Life after an injurious event can be daunting. Seeking legal advice is helpful if you are uncertain as to whether you have a claim.
An experienced lawyer can help answer questions about whether you may have a claim under the law; how long it may take; and the type of claims that you may make. Seven points below raise some things that you may want to consider before or after you have consulted a lawyer.
When you are hurt in an accident, remain calm and try to get as much information as possible. Get details about:
Litigation takes time and memories of the accident may fade. Key details like who, what, when, where, why, and how will be critical for painting a picture of the accident for the judge and jury, years later.
An eyewitness can provide important evidence about how the accident occurred, and other things that you did not see. Sometimes it will be very clear as to how your accident or incident occurred. Other times, pinpointing the party or parties responsible for an accident can be difficult years down the line when it becomes a he-said-she-said credibility contest, so having other witnesses present can fortify your case.
Additionally, people who have witnessed your day to day obstacles will be helpful to substantiate the impact of your injuries. These people may be educational instructors, employers, co-workers, friends, or family members, who have witnessed how your life has changed since the accident.
Effective civil litigation in Ontario requires evidence. The more information that is gathered right after an injury, the more helpful it may be to quickly resolving your claim. Some pieces of evidence you may want to gather includes:
Out of pocket expenses and receipts are another form of proof which should not be discarded. These may be payments that you have made outside of your insurance benefits. Such payments may include:
Sometimes you may sign a contract with self-employed individuals who agree for cash payment. If this is the case, ask for a receipt, or keep a ledger to show your expenditures over time.
Lastly, keep track of lost opportunities. These may include:
The symptoms of your injury and how they affect your life will be the central point of your lawsuit and the reason you receive compensation. If you are feeling physical, mental, or psychological effects from your accident, be sure to follow up with an appropriate medical practitioner who can investigate your symptoms.
In Ontario, there is a responsibility to look for solutions for your pain and suffering, so ensure that you are exploring treatment options for your injuries.
In very unfortunate circumstances you may be off work for some time following a serious injury. You may also be doing modified work after an accident, while receiving less income than you otherwise would, had the accident not occurred.
You may want to look into your own private insurance for short or long-term disability payments while exploring other government assistance programs which offer financial resources for food and shelter should these circumstances arise. These alternatives may include:
Personal injury litigation can take years, and there will likely be major changes to your lifestyle following an accident. These changes may include:
These updates can also include changes or improvements to your health: sometimes certain injuries may heal completely, while others will persist. If a person meets the misfortune of re-injury following an accident or incident, they should discuss it with their lawyer as it may have an impact on their claim. Lastly, keep your lawyer regularly updated on important changes as there may be procedures and deadlines that could be important to your case.
Lawyers often encounter claims which may not be necessary, and if carried out would lead to significant costs. It is against the Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers in Ontario to promote or pursue a vexatious or frivolous claim. These claims contribute to a backlog of proceedings in the court system, and it is unfair to the litigants who require legitimate legal recourse following a serious injury.
Therefore, be realistic and truthful about how you were injured and the effects it has on your life. Speak with a lawyer to ensure that the type of claim you are pursuing is appropriate for you. For instance, following a car accident, it may be appropriate to look into private insurance or accident benefits, instead of pursuing a tort claim.
Every case is different and can entail an entirely different set of considerations, based on the nature of the accident, the age of the plaintiff, and a number of other factors. Consult an experienced personal injury lawyer to know what considerations may apply to you before or during a lawsuit.