If you’re like a lot of victims who are injured in accidents, you probably aren’t entirely sure what you should do next. Whether an injury was caused by a car accident, medical procedure, dog bite, or something else, many victims make the same mistakes afterward. Here’s what they are and how you can avoid them.
Not Seeking Medical Attention
Oftentimes, people who are involved in accidents decide not to seek medical attention. You might think that you’re okay, but it’s always a good idea to either go to the emergency room or to see your doctor if you’ve been injured. Firstly, you want to make sure that you really are okay—many internal injuries or concussions can’t be diagnosed other than by a professional. Secondly, you won’t be able to file a personal injury claim or even prove fault if you don’t have a medical record.
Not Saving Documentation
When you’ve been injured, the last thing you might be thinking of is gathering evidence to file a claim. However, you should always save any police reports, pictures, witness information, medical bills, or insurance estimates in case you end up in court. Even if you think you won’t be filing a claim, it can still be a good idea to hold onto these things in case someone else who’s involved decides to blame you.
Not Hiring Personal Injury Lawyers
You might think that insurance companies will handle everything if you’ve been in an accident, but you should consider hiring personal injury lawyers to ensure that you get proper compensation. You may not be reimbursed for medical expenses, missed work, or other damages if you don’t have personal injury lawyers. Personal injury lawyers will either negotiate or fight for you in court. If the thought of going to court is holding you back from hiring a personal injury lawyer, you should know that most cases (nearly 96%) are settled outside of court.
Signing Documents You Shouldn’t
A lot of people make the mistake of signing documents that they shouldn’t after they’ve been hurt. You may not realize what you’re signing or you may feel pressured by an insurance company or the responsible party’s lawyer to sign. You may even think that you’re on the mend and won’t need to sue. Always talk to a personal injury lawyer or car accident lawyer before you sign anything. You could unknowingly give up your right to sue later or assume responsibility if you don’t.
Thinking It’s Too Late
Sometimes, victims won’t do anything about their injuries because they think too much time has passed. But what if your condition worsens or it takes a while for an injury to be noticed? Consult with personal injury lawyers to find out what the statute of limitations is in your area. You may still be able to file a claim.
After you’ve been injured, you might not realize that you’ve ignored important details or even placed blame on just one person when two people were actually responsible. Make sure to look at what happened step by step so that you don’t miss anything. Personal injury lawyers can usually point out if you’re focusing too narrowly on only one factor. This can make a big difference if or when you need to sue.
Not Considering Emotional Damage
Most people who are injured in an accident focus on getting better physically. However, if you can no longer live your life the way you did before the accident, you may have emotional damage. Many experiences can be quite traumatic, and you don’t want to ignore what you might be thinking or feeling. In some cases, emotional pain and suffering can be more severe than physical pain. Be sure to share everything you’ve experienced with your lawyer so that you can be appropriately compensated.
Personal injuries can cloud your judgment after an accident. While it’s important to focus on getting well, be mindful not to make these common mistakes. Doing so could jeopardize any legal action you may need to take in the future. If you are unsure about what to do or are left with any doubt after an accident, consult with a personal injury lawyer before you do anything else.
What does "no fee unless you win" actually mean and how do most personal injury Lawyers get paid?
Answer: Taken literally and with knowledge of what goes into every account "no win, no fee" is a legitimate statement. That means: Yes, the Lawyer will not get a fee if you don't receive compensation. However, in addition to fees, there are also costs and disbursements.
Costs represent the defendant's legal costs that are due if you get an adverse judgment. These fall on your shoulders and not your Lawyers. Costs insurance can be available in some cases and should be explored in your initial meetings (the earlier you get it, the cheaper it is).
Disbursements are the funds paid upfront by your Lawyer to carry your file. They include things like photocopying, mail/postage, travel costs, filing costs and medical-legal assessments. A Lawyer can run up disbursements in the thousands and if successful, the defendant will pay the value of your claim plus these disbursements. However, if you're unsuccessful, these disbursements are typically due and owed by you. Meaning, if you don't "win" you owe the Lawyer what was spent to carry your file. Unpaid disbursements may also be covered through your costs’ insurance.
