Car Accident Injury Lawyers
With tens of thousands of car accidents in Ontario every year, it is no surprise that this is the most significant practice area of personal injury law. There are many factors at play with car accidents, and no two accidents are quite the same. With that said, bad driving comes in a number of different forms that we tend to see in car accidents and personal injury claims.
Often times car accidents are a result of texting behind the wheel, driving too fast, distracted driving, following too close, failing to heed changing weather and road conditions, driving while under the influence, improper lane change, or failing to obey the traffic signals. Sometimes, there are a number of factors at play at once. It is the responsibility of the lawyer and team of paralegals and law clerks, to gather the evidence needed to pin liability on the other side by using seasoned experts and diligent advocacy.
- Valuing a Car Accident Claim
- Our Focus is on Serious Injuries
- Handling a Car Accident Immediately
- Getting You Compensation
- Ontario’s Auto Insurance System
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
Common Car Accident Injuries
Just like there are common fact scenarios, there are also similarities between the types of injuries sustained by accident victims. Unfortunately, serious injuries are common in car accidents. Injuries that lawyers often see as a result of a car accident include whiplash, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, torn ligaments, lacerations, herniated disks, and other types of harm. Often times there are also serious psychological injuries that go along with these physical injuries such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Since psychological injuries are invisible, sometimes they can be more difficult to prove. Every accident victim experiences their challenges differently. This is why it is so important that lawyers do not adopt a one-size-fits-all framework, but rather, lawyers must look at each case with a fresh lens and treat each client like a person first, and not just another file.
Valuing a Car Accident Claim
A question that pops its head up at most initial consultations is “What is my case worth?” At the outset of a claim, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to know what your case is worth. Your claim may include compensation from a number of different headings. We call these “heads of damages”. Some heads of damages may be easier to quantify at the early stages more than others. For instance, it may be simple to calculate loss of wages if you have gone back to work. Medical expenses may be easy to quantify by adding up your invoices. On the other hand, seeking compensation for pain and suffering, future costs of care, future treatment, and loss of enjoyment of life, will be a more complex calculation and often takes some time to pass before being able to fully understand the value. In summary, it will take time passing, and having you well on the road to recovery, to fully understand and appreciate the extent of your injuries and what your claim is worth.
Our Focus is on Serious Injuries
The cases our law firm handles are among the most serious of injuries, including spinal cord injuries, fractures, brain injuries, catastrophic injuries, and wrongful death cases. We work with our clients and the treatment team to come up with a robust and effective rehabilitation and recovery regimen. Serious injuries take serious planning, and often take numerous healthcare professionals and specialists on the file, such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, neurologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, orthopaedic surgeons, and case managers. It is essential to have the right treatment team to ensure you reach your optimal recovery as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Handling a Car Accident Immediately
It is not surprising that following a car accident can be a very difficult and chaotic time for most people, with several different hoops to jump through, and an often, unfamiliar insurance regime to figure out. This is why it is important to hire the legal expertise necessary to make the right decisions with your case at the very outset, before it’s too late.
Firstly, immediately following a car accident you should stay calm. It can be a very stressful time, and it is important to take a deep breath, and remain calm. Before leaving your vehicle, you should assess the situation and make sure it is safe to exit. If you are able to, check yourself for any injuries and ensure that your passengers are safe. It is very critical to remember to keep you and your passengers as safe as possible. Every accident is different, and some take place in more dangerous environments than others, so it is very important to keep a look out and exercise extreme caution when exiting your vehicle and don’t forget to watch your step.
Immediately following an accident, it is also important to contact the necessary emergency responders such as police and ambulance. Even if the accident is not that serious at first glance, it is still important to have it documented properly. For instance, the other driver may end up getting charged which would help your case in suing the at-fault driver. First and foremost, you should listen to their advice.
Collecting as much information as possible about the accident itself can also be helpful to your lawyer. This could include contact information of any witnesses and plate numbers and insurance information from people involved in the accident. If there are witnesses that see the accident, their contact information may help facilitate your lawyer in getting a helpful witness statement for your case. Photos can also be helpful but be extremely careful and be sure to listen to the authorities if they tell you to retreat to safety.
If you are injured, you need to seek medical attention immediately and if you are seriously injured, an ambulance should be called. It is always helpful to get a copy of the ambulance report. Be sure to go over all of your concerns and pain with the first responders. These notes can be important to not only your claim, but to medical professionals that will be treating you shortly after the accident. Do not minimize your injuries.
Once you are physically able, contact a personal injury lawyer and arrange for a consultation. In the meantime, be sure to follow the advice of your family doctor and the other medical professionals involved in your care.
