How long will my car accident injury claim take?

You have just been in an accident that is not your fault and have suffered injuries that have immediately affected your work, home and recreational activities.  You are uncertain how long your injuries will persist before your life can return to normal. You are interested in hiring a personal injury lawyer to protect your rights and to ensure that you are properly compensated for all losses suffered as a result of the negligence of another driver.  However, among all the questions you have about the legal process, one question stands out: How long will my accident injury claim take? 

The answer depends on a number of factors, the most important of which I will discuss below.

Nature and Extent of Your Injuries

The most significant factor in determining how long an injury claim will be is how severely have you been injured.  In short, the quicker you recover the sooner your claim can be resolved.

Have you suffered fractures requiring surgery or have you suffered a whiplash type injury to your neck and back?  More importantly, how long will those injuries interfere with your pre-accident daily activities?

Practically, you claim should not be resolved until you have recovered 100%.  Unfortunately, many individuals injured in car accidents never fully recover.  In those cases, your lawyer will want to ensure that the medical evidence indicates that you have obtained maximum medical improvement before considering resolving you case. That often requires you to attend independent medical assessments that may not occur until 2-3 years post accident. 

Effect of Your Injuries on Your Work 

Another significant factor that effects the resolution timetable for an injury claim is whether or not your injuries have altered your ability to work.    

If your injuries do not interfere with your ability to do your job consider yourself very fortunate.  However, if you are off work you are undoubtedly very concerned by the immediate impact on your income and ability to cover your week to week expenses.  Hopefully, the interference with your employment will be short term.

The nature of your work will quite possibly be a contributing factor.  Does your job primarily consist of sedentary work or does it involve heavy physical labour?  Additionally, is your employer able to accommodate either modified work or a gradual return to work program?

As above, the sooner that you are able to return to, and maintain, your pre-accident work duties, the sooner your claim can be resolved.

If your injuries prevent you from returning to work for more than 12 months it may be that you are forced to retrain to obtain work that fits within the physical limitations caused by your injuries.  This will extent the length of your claim and will require many additional medical assessments and quite possibly the assistance of an economist to determine both past and future losses as well as future care costs.

Is the At Fault Insurance Company Prepared to Act in Good Faith?  

While the previously discussed factors seem somewhat in your control, how the insurance company approaches your claim is not.

In fact, the driver that caused the accident may not even have insurance on their vehicle. In such a case you still have an injury claim but it requires involving the Alberta government through The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund

For the purposes of this blog, we will assume that there is valid insurance coverage on the at fault vehicle and that liability for the accident is not in issue.  

In the Province of Alberta you have 2 years from the date of your car accident to either settle you claim or file a Statement of Claim with the Courts.  Prior to a claim being filed the at fault insurer has a bodily injury adjuster handle you claim whether you hire a lawyer or not. Once a claim has been filed the adjuster may continue to directly conduct the claim or may forward the claim to Defence Counsel.

Often your lawyer can resolve your directly with the adjuster through a process of settlement discussion by providing  medical and other supporting documentation that proves you losses and assists with the valuation of your claim

Unfortunately, far too often the adjuster will insufficiently value your claim and a settlement will not be achieved.  Your lawyer will be forced to ask for your claim to be moved to Defence Counsel so that the litigation process can commence.  That will involve a first step called Questioning where you will be examined under oath about your injuries and their effect on your life.  Many other litigation steps may follow with the possibility of revisiting settlement discussion along the way.

Your claim may require the aid of an independent Mediator to help bring about a resolution that is mutually satisfactory to both sides.

Ultimately, in the rarest of cases in Alberta, a trial in the Courts may be needed for closure to your claim.  If so, do not expect that to happen for atleast 5+ years post accident.   



The factors outlined above represent the most significant components/hurdles in the claims process although the list of factors that may affect the resolution timetable is almost limitless and is always claim specific.

As a result, if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and have questions, please feel free to contact me directly either by phone, 780-401-2707, or email joneill@jameshbrown.com  

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