By Joel Zanatta
The Cycling Lawyer
One of the most common issues I find cyclists unaware of is what benefits they may be entitled to if they are unfortunately involved in a crash with a car. To find out what benefits are available to cyclists in Ontario, I reached out to our Ontario partner David Shellnutt, who is the founder of the Toronto law firm The Biking Lawyer LLP.
Dave advised us that accident benefits are provincially mandated insurance benefits that provide no fault support to people injured in a crash with a car. That includes cyclists and pedestrians.
If you are injured, you are entitled to health benefits such as:
If you are forced to take time off work, part of your lost income will be paid (up to $400.00 per week).
If you require help at home, that can also be covered. From housekeeping to around the clock nursing care, this is all provincially mandated free coverage you could have access to.
Of course, the degree to which you are injured impacts the amount of resources available to you. At a minimum, you will receive $3,500 in medical treatment benefits for Minor Injuries (sprains, strains, etc.). If you are more seriously injured you could receive $65,000.00 in benefits or more.
“I see cyclists who have been hit, cut off, and/or involved in non-life-threatening crashes with cars do nothing despite suffering soft tissue injuries such as whip lash, a strained wrist, sore back, bruised knee, etc. That $3,500 in treatment can help you recover and get you back on your bike! Access it!
I have spoken to several injured cyclists who think that since they are not seriously injured, they can’t sue the driver for their pain and suffering. That is true, in part. The reason you cannot sue is because “minor injuries” are covered by the no fault Accident Benefits discussed above.”
Your right to sue for minor injuries has been replaced with automatic coverage. The hope is that by contributing $3,500 to your recovery, you will get back on your feet rather than having to go months without help as you fight for support in court.
Of course, you should always check with a lawyer to see what category your injuries fall into and whether it would be a good idea to sue the driver for injuring you.
If you have been hit by a car while cycling, start by requesting an Accident Benefits application package from the car insurer (if you have your own auto insurance coverage this applies even if the driver was at fault).
Seeking treatment for your injuries is so important. Even minor injuries take time to heal and recover. That means when you are ready, get some treatment recommendations from your doctor and other treatment providers (physiotherapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, etc.) and follow them.
In addition to treatment for physical injuries, there is also coverage under the Accident Benefits regime to assist you with crash related mental health issues you may suffer from.
Do not ignore the signs of injury. Seek medical attention no matter how minor you think your injuries may be.
For more information about your legal rights as a cyclist in Ontario, you can reach David Shellnutt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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