Two Ottawa-area women are struggling to access accident benefits after suffering significant injuries in a May 2019 collision. Their personal injury lawyer says the pair’s treatment by their insurers is an example of how ‘motor vehicle victims are being treated during the COVID-19 pandemic,’ according to the Toronto Star.
Claire Trottier, 57, and her daughter Shannon Plante, 36, live together in a group home near Ottawa. They both suffered serious injuries when they were t-boned by another vehicle last spring. Trottier, who was already recovering from a fall at the time of the collision, now uses a walker and cannot eat solid food. Plante, who has cerebral palsy, cannot use stairs and experiences lingering mental health effects from the crash. Both are eligible to receive up to $1 million in accident benefits under their auto insurance policy from Economical Insurance Company.
According to their lawyers’ estimates, it would cost between $363,000 and $1 million to perform modifications to the group home that would Trottier and Plante to live ‘safely and independently, and similar as possible to their pre-accident lifestyle,’ the Star reports. However, in the months since the accident occurred, the municipality deemed the group home uninhabitable. All other tenants have left, but Trottier and Plante can’t afford new lodgings. Their lawyers requested advance money to cover temporary accommodations, which Economical denied.
“In over 25 years of practice we have never had so little access,” a personal injury lawyer representing Trottier told the Star, “and the pandemic has simply made matters worse and given insurers a license to unreasonably deny benefits.”
“We’re not talking about thousands and thousands of dollars in advance payments,” the lawyer added. “We’re talking about – let’s get these people in a rental, let’s pay the rent, let’s get them into a safe place, then do all the extra reports you want.”
Rents paid to Trottier and Plante by the insurance provider would be credited against the cost of future home modifications. However, Economical refuses to provide any benefits until it has performed its own assessment of modification costs, a process that has been delayed by the pandemic. The assessment is currently scheduled for October. If the insureds feel that the benefits they are offered are too low, they will have to take that dispute before the province’s Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT), which is facing its own significant backlog.
In a follow-up email to the Star, Trottier’s personal injury lawyer wrote that the insurance company’s conduct “undermines the purpose and intent of an insurance policy and runs contrary to the Ontario government’s directive to insurers to assist injured persons as much as possible in these pandemic times, especially when they are at their most vulnerable.”
If you or a member of your family is involving in an accident benefits dispute with an insurance provider, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team will provide guidance and support on your road to recovery.
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