• Dave Shellnutt

Hit by a Car? How to Access Free Health Benefits & Lost Wages

Updated: Mar 17

By this time last year I had hosted dozens of "know your rights” workshops and discussion groups with cycling organizations across Toronto. Given the ongoing pandemic, that is not happening this year. However, with a massive and lovely spike in new cyclists taking to the streets, I wanted to reach out and advise you of your rights in case the unthinkable happens.

One of the most common issues I find cyclists unaware of is what benefits they may be entitled to if they are unfortunately involved in a crash with a car.

Whether at fault or not, if you are involved in a crash with a car you are entitled to Accident Benefit insurance coverage.

Accident Benefits are provincially mandated insurance benefits that provide no fault support to people injured in a car crash. That includes cyclists and pedestrians.

If you are injured, you are entitled to health benefits such as:

  • physiotherapy;

  • concussion treatment;

  • massage therapy;

  • chiropractic care;

  • psychotherapy and other mental health supports;

  • acupuncture and more.

If you are forced to take time off work, part of your lost income will be paid (up to $400.00 per week).

If you require help at home, that can also be covered. From housekeeping to around the clock nursing care, this is all provincially mandated free coverage you could have access to.

Of course the degree to which you are injured impacts the amount of resources available to you. At a minimum, you will receive $3,500 in medical treatment benefits for Minor Injuries (sprains, strains, etc.).

In many cases, injured cyclists do not know to apply for Accident Benefits and access this $3,500 in treatment.

I see cyclists who have been hit, cut off, and/or involved in non-life-threatening crashes with cars do nothing. Despite suffering soft tissue injuries such whip lash, a strained wrist, sore back, bruised knee, etc. That $3,500 in treatment can help you recover and get you back on your bike! Access it!

I have spoken to several injured cyclists who think that since they are not seriously injured, they can't sue the driver for their pain and suffering. That is true, in part. The reason you cannot sue is because “minor injuries” are covered by the no fault Accident Benefits discussed above.

Your right to sue for minor injuries has been replaced with automatic coverage. The hope is that by contributing $3,500 to your recovery, you will get back on your feet rather than having to go months without help as you fight for support in court.

Of course you should always check with a lawyer to see what category your injuries fall into and whether it would be a good idea to sue the driver for injuring you.

After I was hit by a car in a bike lane, I went to the hospital. After I was assessed medically and released, I requested an Accident Benefits application package from the car insurer (in this case it was from my car insurer - if you have your own auto insurance coverage this applies even if the driver was at fault).

I need physiotherapy treatment so I went to Well Calm Therauptic Care and Massage. Well Calm helped me apply for Accident Benefits. They determined the physiotherapy and massage treatment plan I would need to assist in my recovery.

Through the Accident Benefits regime, I now have access to treatment twice a week. Seeking treatment for your injuries is so important. Even minor injuries to take time to heal and recover. That means when you are ready, get some treatment recommendations from your doctor and other treatment providers (physiotherapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, etc.) and follow them.

Being involved in a crash with a fast moving ton of steel is also psychologically traumatizing! Thankfully, treatment for these road phobias and crash related mental health issues there is also coverage under the Accident Benefits regime. I wrote about this here.

Do not ignore the signs of injury. Seek medical attention no matter how minor you think your injuries may be.

From my perspective, it makes sense that most cyclists move past crashes and injuries unaware of the Accident Benefits available to them. We bike so we do not have to drive. We bike because often a car is a luxury. Many of us do not pay for or think about car insurance coverage on our bikes.

I hope I have shed some light on what your rights are and what benefits you are entitled to.

Ride safe friends and contact me if you have any questions: dave@thebikinglawyer.ca

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