need assistance with your personal injury matter, call Douglas Strelshik Law. For over 30 years, Douglas Strelshik has been representing injured parties, including cyclists, in his personal injury practice.