What’s the Difference Between a Settlement and an Award in a Personal Injury Case?September 30, 2022
The Difference Between Awards and Settlements
If you have been injured in an accident through no fault of your own in Ontario, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. This compensation may be obtained either through a settlement or an award. Understanding the difference between a settlement and an award before you determine if you would like to start a personal injury claim is important.
What Would the Personal Injury Compensation Cover?
After you are injured in an accident that was no fault of your own, you may recover costs for medical bills and lost wages.
In addition, you may also be eligible to receive compensation for:
- emotional suffering,
- mental anguish,
- physical pain,
- disability accommodations,
- loss of companionship, and
- even to cover your diminished quality of life.
You have two methods for obtaining this compensation –
- by filing a claim which could result in a settlement
- or filing a lawsuit that would result in an award compensation.
This is why it is important to understand the distinction between a settlement and an award in Ontario.
Filing a Claim for a Settlement
When you file a claim with an insurance company, they will likely try to negotiate a settlement. When this happens, the person who caused your injury will not be involved as the insurance company will fully represent them. The claims process is much simpler than a lawsuit, with an obvious difference between settlement and award.
Basically, a claim is filed with the insurance company of the person at fault and must usually be filed within 24 to 48 hours after the accident. You can have a lawyer file the claim for you. An investigation will be conducted by the insurance company. A Letter of Demands is sent to the insurance company, and, after their investigation, they will review the factors and then begin negotiating the settlement award.
It is up to you whether you settle the matter or decide to file a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit for an Award
Although the ease of filing a claim is a beneficial difference between settlement and award in Ontario, insurance companies may not offer enough to cover the costs of your injuries and future treatments.
Often, a lawsuit is filed once all attempts to negotiate a settlement have failed, although some serious injuries may go directly to a personal injury lawsuit. This may be the case should the injury lead to death. It is also common when the other party denies they were at fault.
In Ontario, you can file a lawsuit if you think the insurance company is acting in bad faith, but that will need to be proven in court. For a lawsuit, you will need to hire a lawyer who will file a Statement of Claim. The lawyer for the other party will then file a Statement of Defense to which your lawyer will file a Reply that will include your final pleading against the Statement of Defense.
Another difference between settlement and award is that the law requires a three-hour meditation after the Reply is filed. At the mediation, your lawyer will provide the other party with a brief that is an outline of the entire case, and you will be required to attend the mediation.
After the mediation is Discovery in which both parties must provide documents as sworn affidavits. A Settlement Conference will take place in front of a judge before the trial as well.
If the case continues to trial, the lawyers will argue before a judge and jury. Witnesses will be required and, if the jury decides the case has merit, an award will be made.
Get the Help You Need
Although the difference between settlement and award seems much simpler if you go through the settlement step first. But, you want to be sure that you are getting the compensation for your injuries that will cover your costs and provide you with the funds you need to adequately recover.
This means that even if you choose to settle the case, you should consult with a lawyer to be sure the insurance companies are acting in good faith. If you choose to move forward with a lawsuit, you will be required to use a lawyer for the process.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can provide you with advice and counsel regarding the law, what your options are and whether it is more beneficial to settle or to fight for a claim. The court system is confusing, complicated, and stressful. A lawyer can help you avoid that stress and manage the entire process on your behalf.
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