WHAT IS A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM?
A formal court process typically starts when a plaintiff files a civil claim at court. Sometimes it is advantageous to settle a claim before it reaches this process if both parties are able to reach a fair resolution.
Personal injury claims usually have two main issues: who is liable and what are the damages? Liability simply means which party or parties is/are at fault for the injuries sustained by the plaintiff(s).
What Kind Of Damages Are Considered Personal Injury?
Damages on the other hand, are the sum total of all of the losses that a person has suffered as a consequence of the injury. This includes, inter alia:
- Pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life;
- Out-of- pocket expenses;
- Past lost income;
- Earning capacity;
- Cost of future care;
- Future loss of earnings;
- Pre-judgment interest; and
- Legal costs.
Personal Injury Claims Process
The first step to a law suit for personal injury damages is to develop a thorough understanding of the case. This includes a fact-finding exercise as to how the accident happened and gaining an understanding of your injuries. It will also include a review of your background and medical history. Our law office will request all of your medical records that are relevant and will conduct a thorough investigation as to what harm you have endured. We also gather other records such as your employment file, OHIP summary, and any other documents that may be relevant in evaluating and advancing your claim. Our law firm will also become actively involved in making sure you are getting the treatment you need to attain your fullest recovery.
As the file moves along, and unless there is a strong and fair settlement offer proposed from the defendant, one of the next steps in a law suit is to advance a formal claim. The first step of the formal claims process is to draft what is called a “Statement of Claim”. This document generally will set out the facts of your case along with the compensation you are seeking. This document is one of the most important parts to your case and it is absolutely critical to be completed properly.
The other party will then file a Statement of Defence responding to your various claims, and likely denying liability every chance they get and will undermine your injuries.
There are other documents that may be filed at this time, and it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to ensure you have met all of the appropriate time-lines and filed the correct documents in proper form.
If your claim has not settled sometime shortly after the claims process is commenced, the next step is set your case down for discoveries. Discoveries is the process where each side has the opportunity to question a witness from the other side. Therefore, the other side will want to ask you a number of questions ranging from what happened at the time of the accident, to what your daily activities are at the moment. Discoveries are generally an opportunity to quantify damages and get a better understanding of liability.
If the claim does not settle before or shortly after discoveries, the next step may be attempting settlement through mediation or discussions with the other party. Alternatively, it may be set down for trial. Once the matter is set down for trial, there will be a settlement conference arranged and the court will provide an assessment of the case and possibly take another shot at resolving the case. If it doesn’t resolve at this stage, it may end up going to trial, which involves a substantial amount of preparation.
While in no way is the above an exhaustive list of the steps of the proceedings, it does provide a general overview of some of the expectations of advancing a claim. It is a general over view and is not legal advice. When we sit down and meet with our clients, we provide a better idea of what to expect in a lawsuit. One of our main goals is to keep our clients well informed along the way.
How Much Is a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Just like any professional service, lawyers will range in how much they charge. There are also different arrangements that can be made such as billing by the hour versus paying pursuant to a contingency fee agreement. A contingency fee agreement in simple terms, the lawyer is paid a percentage of the settlement upon resolution of the claim. Since lawyer’s practices vary when it comes to personal injury retainer agreements, it is important that you know exactly what you are paying. Sometimes law offices can make these arrangements very complicated with a hidden fee structure that the client is not made fully aware of.
For instance, some lawyers will claim they charge 15% percent of your recovery and that they keep the costs. Therefore, if the case settles for $70,000.00 damages, and $30.000.00 in costs, essentially the lawyer will walk away with $10,500.00 (15% of the $70,000.00 in damages) and $30,000.00 in costs, totalling $40,500.00 which is over 40%. That is just one example of what to look out for.
Our retainer agreements are straight forward and easy to understand. We understand that this may be the first time you have needed a personal injury lawyer, and we don’t want to confuse matters more than they already are for you. At our law firm, we make sure we do not take advantage of our clients in any way whatsoever, and take extra caution in ensuring everything is done in an ethical and transparent fashion. At the Bernstein Law Group we strive to achieve excellent customer service, while advocating for our clients rights to get them the best result possible.
We Work With You, Not Insurance Companies
A successful action will demonstrate and prove that the defendant(s) are liable and that the injuries sustained are through the fault of the defendant(s). When your file is opened with a lawyer, typically a lawyer will contact the defendant’s insurance company and put them on notice of the claim.
At Bernstein Law Group, we stay closely connected to your network of medical professionals as well as introduce you to some that we highly recommend. While on the road to recovery, our lawyers strive to encourage your recovery while also protecting your case.
Contact Bernstein Law Group now to discuss your case and get you the results you deserve.
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