UPDATE: An SAAQ spokesperson has contacted Global News to clarify that Betty Ann Sosontovich’s file has not been closed. “Certain parts (of her file) are still under analysis,” Mario Vaillancourt said. “She has received some compensation,” he added, but would not comment further as the case is before the courts.
A Pointe-Claire resident who was hit by a distracted driver more than one year ago is fighting Quebec’s automobile insurance board (SAAQ) for compensation.
The SAAQ closed her file last December after ruling she was fit to return to work. Her lawyer is contesting the decision and condemning the government’s outdated laws.
“When you have an accident right now, what happens is that the SAAQ doesn’t cover all the fees, so you end up having to take money out of your pocket to pay for your treatment,” lawyer Sophie Mongeon said. “It causes a lot of frustration.”
Betty Ann Sosontovich felt that frustration first hand after being hit by a distracted driver while walking to her mother’s home on Easter Sunday in March of 2016. The SAAQ agreed to offer her compensation for rehabilitation but eventually, it closed her file last December.
She recently launched an online fundraising campaign to help pay for treatment and make up for lost wages.
“I feel stuck because I’m unable to work there’s no money coming in,” Sosontovich told Global News. “My savings is going lower so I have to ask for a lot of help.”
Sosontovish sustained severe injuries after the accident, including a double fracture to her right leg and several sprained ligaments in both legs. She has spent an estimated $10,000 on physiotherapy and psychological treatment and hopes the SAAQ will reverse their decision. “I still need an MRI and bone scan,” Sosontovich said. “My lawyer is concerned because I have bone fragments floating around in my ankle.”
The law firm representing Sosontovich would like to see the SAAQ’s laws updated, to increase the maximum coverage for treatments and to avoid cutting people off before they’ve fully recovered.
“She had very bad injuries to her legs and I think it was under estimated so we have to prove and show that her case needs more treatment and also that it left her permanent impairment that stops her from doing her normal work,” Mongeon said.
The bureaucracy involved in contesting the SAAQ’s decision often adds insult to injury, according to her lawyer.
“It’s a lot of documentation it’s a lot of papers to fill out so at one point it gets so complicated and you’re in a bad position financially, physically, mentally,” Mongeon told Global News.
The Pointe-Claire resident moved in with her mother shortly after the accident, to help make ends meet.
“She’s hit a brick wall as far as any help she’s looking for so that makes it difficult to pick up and carry on with your life,” her mother Ann Sosontovich said. “It’s always difficult when your children are suffering.”
The driver was never charged and even though the family contacted police after the fact, it was ruled an accident.
Her lawyer estimates it will take eight or nine months before the case makes it to the administrative tribunal. In the meantime, Sosontovich hopes other drivers will think twice before taking their eyes off the road.
“Driving should be a privilege and you have a responsibility” Sosontovich said. “You might think texting and driving and distracted driving is no big deal but to the person on the other end, it is a big deal. This is a lifelong journey for me now to get better.”