In the unfortunate event you or a loved one are seriously injured, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. To do so, you or your loved one will be required to seek a personal injury attorney or personal injury lawyer, to help make the claim. If this is your first time seeking legal counsel, chances are you will have a few questions. The following is an overview of what to know and what you can expect upon making a personal injury claim.
What constitutes as personal injury?
Personal injury encompasses any injury causing physiological or psychological harm to the body, which is caused by the negligence or fault of another. Some common personal injury cases include:
- Slip, trip and fall accidents
- Animal bites
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Defective products
- Brain injuries
- Burn injuries
- Wrongful death
- Construction accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Work related injuries
If you're unsure whether or not your injury should be compensated, contact a personal injury attorney for further consultation.
How long do I have to make a personal injury claim?
It's important to make your claim as quickly as possible after your accident. There are time limits, called statues of limitations, surrounding the period you have to make your claim. If your statute of limitations expires before you make a claim, you will no longer be allowed to file a lawsuit. These statues of limitations will differ depending on your specific case, so it's important to contact a personal injury lawyer or personal injury attorney as soon as possible to determine this time period.
Can a personal injury attorney assist me with insurance claims also?
Yes. In fact, it is probably best you contact a personal injury attorney before talking to your insurance company. A personal injury lawyer can ensure your insurance company gives you proper compensation. Your insurance company may also try to refuse compensation based on issues surrounding the accident. If this happens it will be important an experienced personal injury attorney review your policy to make sure no areas of the policy have been compromised and only the necessary documents are obtained and sent.
What are the payment methods?
Usually your personal injury attorney will meet with you for a free half hour consultation. During this consultation the personal injury lawyer will discuss your personal injury claim and determine whether or not he/she is the right fit for your case. If so, they will either decide to take on the case for a fixed rate or they may offer you a contingency fee agreement. A personal injury claim is one of the only areas in Canada where lawyers are allowed to take cases on a contingency basis. With a contingency fee, the lawyer assumes the risk of the case and does not get paid unless the case is won. If the case is won, the lawyer will take a predetermined percentage of the settlement. This allows those who do not have the upfront funds for a lawyer to still fight for their personal injury claim. It also means a lawyer believes in the case enough to assume a contingency risk.
How can I choose the right personal injury attorney?
It's important you choose the personal injury lawyer who will best represent you and your case. During your consultation with a personal injury attorney, ensure to ask who will be handling the case. Sometimes your case can get delegated to other lawyers, so you want to be sure you talk to the person who will be handling your case directly. Next, you should find out how experienced he/she is with personal injury cases; you will want to find a lawyer who specializes in this area of law. It's also important to discuss their preferred fee method; this is usually either a contingency agreement or a fixed rate. Those who charge on a contingency basis will be more invested in your claim, as they have a risk in the claim also. If they do charge on a contingency basis, you will want to find out what their percentage fee is and whether or not there are any additional costs involved. You should also ask them for an estimated time frame. Although a personal injury claim case can be delayed due to unforeseen outside factors, you want to be sure your personal injury lawyer has the time for your case and is not going to put it off. You may also want to ask the lawyer for an estimation of the value they feel you may be eligible to receive and the chances of reaching a settlement before trial. Lastly, find out how involved you will be in your case. Make sure the personal injury attorney will contact and update you, so you stay informed about the progress of your case.
What is the process like?
It is unlikely your personal injury claim actually make it to court. The majority of the time (almost 90%) personal injury cases are settled before they go to trial. However, in Ontario, the process for a personal injury claim case usually goes as follows:
- File the claim and/or lawsuits related to the claim.
- Obtain and produce any and all information and documents related to the case.
- Set a trial date.
- Have a pre-trial conference, where you can discuss aspects of the case including settlement options. Often during this stage you will be able to reach a settlement, signifying the end of your case.
- If you do not reach a settlement during the pre-trial conference, your case will then go to trial either before a judge and/or jury.
How long will the personal injury claim take?
This will all depend on your lawyer and your specific case. It will also depend on several factors including the following:
- The type of injury you've been afflicted with.
- How much cooperation you receive from the opposing, their legal representatives and their insurance company.
- The complexity of your case.
- How long it takes to obtain proper evidence and documentation.
- Whether you are able to settle before the trial or not.
A personal injury claim can be settled at any time, before or after the trial. However, more often than not, personal injury cases settle before trial. During your complementary consultation with a personal injury lawyer, he/she should be able to give you an estimated time for your case.
What happens if my case is lost?
If your personal injury claim case does not settle before the trial, you and your personal injury attorney will be required to go before a judge and/or jury. If your case is lost during this trial you will not be eligible for the compensation you were seeking. If you and your personal injury lawyer had a contingency agreement, you will not be required to pay his/her fees as he/she has assumed that risk upon signing the contingency agreement. However, there can be other expenses or legal fees involved in a lost case. It will be important to fully understand any and all fees you may be responsible for, before signing any legal agreements.
What types of damages can a personal injury claim recover?
Although sometimes it can be difficult to fully assess the compensatory value of a personal injury claim, the following damages may be assessed and recovered:
- Lost wages.
- Cost of living with a disability.
- Repair/replacement of property.
- Funeral expenses.
- Pain and suffering.
- Medical expenses (present and future).
- Loss of consortium.
What will the personal injury lawyer require to build my case?
Again, this will depend on your case and on what damages you are trying to recover. Some documents you or your personal injury lawyer may be asked to obtain and provide may include:
- Medical examination documents/records.
- Medical receipts.
- Photographs of your injuries.
- Photographs of the accident site.
- Police reports.
- Witness reports.
- Specifications of the machinery/vehicle involved in the injury.
How do I begin the process of making a personal injury claim?
If you have an injury you feel you should be compensated for, begin by contacting an experienced personal injury attorney. Often times, a personal injury lawyer will offer a free half hour consultation to new clients. Take this consultation to have the personal injury lawyer or personal injury attorney review your situation and advise you about the future of your case.