Every year in Canada, over 100,000 reported motor vehicle accidents occur. Many of these cause severe injuries and even fatalities. Our clients often ask us a variety of questions when it comes to personal injury claims. A very common one is: what should I do if I am served with a Statement of Claim for a car accident? We at Kahane Law Office understand very well how stressful it can be to have a Statement of Claim delivered to you in person. Continue reading to find out what you should do if you were unfortunately involved in a motor vehicle accident and received a Statement of Claim alleging that you were at fault.
NOTE: If you have insurance, most of the time you just need to give the claim to the insurance company AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. If you lack insurance, then call our litigation lawyers for help immediately on service. In both cases, strict time limits exist.
What Is A Statement Of Claim?
Receiving a Statement of Claim can be a daunting experience. This is a court document that sets out a number of things. For example, this includes:
- What the other party alleges;
- How much they think you owe them; and
- Why they are making the claim;
The Statement of Claim is what starts a court case. When you receive a Statement of Claim, normally the claim names you as the ‘defendant’. The individual or person who started the case against you is called the ‘plaintiff’.
After a plaintiff has filed a Statement of Claim with the court, they have to serve (give) it to you. Usually, service of the Statement of Claim occurs personally. Specifically, a person hands it to you directly. Personal service typically requires that someone (usually a process server) will personally hand you the document or will have left the document with an individual at your workplace or residence. However, if a person lacks the ability to serve you, court rules provide other ways in which service occurs.
What To Do With Claims Served After Car Accidents
A Statement of Claim is usually drafted by a lawyer, but not always. Try to read the document thoroughly so you can get an idea of what the plaintiff wants from you. Review the Statement of Claim for the following information:
- There are usually two parties set out on the first page. Though you will likely be the defendant, you could also be a co-defendant if there is more than one defendant.
- On the Statement of Claim you will find the name of the plaintiff, the lawyer for the plaintiff if there is one, the address of the plaintiff and an address for service. It is important that you take note of the address for service. This is where you will have to send any documents in response to the claim. Probably the most critical thing to note is the time limit for filing a Statement of Defence. The typical time limit is 15 days and the plaintiff can proceed to obtain judgment against you without further notice if you miss this date.
- Look at the issues in dispute. The claim describes and summarizes the matter along with the facts supporting the plaintiff’s claim. The plaintiff will claim what your responsibility is for any damage is or injuries suffered in the car accident.
- Lastly, the plaintiff will ask for a specific remedy. For example, they want money from you to reimburse him or her for any injuries allegedly caused as a result of the accident.
Responding To Claims Served After Car Accidents?
If you ever get into a automobile accident and the someone serves you with a Statement of Claim, most of the time your car insurance company, as governed by the Insurance Act, at the time of the accident takes action on your behalf.
Auto insurance policies in Alberta require the insurance company to defend claims. They also indemnify (pay on your behalf) any judgment or settlement within the policy limits. That doesn’t mean you have to do nothing though. You will need to assist your insurance company during the process by providing whatever information they may need. The insurance company will be making decisions about the defense of the claim and they will need as much information as possible to properly defend you. This will include the selecting of a lawyer on your behalf. Because of this, you should make it a priority to deliver the Statement of Claim to your insurance company as soon as possible so that they can begin taking care of the matter.
Usually, a response must be provided within 20 days of the Statement of Claim being served. If the defense lawyer requests an extension, the statement of defense could be delayed for an agreed upon time. Legally, we refer to the defense response document as the Statement of Defense. A strong response typically denies all claims found in the Statement of Claim. For example, the denials include any allegation of driver responsibility for the accident, that some shared liability exists, that the plaintiff lacks any injury or not as seriously injured as stated, or that the plaintiff lost an ability to work. This often forces the plaintiff to prove everything they have alleged in the Statement Of Claim.
Will I have To Go To Court?
While stressful to receive papers naming you as a defendant in a car accident case, stay calm. Almost all personal injury claims, more than 80 percent in our experience, settle out of court. In some situations, the most favorable settlement requires taking the case to trial. However, your lawyer helps you with each step up to and including the trial.
If the litigation process has to proceed, the lawyer for you and your insurance company will guide you through. They get you ready for the later steps that will take place. For example, these steps include:
- Examinations for discovery – A questioning occurs under oath in a boardroom setting about how the injured party sustained injuries and any attempts to mitigate them;
- Document exchange – You may have to provide the insurance company’s lawyer with information and documentation relevant to the case;
- Pre-trial – The parties meet with a judge to discuss the case and whether a possibility of resolution exists without trial; and
- Trial – You would give evidence on the witness stand about the circumstances that started the claim in the first place.
Often when loss of income, credibility and medical requirements are produced and well documented by the plaintiff’s lawyer – there is a good chance of achieving a fair settlement without going to trial. Although a negotiated settlement can occur at anytime in the litigation process, it will most likely happen after the discovery stage and during Mediation or Pre-Trial. It can also happen as late as part way through the Trial itself.
Seeking Legal Advice For Claims Served After Car Accidents
The personal injury law lawyers and litigation lawyers at Kahane Law Office in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta help with any questions or queries you have. Email us to book an consultation at email us directly here. Please include some of the details in chronological point form.
Injured In An Accident
Our role is to assist you with the advice and guidance you need to be in control of your matter. From minor injuries to the most complex cases, our personal injury group has the experience to handle your claim. The fastest way for you to connect with us is by email. Please email us directly using this email address. However, we also enjoy talking on the phone with our clients too. Call us for help today. In Calgary surrounding area, call (403) 225-8810. In the Edmonton and surrounding area call us at (780) 571-8463.