By: Lucy G. Jackson, Thomson Rogers
Everyday Heroes Kids thanks our sponsors and community members at PIA Law for thier ongoing support
When a child is seriously injured in an accident (for example a car accident, pedestrian or bike accident, slip/trip and fall accident), there are significant repercussions for the entire family. The parents’ priority is to provide support and care to their injured child in order to ensure a speedy recovery. Unfortunately, this often means that life is flipped upside down for everyone else in the household. Parents are taking time off work, there are lots of new expenses for treatment and travel, daily schedules are upended, and sometimes, family members will struggle with their own mental health during such a challenging time.
What options are available to help family members?
Most people are aware that injured accident victims (including minor children) in Ontario may have legal recourse to start a lawsuit if there is someone at fault for the accident. However, parents and other family members should also know that there are additional pathways to access financial supports.
In a lawsuit, immediate family members of an injured child (parents, siblings and grandparents) can advance their own claims pursuant to the Family Law Act. This can include claims for the family member’s own loss of care, guidance and companionship of the injured child if their relationship has changed because of the child’s accident-related injuries; expenses the family member paid on behalf of the injured child (such as the cost of equipment or treatment); and travel expenses incurred in the course of visiting the child while they are in the hospital.
Additionally, if a family member provides services for the injured child (including nursing, housekeeping or attendant care services), then the family member can claim for the monetary value of those services in the lawsuit. Or, if the family member loses income as a result of providing those services (for instance by reducing their work hours), then they can claim compensation for their lost wages.
In theory, a lawsuit can provide family members with monetary compensation, helping to alleviate some of the financial pressures that can accumulate when taking care of an injured child. Unfortunately, it often takes many years before a lawsuit is concluded, meaning that these expenses will pile up before the family can expect to receive any compensation.
There might be additional benefits available if the child is injured in a car accident
However, if the child is injured in an automobile accident (including instances where a vehicle collides with a pedestrian or cyclist), then benefits might be available to family members immediately. Following a motor vehicle collision, the injured child is entitled to start a no-fault accident benefits claim through a car insurance policy. Typically, these benefits will be claimed under the policy of their household, but there are other policies the child an access if the household does not have automobile insurance coverage.
In cases involving an automobile accident, the accident benefit insurer will pay for the child’s reasonable medical and rehabilitation costs. The injured child might need attendant care services, which can include support in their daily living activities, and help with the use of assistive devices, taking medications, and more. While the family can hire a personal support worker or a nurse to provide this attendant care, it is often the family’s preference that a parent (or other family member) provides that care. If a parent takes time off from work to provide reasonable and necessary attendant care services to their child, then they can claim for repayment of their lost income from the accident benefit insurer (up to the maximum amount of attendant care approved by the insurer).
What if family members are struggling with their own mental health following a child’s injury in a car accident?
It is common for family members to experience symptoms of mental distress after an automobile accident. If a family member is diagnosed with an Adjustment Disorder (defined as a group of symptoms, such as stress, feeling sad or hopeless, and physical symptoms that can occur after a person experiences a stressful life event), Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or any other diagnosis as a result of the child’s involvement in the accident, then they can also open their own accident benefits claim with their car insurer. By starting an accident benefit claim, the family member would be able to access funding for treatment. Furthermore, if the family member’s condition impacts their ability to work, then it is possible to also access income replacement benefits paid by the car insurer.
Although parents will rightly focus on the care and recovery of an injured child, it’s important to remember that a health crisis affects the whole family and that there are options available to help other members of the household to receive the support and compensation they need as well.
For more information on how a family member can start their own accident benefits claim, please visit: https://files.thomsonrogers.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/TR_Helping-Family-Members-of-Injured-Motorists_2019.pdf
Thomson Rogers is a proud member of the Personal Injury AllianceTM (PIA Law).
PIA Law was formed more than a decade ago by three of Canada’s leading personal injury law firms — McLeish Orlando, Oatley Vigmond, and Thomson Rogers — with the goal of providing unparalleled legal representation to accident victims and their families.
Lawyers at all three firms have in-depth experience with the specific challenges facing children who have been catastrophically injured, and we are committed to ensuring that young clients have access to all of the resources they will need to reach their full potential. Our lawyers work closely with parents and health care specialists to understand a child’s current and future needs, and to obtain a fair settlement that will provide the appropriate financial supports to meet those needs.
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