TORT v. SABS
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Ontario, there are two kinds of claims you can make to compensate for your losses: accident benefits and tort. Although you are legally entitled to bring both claims, there are significant differences between them from what losses they cover to who provides them and how to obtain them and understanding the difference can not only help you maximize your financial recovery but more importantly, can also help you with your injury recovery.
Accident benefits are intended to compensate for expenses related to treatment of injuries and provide income replacement during your recovery. You can claim from your auto insurer; if you do not have auto insurance, you can obtain these benefits through the insurance of the other person involved in the accident.
All standard auto insurance policies in Ontario provide accident benefits under the Statutory Accident Benefits Scheme (SABS). You are entitled to claim them regardless of who is at fault for the accident. All policies provide the same basic benefits:
- $3,500.00 medical and rehabilitation expenses for minor injuries (such as cuts and bruises)
- $65,000.00 combined medical and rehabilitation expenses for more serious, non-catastrophic injuries (such as a broken limb)
- $1,000,000.00 combined medical and rehabilitation expenses for major, catastrophic injuries (such as paraplegia or blindness in both eyes)
- Income replacement of 70% of gross income per week up to $400.00
- Non-earner benefits of $185.00 per week for up to 104 weeks
- Medical examination costs up to $2,000.00 per exam
You can purchase increased benefits to cover increased medical and rehabilitation expenses, income replacement, caregiver and home attendant benefits, death and funeral benefits. Your insurance broker can best advise you on what additional accident benefits you may need to fit your situation.
You will need to apply with thirty (30) days of the accident for SABS and your qualification for benefits, and the treatments and expenses that will be approved under your benefits may vary.
Tort claims are intended not only to compensate for many of the same expenses as accident benefits do, but also to compensate for other losses that SABS does not. These are the claims brought against the driver and other persons at fault for your accident by a Statement of Claim in the Superior Court of Justice.
Tort claims are generally broken into two categories: special damages and general damages. Special damages include losses that have been incurred before trial and can be readily calculated in dollar figures. The most common claims for special damages because of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident can include:
- Medical expenses incurred because of injuries sustained in the accident;
- Housekeeping and caregiver expenses incurred because of injuries sustained in the accident;
- Loss of income
- Property damage
Special damages are those may continue to be incurred after trial and require more detailed and even expert evidence to be calculated as a dollar amount.
The most common claims for special damages in motor vehicle accident claims can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Future medical and treatment expenses
- Future loss of income and loss of earning capacity
Your immediate family members can also make claims under the Family Law Act for their financial losses related to care, guidance and companionship as a result of your injuries.
Tort claims are subject to a two-year limitation period to issue a Statement of Claim from the date of the motor vehicle accident. It is therefore crucial to contact one of our experienced lawyers at Alemi Law Group as soon as possible after an accident to obtain advice about your legal rights and what steps you may need to take to protect them.
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