Getting You the Compensation You Deserve for Your Injuries
As one of Hamilton’s most respected law firms, the Bernstein Law Group has the skills and expertise to represent victims in the most serious car accident cases. Our knowledge of the legal and insurance process puts us in strong position to advocate for our clients. Our office will do everything we can, within our strong ethics, to secure the best compensation possible from the insurance company. We represent individuals from all over Ontario, from Toronto, to Hamilton, Brantford, Oakville, and the surrounding area in Southern Ontario. Auto accident cases can be extremely stressful, and it is important that you have a strong legal team behind you.
While in some cases, determining the value of the claim and losses can be relatively straight forward, other situations it can be quite complex. Medical bills, property damage, wage records, and receipts can be easy to calculate. Whereas, seeking compensation for such things as pain and suffering, and the loss of enjoyment of life can take more careful consideration and are less of an exact science and more of an art. If you are suing for income loss and loss of competitive advantage in the labour market, this could involve hiring an expert to quantify your losses. A skilled accident lawyer will be able to draw on their economic loss experts and medical professionals to help arrive at an accurate value of the financial harm you have suffered.
Understanding Ontario’s Auto Insurance System
The insurance process is complicated and a very tedious, time consuming process. Generally speaking, each personal injury claim will most likely have two claims within it. One claim would be against the at-fault driver, and the other claim would be against your Accident Benefits carrier; your own insurance company.
Statutory Accident Benefits (SABS) are set by the provincial government under the Insurance Act of Ontario. These basic benefits are compulsory for anyone driving in Ontario, and are meant to cover certain costs when someone is in an accident, regardless of who is at fault. These benefits are not just for the driver, but for any person who is injured in a motor vehicle collision, as well as certain relatives or dependants of any person who is injured in a motor vehicle collision.
Statutory Accident Benefits cover a variety of damages, including, income replacement benefits, non-earner benefits, medical and rehabilitation benefits, attendant care benefits, housekeeping and home maintenance benefits, caregiver benefits and expenses. Accident Benefits is only available with motor vehicle related accidents, and not with certain other types of accidents such as slip and falls.
While Accident Benefits can provide some immediate relief through the aforementioned benefits, the other component to your case is your Tort claim. The Tort claim involves suing the at-fault driver, and therefore is only available if someone else is at fault, or partially at fault, for your injuries. With your Tort claim, you may be able to get compensation for your pain and suffering, loss of income, loss of competitive advantage, loss of enjoyment of life, out of pocket expenses, as well as another other damages including topping up the benefits for treatment that are not covered in full by the Accident Benefits.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of red tape suing in Ontario, and a fair number of laws and regulations that work to benefit big insurance companies. For instance, in Ontario, all Tort claims from motor vehicle accidents are subject to over a $38,000.00 deductible with pain and suffering, which steadily increases with inflation for any settlement unless the pain and suffering claim exceeds approximately $129,000, which also increases with inflation. In simple terms, accident victims typically do not receive the full value of their claims for pain and suffering and the deductible works as a gatekeeper, preventing many injured victims from advancing a viable lawsuit if their injuries are less serious. There is also a legal threshold, that the injuries must be serious and permanent.
The Auto Insurance system is convoluted and difficult to navigate, even for experienced lawyers. If you have been injured in a car accident, or know a loved one that has been injured, it is imperative to seek legal advice. Our law office handles the most serious injury cases, and we get great pleasure helping our clients get better and get the compensation they deserve. We handle all sorts of insurance claims, but motor vehicle collisions are our main focus.
You can access the Insurance Act of Ontario here: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90i08
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a personal injury lawyer charge?
Prior to retaining a personal injury lawyer, it is important to have a clear idea of how much you will have to pay for their services. In most cases, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning you won’t pay unless there is a settlement in the end, or you are successful at trial by winning the case. Contingency fees can range and it is important that you pay a percentage in keeping with industry standard. Your lawyer will also most likely cover the costs upfront for you for such things as expert reports, investigators, and court fees. If you do not hire a lawyer, you will be responsible to cover these expenses until settlement is reached and they can be several thousand dollars.
The lawyer’s proposed fee typically varies, depending on a number of factions such as the nature and complexity of the claim, the expense involved, and the likelihood of success. Since personal injury lawyers usually work on a contingency basis, they are usually very careful about the cases they take on. At the Bernstein Law Group, we also work on a contingency basis with competitive rates, and we take on cases we feel have a good chance of success. It is noteworthy to indicate that while most lawyers charge a contingency fee, and it may make the most sense for the client, a lawyer must offer clients the option to pay an hourly rate instead of a contingency fee. Your lawyer should meet with you to review the retainer agreement in details and answer any questions that you may have.
Are personal injury lawyers worth it?
If you are seriously injured as a result of an accident, there is usually too much at risk to take a chance at self-representing. A personal injury lawyer will know what to do to help you and get you the best compensation possible. When you sit down with your lawyer, they should be able to understand your situation and explain the process and plan of action.
Personal injury lawyers have experience dealing with insurance companies and their hired legal teams. The insurance company is not on your side. Although they may come off friendly, they do not have your best interests in mind. Their job is minimizing your compensation, while your lawyer’s job is maximizing it. When you hire your lawyer, you are paying for the experience and expertise in dealing with insurance companies.
