Unintentional Tort Claims: Understanding Alberta Law

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An “unintentional tort” is the legal term for cases that are more commonly known as personal injury or wrongful death cases. They cover cases wherein:

  • A person has been negligent. That is, they’ve done something they shouldn’t have done, or failed to do something they shouldn’t have done. They’ve failed in a “duty of care” that they had to other parties. 
  • The negligence was unintentional, or the effects of the negligence were unintentional. For example, the negligence could have been the result of a moment of carelessness.
  • The negligence resulted in a loss, death, or injury that was a direct result of the negligence.

There is another class of injury law known as the intentional tort that covers cases where someone has caused harm by taking a deliberate or malicious (though not necessarily illegal) action. For example, a libel claim would be an intentional tort where someone is not really committing a crime, but is nevertheless taking an action which could result in a loss. 

Examples of Unintentional Tort Claims

Most car, truck, motorcycle, cyclist, and pedestrian cases fall under the umbrella of the “unintentional tort.” So do most slip-and-fall cases, dog bite cases, and product liability cases.

The common theme here? An accident that leads to an injury, done by someone who has a duty of care to someone else.

Here’s how this plays out in a common car accident case. When you get behind the wheel of a car, you have a “duty of care” to other drivers to follow traffic laws and to take any reasonable action you can take to prevent accidents. The other drivers who are on the road have a similar duty of care to you.

When someone fails in that duty, say by speeding, running a red light, or driving distracted—and then causes an accident, then they’ve generated an unintentional tort claim the moment there is any damage done. 

If there’s no damage and therefore no loss there’s no tort, but that’s not really the norm for most car accident cases. Most car accident cases at least require the car, your property, to undergo some minor repairs. 

If you get injured then you’ve suffered a far more serious loss and deserve to be compensated for it. 

What to Do When Someone is Negligent

In any case where another party has been negligent you should follow these steps to strengthen your claim.

  • Inform the negligent party (this is automatic in car accidents, since those are hard to miss, but not necessarily in a slip and fall claim).
  • Get contact information from the negligent party, and insurance information if you can.
  • Watch your words. You want to avoid saying anything that would tend to make someone believe you were acknowledging fault or guilt for the accident.
  • Take pictures of the injury and the prevailing conditions. 
  • Get medical care and follow all of your provider’s instructions.
  • Call a lawyer as quickly as you can.

If you are in an auto accident you should always call the police and get a police report. If anyone at all has been injured, it’s the law, and if you fail to do so, or fail to make a reasonable effort to get insurance information from the other driver, then you can be charged with fleeing the scene of the accident.

Steps for Filing an Unintentional Tort Claim

Filing an unintentional tort claim isn’t really a DIY activity. While you can contact the appropriate insurance company yourself and attempt to fight with them, they don’t really want to help you. They will play any number of dirty tricks to avoid paying your claim.

For example:

  • They may demand you give a recorded statement that you categorically do not have to give them, and then ask leading questions in the hopes of getting you to say something that weakens or destroys your claim.
  • They may try to tell you they need you to sign a medical release before they can pay your claim—and then will try to use that medical history against you, to muddy the chain of causality. 
  • They may try to tell you that if you get a lawyer you won’t get paid (this is a lie).
  • They may try to delay you and delay you until the 2-year statute of limitations runs out.
  • They may make a settlement offer, but it’ll be a low-ball offer that they know quite well isn’t anywhere near sufficient to cover your losses.

Fortunately if you contact a personal injury lawyer quickly you can avoid each of these problems. Your lawyer can file the claim for you. If the insurance company tries to contact you, or the other party, you can require them to speak to your lawyer instead.

Because your lawyer handles unintentional tort cases day-in and day-out we know all of these tricks, plus even more subtle ones. We can protect you and save you from hassles. We can also start getting our hands on case evidence before it disappears, strengthening your position. 

When it’s time for a settlement conference you can rely on us to handle negotiations on your behalf, which can triple the amount of money you’re likely to receive even after lawyer’s fees are accounted for. If the tortfeasor (the negligent party and their insurance company) presses the issue, we can absolutely handle the litigation process, giving you your best chance of winning a jury award.

Get Help Today

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, don’t delay. Make your risk-free call to Red Deer Injury Lawyers today. Most of our lawyers have over 20 years of experience handling unintentional tort cases. We’ve helped thousands of Albertans get the funds they need to live their lives after their accidents, and we’ve worked with every type of personal injury case known to the legal system.

Remember, we don’t get paid until we bring your case to a satisfactory conclusion. You don’t have to worry about coming up with a retainer or paying an exorbitant hourly rate. 

Call (403) 269-7777 to schedule a case evaluation today.

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