How Long Will it Take to Settle My Ontario Accident Case?

We are personal injury lawyers who meet with hundreds of accident clients every year.  We know that if you have been in a collision involving a motor vehicle, either as a driver, passenger, cyclist or pedestrian, you want to know how long it will take for your case to result in compensation for you.

Every case is different but here are four facts that will dictate the timeline you can expect.

Fact One: What type of injury do you have?

Not all injuries are the same when it comes to measuring the time involved to get to a personal injury settlement.  Some injuries are more obvious than others.  For example, fractures or other “objective” injuries have a somewhat predictable recovery.  Their lasting effects are easy to predict because they are so common.  If you have an objective injury like that, it may be easy to settle your case early because we can assess what your case is worth without waiting to see what ultimately happens to you.

Other injuries may result in a longer timeline. If your injury is progressive so that you have not reached maximum medical recovery, we may have to wait.  If it is unclear whether you will need surgery, we may have to wait.  In these situations, there is a risk of being short-changed if you settle before this type of injury has stabilized.  You do not want to settle your case too early and be under-compensated if your medical recovery is worse than you hoped or predicted.

Fact Two: Have you returned to work?

Loss of income or lost wages can be the most important and most valuable part of a personal injury claim, so it is vital to maximize this aspect.

If you have returned to work, it may be possible to settle your case earlier because it is not necessary to predict or guess what your total loss of income will be.

For example, if you are still off work, but you expect and hope to return to work sometime in the future it can be difficult to negotiate enough compensation to cover all your lost future income.  What if you settle on the hope that you will go back to work but your injury prevents you from doing so?  You will be shortchanged.

Another important factor is getting the appropriate medical confirmation of your inability to return to work. We often must wait a long time before your doctors will provide a strong, conclusive opinion that you will not be returning to work.  Settling before you have that information risks under-compensation.

Fact Three: Do you have permanent injuries?

Under Ontario’s Insurance Act, you can only sue for pain and suffering after a car accident if your injuries are permanent.  For many types of injuries, it takes significant time before you will be able to prove that your injuries will meet that part of the legal threshold to sue in Ontario.

Note: this rule does not apply to injuries from other types of accidents such as slips and falls.

Fact Four: Have you contacted a personal injury lawyer?

Involving a personal injury lawyer early in the process after your accident may give the lawyer a chance to make an early settlement with the insurance company directly before you start a lawsuit.  Settling before we start a lawsuit can be a much faster process than a lawsuit, although it is not appropriate or possible in every case.

If you contact a lawyer too close to when the limitation period expires (usually two years from the date of the accident), there may not be enough time to negotiate a resolution with the insurance company’s adjuster.

When we are close to the 2-year deadline, we normally must start the lawsuit.  Once a lawsuit starts, cases do not usually settle before examination for discovery.  This can add a year or more to the process.


To speak to an experienced Ontario personal injury lawyer call 416 445 3529 for a Free Case Review.

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