You are also paying for the lawyer’s experience in gathering the appropriate evidence to position your case in the best way possible. A personal injury lawyer will know how to gather the right evidence, and will know how to examine it, weigh it, and argue it. Your lawyer will hire the appropriate experts to advocate your case.
Lawyer’s also know the law. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to research the law and use it to help prove the damages of your case. When you hire a lawyer, you give yourself a fighting chance against these large insurance companies. Your lawyer is there to help protect your interests and achieve the best possible compensation for your injuries.
If I hire a personal injury lawyer, will I have to go to trial?
After an accident, injured victims often wonder what the court process will look like. Many injured persons have never been involved in the claims process and are unsure of what to expect. One question that is often asked is, “If I bring forward a claim, will the claim ultimately end up in court at trial?”. It is important to understand that just because you hire a lawyer, it does not mean your case will automatically go to court. There are a number of different stages in every injury claim, and a number of opportunities to attempt negotiation. The court process is designed to encourage settlement if at all possible. Parties will often try to negotiate settlement, usually right up until the weeks and even days before a trial.
Trial can be stressful, costly, and risky for all those involved. There are circumstances where it may be necessary to go to trial, usually to determine difficult issues, or if one party is not being reasonable. For the most part, injury claims resolve through settlement throughout the claims process. Regardless, an experienced lawyer will prepare for trial as if trial happen to force the hand of the other side into a reasonable settlement.
What should I bring to my initial consultation on personal injury?
At the initial free consultation, a potential client meets with a lawyer to evaluate the merits of the personal injury case, reviewing the strengths and weaknesses. This is a time to answer those stressful questions that have been weighing on your mind, and hopefully, your lawyer can give you some peace of mind with their answers. The initial consultation is very important for everyone and allows your lawyer to obtain a better understanding as to how the motor vehicle accident occurred, the nature of your injuries, the treatment involved, and the course of action moving forward. Just like your lawyer must be prepared, it is important that you show up as prepared as possible as well.
Generally, you should bring anything that is important to the case. If you have a copy of the police report, you should bring that with you. It is also helpful to bring any correspondence from the insurance company that you have to date. You should bring any medicals or reports that you have so far, such as hospital records and the ambulance call report. If you don’t have them that is fine, and our office will be able to get them if we are retained. If you happen to have any photos, bring them. Anything you think might be relevant; bring them. It is better to be safe than sorry, and show up overprepared, rather than underprepared.
Additionally, it is helpful if you write out a list of questions that you wanted answers to. Take advantage of the time you have with the lawyer to see if you get the answers you are looking for. At our office, we like to take as much time as needed at the initial consultation to ensure that all of your questions are answered.
Do you need a lawyer after a car accident?
Accidents come in all different shapes and sizes. In most cases, having a lawyer represent you can help ease the stress and put you on the right track to receiving fair compensation. You may want to hire a lawyer if you are injured as a result of a serious accident, and you require medical treatment. For the most minor of car accidents, with trivial injuries, it may not make sense to commencing a long contentious law suit and you may not find a lawyer willing to take on that type of case if the claim is not viable.
Lastly, if you are at fault for the accident, you will not have a Tort lawsuit. If it turns out the other drive would like to sue you, your insurance company will retain a lawyer and you should speak to your insurance company immediately. Personal injury lawyers are here to help you get fair compensation for accidents that are not your fault, or at least not fully your fault. If you are partially at fault, your claim is not barred, and you could still bring a lawsuit which will be apportioned according to the amount of fault on the various parties. By hiring a personal injury lawyer, you will be protected as much as possible from any suggestion that you were the one to blame, or partly to blame, for the accident. Your lawyer will investigate the accident, and do their best job to ensure liability of the accident is properly determined.
How long do you have to get a lawyer after a car accident?
The time spent immediately following a serious car accident is often met with anger and frustration, on top of the pain of your injuries. While it is extremely important to immediately seek help and care for yourself, it is also important to realize that seeking a legal recourse has time limits and your best course of action is to consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to protect you from missing any time limitations.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
If you or a loved one has been seriously injury in a car accident, the Bernstein Law Group offers a free no-obligation consultation and free evaluation of your case with our car accident lawyers. At our law office, we understand that every case is unique, and avoid taking a one-size-fits-all approach. We set you on your way to recovery, and make it our goal to alleviate any other stress, so that you can focus on getting better and taking proper care of yourself.
At the Bernstein Law Group, we have the knowledge and skills to get you the most out of your claim, while giving you the best opportunity to recover from your injuries. We offer services across Southern Ontario, including Hamilton, Toronto, Brampton, Oakville, Mississauga, Brantford, Stoney Creek, Burlington, and the surrounding areas. We also handle other type of accidents such as motorcycle accidents. Call now, and speak to our auto accident lawyers, for a free consultation.
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