WHAT IS A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM?
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 for the accident and what are the damages? Liability simply means which party, or parties 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, but not limited to:
- Pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life;
- Out-of- pocket expenses;
- Past lost income;
- Earning capacity;
- Cost of future care and medical treatment;
- Future loss of earnings and loss of income;
- Pre-judgment interest; and
- Legal costs.
Personal Injury Claims Process
The first step to a lawsuit 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 lawsuit 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 attempt to 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 have 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 to set your case down for discoveries. Discoveries are the process where each side has the opportunity to question a witness from the opposing 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 it. 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 overview 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 lawyers’ 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, totaling $40,500.00, which is over 40%. That is just one example of what to look out for. Personal injury cases can take several years and therefore it is important to be sure you are with the right law firm and ensure the retainer agreement you sign is fair. Personal injury lawsuits can result in significant settlements, but only if the job is done well.
Slip and falls, car accidents, medical malpractice, and other types of harm, can result in serious injury such as brain injury, spinal injury, fractures and other types of harm. You may be able to recover compensation for your pain and suffering (also known as non-pecuniary or general damages), medical care (which is not covered by the healthcare system through OHIP), and loss of income (also known as special damages). All of these heads of damages are dependent on the severity of the injuries and your personal circumstances. For pain and suffering, the Supreme Court of Canada has set out the law, and generally the awards for these types of damages are lower than what you see in the United States. With that said, the damage award (or in other words, compensation) in Canada can still be significant depending on the facts of the case and the extent of your injuries. Case law in Canada through the various courts is what helps lawyers quantify how much a claim is worth. For car accidents, we have a no-fault insurance system in Ontario, meaning on top of being able to sue the other driver; you may also be entitled to accident benefits. With that said, there are added barrier to suing the at-fault driver such as a significant deductible.
Our retainer agreements are straightforward 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 help with your recovery while also protecting your case. Our goal is to provide the best representation possible in Ontario, Canada, and ensure that our clients' legal rights are protected at all costs and that the injured party receives the best result possible. Insurance claims can take time and be stressful, and our job is to make the process as bearable as possible while maximizing your compensation. Some law firms act for both plaintiffs and insurance companies. We do not act for any insurance companies and have made it our life passion to help the “underdog” and level the playing field.
We represent the seriously injured in Ontario and are able to handle some of the most serious catastrophic cases. We accept cases including those involving brain injuries, spinal injuries, fractures, psychological injuries and represent clients with complex issues. In Canada, personal injury law is notoriously complex, and helping seriously injured accident victims is what we do. Regardless of how complex the case is, we still work on a contingency basis, which means we will not take a fee unless we win the case with a settlement or at trial.
We love what we do, and we love caring for our clients. We look at our cases as more than just a paper file, but rather a unique person with individual needs, finding him or her self, in a very difficult situation. We make sure our clients receive the medical care and attention they need, and work towards a resolution that will get you fair compensation.
If you have been in a car accident, or suffered harm in some other way, you deserve an experienced personal injury lawyer to look out for your best interests. Our law firm offers free consultations so you can meet our lawyers and decide if we are the right fit for you. We believe that all clients should be able to meet with a number of lawyers before signing a retainer. We know that suffering a serious injury can be extremely difficult and following a motor vehicle accident or other accident can be a very trying time for an injured victim and their family. That is why we make it one of our missions to make this process as seamless as possible for our clients so that they can focus their energy on getting better, and leave the legal process up to us to navigate.
We are happy to offer our services in Toronto, Hamilton, Oakville, Brantford, Ottawa, Burlington, and the rest of Southern Ontario. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury, contact our law firm, for a free evaluation of your Tort claim and Accident Benefits claim. Every accident victim deserves fair compensation for their injuries if they were caused by someone else's negligence. Personal injury law can be challenging to understand, and our lawyers are here to help answer your questions.
Contact Bernstein Law Group now to discuss your case and get you the results you deserve.
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