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Message from Your Edmonton Injury Lawyer: What to Keep in Mind When Speaking to Insurance Adjusters

Tips When Speaking to Insurance Adjusters

Injured car crash victims unrepresented by legal counsel will often hear from the negligent driver’s insurance adjuster, “You have soft-tissue injuries, so your pain and suffering compensation is capped at about $5,000.” But consider the fact that an insurance adjuster’s job is to settle the case for as little money as possible. When the adjuster is dealing with an unrepresented claimant, that may well mean a fraction of the actual value, for a couple of reasons:

• The insurance adjuster does this for a living and thus typically has a far better grasp of how to assess a claim than the injured layperson; and • Even if the injured victim has some ballpark idea of the value of the claim, the adjuster knows that the chances that victim will recover fair compensation as a self-represented litigant up against an experienced insurance defence lawyer is somewhere between slim and none.


HOW AN EXPERIENCED LEGAL TEAM CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE


McCourt Law Offices levels the playing field by providing an injured car crash victim with experienced legal representation. The negligent driver's insurance adjuster will still have the same goal, being to resolve the claim as cheaply as possible.


However, with one of our injury lawyers on your side, "as cheaply as possible" will become whatever is full and fair compensation. The at-fault motorist's insurer will have the choice to settle for what's fair, or be dragged into court before a judge who will order the insurance company to pay what's fair, plus the court costs, plus whatever the defence lawyer is charging (generally hundreds of dollars per hour).


In assessing a client’s entitlement to general damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life for injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident (MVA), the injury lawyers at McCourt Law Offices look to recent relevant Alberta quantum case authority, which in accordance with the Charter of Rights, binding legal precedent, and the express legislative intent of the Minor Injury Regulation (MIR), restricts the application of the cap to minor sprains and strains that heal relatively quickly. For example:


McLean v. Parmar 2015 ABQB 62: Plaintiff injured in a 2008 MVA, had recovered by about two and a half years later. Even though a certified examiner declared her injuries “minor” and thus capped, the learned trial judge disagreed, holding that a person who does not recover within 3-6 months post-accident by definition has injuries which have evolved into chronic pain, which are not, and in order to be constitutionally valid, must not, be considered “minor” injuries subject to the MIR. This is consistent with unanimous decisions of the Alberta Court of Appeal & Supreme Court of Canada, and with the express legislative intent of the cap. To quote Finance Minister Pat Nelson (who implemented the MIR in 2004), “As I have always said, the cap only applies to minor injuries that heal relatively quickly. The reasoning behind the regulation is based on medical science showing that with fast, effective treatment, about 90 per cent of people with minor injuries will recover within 12 weeks.” General damages for pain and suffering in the sum of $60,000 was awarded. Jones v. Stepanenko 2016 ABQB 295: A 19 year old female plaintiff suffered whiplash-type soft tissue injuries in a rearend MVA. The certified examiner found her injuries to be “minor” and capped pursuant to the MIR, and two other insurance industry hired guns with medical degrees opined that Ms. Jones had completely recovered from her accident injuries less than a year post-MVA. Dr. Salim Esmail disagreed, testifying that the auto accident had caused the plaintiff ongoing chronic pain. The Court accepted Dr. Esmail’s opinion, rejected the opinions of the defence “experts” and awarded the plaintiff $80,000 in pain and suffering compensation.

Stevenson v. Thompson 2017 ABQB 451: A 54 year old female plaintiff sustained soft-tissue injuries in a minimal (approx. 5 km/hr) impact MVA which, in the opinion of her caregivers, evolved into chronic pain. While defence counsel, the defendant’s special doctors and defence junk science “no crash, no cash” studies supported a conclusion that the Plaintiff’s injuries were capped under the MIR, the learned trial judge rejected these entertaining yet unpersuasive submissions and awarded $60,000 in pain and suffering compensation.


CONNECT WITH EDMONTON INJURY LAWYERS NEAR YOU!


The dedicated team of experienced Edmonton personal injury lawyers at McCourt Law Offices is just a call away. Together, we will fight for your right to full and fair compensation. Call us today at (780) 448-0011 or toll-free at 1-877-448-0011 to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our accident injury lawyers in Edmonton. There is no fee until you collect.

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