Most personal injury Lawyers work off contingency, meaning that they are compensated based on the result. They take a percentage of your settlement. That percentage is typically 30-35% depending on the Lawyer.
The fee isn't as simple as just taking a percentage of the overall settlement. It must be broken down in accordance with what a Lawyer is legally able to take. For instance, they cannot take more than the client receives. They cannot take "costs" which amount to about 15% of the value of your claim and are used to counterbalance your contingency fee.
Here's how it might play out:
Let's say the value of your claim is $100,000. In addition to the value of your claim, the defendant will have to cover disbursements (what was paid to run your file) and costs. A typical settlement could be broken down as follows:
- value of claim: $100,000
- disbursements: $15,000 (including HST)
- costs: $12,319.37
- DEFENDANT'S PAYMENT: $127,319.37
The Lawyer's fee is taken out of the value of the claim and not the defendant's entire payment. So if the contingency is set at 30%, the Lawyer's fee in the above example would be $30,000 + H.S.T.. The Lawyer will take the disbursements as well to cover the funds he or she spent on the file. You're left with the remainder. Here's how it works using the above example:
- defendant's payment: $127,319.37
- disbursements: (-) $15,000 (including HST)
- legal fee: (-) $30,000
- HST on legal fee: (-) $3,900
- IN YOUR POCKET: $78,416.37
The exact calculation used could change depending on the facts of each case. As a note, claims are typically subject to pre and post-judgment interest at a variable rate. This will be added to the defendant’s payment.
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Three weeks ago I was at a retail store and tripped over winter matting near the entrance. I fell and broke my wrist. Today an Insurance adjuster called me. He said I was responsible to look where I was walking but he offered me $5000.00 to help me out as I have been off work. I am on sick leave and have not lost any income. Is there any reason not to just take the money?
Plenty of Reason. Leaving aside what happened, and what you might be entitled to recover as a result of your injuries, it is always a good idea to consult with a Lawyer before taking a settlement proposed by an insurance company. Insurance adjusters work for Insurance companies and they do not approach a settlement based on what you are entitled to. They offer money based on the risk of what you might receive by way of an award. Generally, they will try and settle a claim or potential claim for as little as they reasonable can in order to close off a risk.
A Lawyer will work for you. Many Lawyers offer a free consultation. I find I ask a lot of questions and do a lot of listening during a consultation. I try to give my client an understanding of the legal issues arising in their circumstances, and what the options are going forward.
Assert your rights. Over the years I have come to understand that people almost always benefit from at least consulting with a Lawyer before trying to settle with an insurance company. There is a significant imbalance between a lone individual and a huge insurance company. A Lawyer has the knowledge to help level the playing field. In my experience insurers will see a greater risk when dealing with an injured person who is represented by a Lawyer. Greater risk to insurers leads to better settlements.
What should I do if I am injured and someone else is responsible?
As a litigation Lawyer, I am often retained weeks, months or even years after a client has suffered an injury as a result of another’s negligence. Ideally, if you are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you should contact a Lawyer promptly to review the circumstances of the incident. I routinely meet people for a no obligation consultation to discuss matters such as liability, limitation periods and evidence that must be preserved.
At the scene of the accident, you should take several steps immediately, whether it is a motor-vehicle accident or a slip and fall, a dog bite or injury caused by a defective product:
- Identify who is responsible (i.e. exchange of information). If possible, take photographs of obvious material damage (in the case of a motor vehicle collision, take photos of the other party’s car as well as your own);
- Record via photographs or notes how the incident occurred (e.g. slip fall on uneven pavement); and
- Identify and obtain contact information of any witnesses to the incident – this is crucial, as witnesses can be lost forever if not identified at the scene.
As a Lawyer representing injured people, I have found that taking these easy steps can be the difference between having a long drawn out fight about legal liability and moving to a meaningful discussion about compensation reasonably quickly.
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