Whether you have suffered an injury from a car accident, a serious slip and fall, or an unfortunate medical malpractice incident, you might contemplate whether you have a claim or whether to initiate one. Below are a few points that you may want to consider before consulting a lawyer for the first time. If you have already initiated a claim, the points below may also raise questions that you may want to ask your legal representative if you had not had a discussion about them in the past:
Dealing with a personal injury claim on your own can be daunting. After reporting an incident to the relevant authorities, you may be approached by personnel from a business, or individuals from an insurance company for a lot of information. You may be left completely in the dark as to what your rights may be or what the rules of practice and law may require. No matter what the personal injury claim is, there will be many sharp turns, and having an experienced lawyer by your side can make the journey less daunting.
Complicating the process, certain claims must be made within a designated period of time. For many claims in Ontario, the time to take legal action may fall within a two-year time period. However, the expiration time to initiate a claim can also depend on the type of action or even the age of the claimant. Furthermore, if you find yourself outside of a limitation period or an expiration date, there is the possibility that an experienced lawyer may still be able to uncover new avenues to take to pursue a personal injury claim.
Depending on the type of claim, specific steps also need to be taken. For instance, if you suffer an injury on city property in Ontario, a claimant only has 10 days to notify the city in writing.
Additionally, an experienced lawyer can help navigate the complexities of a personal injury claim with multiple defendants. One of the difficulties a lawyer can help with is pinpointing which parties may be responsible for a claim and to what extent. Navigating multiple defendants independently can be tricky since each defendant will likely argue that they are not responsible, or that they are only responsible for a fraction of the total fault.
The decision of whether to bring a personal injury claim may be difficult. Consult a lawyer as soon as possible, and find out what options you have available to you and what claims you can make.
Should you pursue a claim for accident benefits or compensatory damages? If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in Ontario, you may have the option to pursue both.
Accident Benefits, also called a First-Party claim, is a provincial regulation of benefits amongst insurance companies. Accident benefits provide compensation to accident victims in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of fault, if you, your passengers, or pedestrians suffer injuries.
For an accident benefits claim, depending on your circumstances, you could be entitled to:
Depending on your circumstances, there are also limits as to how much of each benefit you have access to. For example, if your accident is perceived to be a minor injury, as outlined in the Minor Injury Guideline you will be subject to a limit of $3,500.00 of medical or rehabilitation treatment. While someone who is Catastrophically Impaired, under the legal designation, will have access to medical rehabilitation and care to a maximum of $1,000,000.00.
When you sue other parties in Ontario in a tort or Third-Party claim, money is awarded to a plaintiff to compensate for damages, injury, or incurred losses. Compensatory damages are awarded where losses occur due to the misconduct or negligence of another party.
Depending on your circumstances, you may seek general damages for pain and suffering; a loss of income, a loss of competitive advantage; or other special damages. Special damages include direct losses which are quantifiable, some of these losses include: past and future out-of-pocket expenses for treatment or housekeeping, as well as home maintenance or attendant care bills.
Like accident benefits, there are built-in limits to some general damages claims. For example, when you sue another driver for damages in Ontario, there are limits on compensation and deductibles on damages. Plaintiffs are subject to a threshold regarding the level of impairments suffered as well as a monetary deductible. The monetary deductible in these claims increases each year for inflation. As of 2019, the deductible is close to $40,000.00.
If you have a child, dependent, or family member who also experiences pain and suffering following your accident, it may warrant a Family Law Act claim, for which they could also recover compensatory damages. A Family Law Act claim is also subject to its own deductible, which increases each year for inflation.
You should also talk to your lawyer about other benefits or forms of social assistance that might be available to you. Depending on your circumstances, you can look into Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program, Employment Insurance, or private insurance. Exploring all the options available to you can help you through a difficult time.
Your Personal injury claim could take years to resolve. If there are major changes to your lifestyle following an accident, be sure to inform your lawyer. These changes may include:
These updates can also include changes or improvements to your health. 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. Keep your lawyer regularly updated on important changes, as there may be procedures and deadlines to follow, depending on the change in your situation.
Based on the particular circumstances of your case, experienced counsel familiar with personal injury claims can advise you of whether an offer is reasonable or not. This decision of whether you should go to trial or not will depend on a number of circumstances, including:
An experienced lawyer can help navigate you through a difficult time and can help to assess the strengths and weaknesses on your claim and advise you as best as he or she can. It is important to speak with a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the benefits scheme and the compensation laws in the Province.