An inclination to lay blame is almost inevitable when vehicle accidents occur. The more serious the damage and injuries, the greater the need to identify the negligent party in order to attain fair compensation for the accident victims. In some cases, it is not just ‘the other guy‘ (or girl) that becomes the opposition in an accident suit; injured passengers may bring a law suit against their driver if that person’s actions were responsible for their injuries. There are two main options for compensation available to injured parties.
Anyone who has been injured as the result of a motor vehicle accident, including drivers, passengers and pedestrians, as well as their dependents and certain relatives, may be eligible for benefits under Ontario Insurance Laws. Injured parties should submit an Application for Accident Benefits to their personal insurance company as soon as possible after the accident occurred. Individuals without an insurance policy can submit an application with the insurer of their spouse or the person upon whom they are dependent. If a victim has no access to insurance, the application should be sent to the driver’s insurer.
Medical and rehabilitation costs, income replacement and caregiver expenses are some of the expenditures for which an accident victim may claim insurance benefits. In Ontario, accident benefits are available to all injured persons including the person(s) who may have been held responsible for the collision. However, some benefits will not be available if drivers, and even passengers in some instances, were in contravention of the law at the time of the collision.
Passengers and drivers injured in an accident who were not responsible for the collision may also sue the responsible drivers/owners for damages. ‘Damages’ refers to how severely a plaintiff has been injured. They generally fall into two categories: loss of income and pain and suffering. Pain and suffering may be psychological as well as physical and, in Ontario, injuries must be serious and permanent to be eligible for compensation. In the case of a lawsuit, injured parties are required to make a statement of claim within two years of the accident.
In June 2009, Sabanayaky Sathasivam, the plaintiff, was injured while travelling as a passenger in a vehicle driven by Shobana Kandasamy who was insured by State Farm. The accident occurred when Kyle Craddock attempted to make a left turn but was forced to make an abrupt stop as a result of the actions of an unidentified vehicle. The Kandasamy car subsequently hit the Craddock vehicle. As a result of the collision, the passenger, Ms. Sathasivam suffered various injuries and made a claim for $1 Million in damages plus interest and costs. Ms. Sathasivam made a claim against Ms. Kandasamy, Mr. Craddock and the unidentified vehicle; she contends that negligence on behalf of all three drivers caused her injuries. Further, she asserts that State Farm is liable to compensate her for damages since the policy states that it will pay damages to the plaintiff if losses in an auto accident are the result of negligence of the owner/operator of an unidentified vehicle.
Ms. Kandasamy’s insurer, State Farm, filed a motion for summary judgement denying that Ms. Sathasivam’s injuries were the result of negligence by the unidentified driver. The purpose of the summary judgement would be to determine whether there is any basis in law for the plaintiff’s claim and thus, a necessity for a trial against State Farm. State Farm asserted that one or both of the two defendants, Kandasamy and Craddock will be found at least 1 per cent liable since there is an onus on drivers to maintain a safe distance and drive reasonably, presumably allowing them to stop before colliding. If either of the two defendants is found even partially responsible, State Farm would not be liable to make any payment, with respect to Regulation 676 subsection 265(1) of the Insurance Act.
State Farm submitted a ‘Request to Admit’ to both defendants, Kandasamy and Craddock to each admit at least 1 per cent liability. As evidence, State Farm included a copy of the motor vehicle accident report and an affidavit in support of the submission. However, as the affidavit was missing relevant portions of the transcripts from the various parties’ statements, it failed to comply with Rule 4.06(2), 20.02(1) y.
Neither Kandasamy nor Craddock accepted any liability for the accident. Each argued that the accident was caused by the other. As the evidence brought forward by State Farm failed to convince the court that this case could be fairly and justly adjudicated at this time, the court declared that there was a genuine issue requiring a trial. State Farm’s motion for summary judgement was dismissed accordingly. State Farm was ordered to pay $2000 of the plaintiff’s claims for costs in the amount of $3407.50.
A driver should not be surprised when a passenger injured in their vehicle sues them for damages if they were responsible for the accident. Any person who has incurred severe and permanent injuries due to another person’s negligence will feel justified in seeking compensation that will alleviate the costs and suffering associated with their injuries. In the case of death resulting from a car accident, the passenger’s families may sue the responsible party. Determining fault and negligence may be a complicated and lengthy process, even though a passenger, such as Ms. Sathasivam, had no blame in the accident. Rastin and Associates are experienced personal injury lawyers who regularly guide clients through the claims process to achieve the best possible compensation for them. The process begins with early advice about the potential success of your claim and the medical expertise needed to achieve a proper diagnosis and culminates when clients have procured the settlement they deserve.