Québec CITY, June 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Over the past year the Québec
Ombusdman analyzed 361 complaints about road accident victim compensation by
Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ). Forty-five percent of
these complaints-almost one in two-proved to be founded.
    The complaints we examined involved a number of problems such as long
waits for medical opinions or approval of home assistance, decisions that were
not adequately explained, unjustified refusal to reimburse the costs of
medication or travel, illegal collection means, and deficiencies in telephone
    These wrongs directly affect the lives of citizens. Accident victims
unable to return to work must wait two to three months on average for SAAQ to
issue a medical opinion, for example. This unreasonable wait time delays the
payment of compensation for lost wages, with the result that victims not only
suffer the trauma of the accident, but also severe strain to their financial
and family lives. When victims have trouble understanding why decisions are
reached, it can affect their decision whether or not to appeal. Unjustified
refusals deprive citizens of compensation they are due and force them to take
further steps to assert their rights.
    "We must not lose sight of the disruption this causes in the daily lives
of citizens involved in road accidents," notes Québec Ombudswoman Raymonde
Saint-Germain. "They must deal with health problems, lost income, and
interrupted studies. SAAQ must assume its responsibilities with regard to
quality of service for these people who, temporarily or for longer, depend on
state assistance for various aspects of their lives. It must also assess the
impact its procedures have on people's lives and seek to respect the basic
rules of justice."
    In 2006-2007, all road accident victims benefited from the collective
scope of some of the Québec Ombudsman's actions. Some problems were solved or
are currently being solved, such as putting an end to illegal collection means
and correcting problems hampering telephone access.
    In 2006 SAAQ put in place a three-year action plan reviewing its methods
and practices. The Québec Ombudsman will continue to monitor the
implementation of this plan closely. "It is important to remember that SAAQ
administers a public system of compensation that was designed to make
citizens' lives easier. Our findings from 2006-2007 show that there remains
much work to be done," concluded Ms. Saint-Germain.
    -%SU: CPN,LAW
    -%RE: 1

For further information:

For further information: Dominique Bouchard, Information Officer, (418)
643-2688, Cell: (514) 346-2643,
dominique.g.bouchard@protecteurducitoyen.qc.ca; Source: The Québec Ombudsman

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