While this topic has been discussed previously on our blog, such as in this post, I feel like another post is warranted. Indeed, the simple question seems to come up time and time again: Do I need a lawyer?
This question often seems to come from people who have just been contacted by an “insurance adjuster” who works for the insurance company of the negligent driver that caused the motor vehicle accident, which led to your injuries. The insurance adjuster often tells the victim of negligence that the maximum they can receive for their injuries is about $5,000, because of the “cap” put in place under the Minor Injury Regulation in Alberta. While the adjuster is correct in stating that there is legislation called the Minor Injury Regulation in effect in Alberta, they are misleading in stating the “maximum” you can receive for your injury is $5,000. The truth of the matter is much more complex: only “minor” injuries – sprains or strains that do not cause a serious impairment – are subject to the “cap,” and you are also entitled to amounts not covered by the “cap” put in place under the Minor Injury Regulations. The “cap” also does not apply to any tears in your muscle fibers, ligaments or tendons – these injuries are not always immediately apparent by x-ray, and may require an ultrasound, nor does the cap apply to psychological injury like anxiety, depression or PTSD that resulted from the accident.
(I always try to provide a short answer, but it inevitably becomes a long answer, and typically continues like the following…)
So, If you are fully recovered by the time the insurance adjuster contacts you (usually a few weeks or months after the accident), and the adjuster offers you the “cap” amount, you might not need a lawyer. However, read this post first – you may have other injuries of which you are not aware, or you may be missing some other important issue. And remember: once you settle, you settle for good – you cannot come back and ask for more money if you discover additional injuries in the future.
If, however, you are still in pain and continue to suffer from your injuries when you receive a call from the insurance adjuster, I would advise that you tell the adjuster that you are retaining a lawyer, and contact a Calgary personal injury lawyer to assist you with your claim. You need to make sure you are getting the compensation you deserve. Your unique situation, including not only the diagnoses of the injury, but also the effects that the injury has had and continues to have on work, life and your overall mental and physical well-being, requires a knowledgeable and experienced advocate who can argue for the appropriate amounts of compensation. An injury lawyer can also save you the time and stress involved in dealing with the insurance companies, so you can focus on what’s most important: getting better.