A “no-fault” system removes your right to sue for pain and suffering compensation. Instead, there is a cookie-cutter benefits schedule for injuries, which puts a fixed dollar amount to an injury. Insurance companies make their money when claims costs (the cost of your injury compensation – your benefits) are kept low. In a “no-fault” system, your insurance company decides where you fit on that benefits schedule; they call all the shots. They don't have to listen to you, your doctor, or the courts. What they say goes.
There is no unbiased third party to ensure the process and the decisions made by insurance companies are fair. You have no recourse if evidence about your injuries is missed (or ignored) by your insurance company. What's more, a no-fault system means that bad drivers have no consequences. If one hits you, it doesn’t matter. No one’s “at fault.” You get scars. The other guy? He gets a walk. That's just not right!
No-fault insurance makes bad drivers less accountable for their actions and decisions. No-fault protects bad drivers. This kind of system enables careless, bad drivers to stay on the road, since there are little to no consequences for bad behaviour.
In Alberta, you are already entitled to medical insurance coverage regardless of who is at fault for the collision. Your immediate medical care is covered by Alberta Health and/or your extended health plan if you have one. You are able to recover other medical expenses from the car insurance of the at-fault driver, and you have a right to sue the at-fault driver’s insurance company for a settlement that includes your losses and damages for pain and suffering.
Under Alberta’s current system, you have the right to challenge an insurance company’s decisions in court. You can sue an insurance company for damages related to an accident, including things like lost income and loss of opportunity. If you disagree with an insurance company over the amount of compensation you deserve, you have access to unbiased courts to provide an objective assessment of the facts and compensation for your injuries that accurately reflects your losses. Courts exist to uphold fairness, protect the rights of individuals, and to make sure there is a balance between insurance companies and consumers.
Years of good judgment are not treated the same as years of bad behaviour. Alberta’s current system aims to keep the bar high by providing consequences for unsafe driving choices. Research shows that in Alberta over 27,000 people a year are injured in road accidents. 20% of those accidents were caused by speed and aggressive highway driving. Common sense says we must maintain a safe system with deterrents for careless drivers. Fairness says that good drivers should not subsidize the poor choices of bad drivers.
“No-fault Insurance” means that if you are hurt or your vehicle is damaged in an accident, your own insurance company will pay for your losses, regardless of who caused the accident. Losses experienced by other people in the same accident will be covered by their insurance company. If you are a victim in an accident caused by someone else, you would not collect damages from them. If you caused an accident, the victims of that accident would not collect damages from you. A “no-fault” system also removes your right to sue for pain and suffering benefits if you experience an accident. Instead there is a benefits schedule for injuries from an auto accident — like a chart that puts a dollar amount to an injury. It’s basically a document that says, if you break your leg, you get X amount of dollars. This is the way insurance works in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
This is not the way auto insurance in Alberta currently works. Instead, we have an “at-fault” or “tort” system. Under the current Alberta system, damages are paid for by the insurance company of the person deemed to “at-fault” and you have a right to sue the at-fault driver’s insurance company for a settlement.
Life as you know it can change in a split second because you or a loved one is injured in a car accident. If you were in a car accident that was caused by another person’s carelessness or negligence, the responsible party must be held accountable for any pain and suffering that you are experiencing.
Cyclists are often much more seriously injured as a consequence of negligent motorists. A no-fault system would prevent crash victims from seeking appropriate compensation beyond medical coverage, with income loss protection, in particular, getting capped. You'd get what the insurance company tells you you’re entitled to.
Pedestrians who have been struck by motor vehicles usually suffer severe injuries. In a collision, both drivers are protected by their vehicles, seat belts and air bags. Pedestrians have no such protections. It is easy to imagine the damage that a 3000lb vehicle can cause to an unprotected 150lb human being.
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