By far one of the worst mistakes a victim of a personal injury can make is to wait too long to call on experienced personal injury lawyers. Many people make the mistake of thinking that they do not need a personal injury lawyer to manage their case.
Personal injury lawyers are the experts that everyone should have on their side after sustaining a personal injury because of someone’s negligence. No one should try to navigate these matters on their own.
Personal Injury Lawyers Are Available for All Types of Injuries
Most people know that a personal injury lawyer is a good resource after a car accident, however, that is not the only support that they can provide. A personal injury lawyer can be one of the best resources for car accidents, labor-related injuries, and more.
If you have been injured because of another person’s negligence a personal injury lawyer can help. For example, let’s say, you were out shopping, and the shopkeeper failed to clear their sidewalk of ice, you fall and are injured. A slip and fall lawyer can help you to potentially be compensated for your injuries.
Some Key Mistakes Injury Victims Make
Well-meaning family and friends may advise you against calling a personal injury lawyer after a car accident. They may tell you that your accident was not “large enough” to warrant getting a lawyer involved. Unfortunately, this can be terrible advice.
Insurance companies have a team of lawyers on their side. Trying to navigate the issue on your own can be detrimental to the outcome of your claim. Having a lawyer on your side will even the playing field and ensure that you are protected.
It can be a very stressful time after a personal injury. There is a lot of paperwork that needs to be filed, doctor's appointments to keep up with, you may be out of work for a while, it is a lot. Personal injury lawyers can help to contain some of the stresses and manage your claim for you.
As mentioned earlier one of the biggest mistakes is waiting too long to call on a legal professional to help you navigate the system. You can cut out a lot of the stress and focus on healing with the help of experienced personal injury attorneys. You do not have to deal with this on your own.
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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I was injured in a car accident which was not my fault more than 3 years ago. I have just learned that as a result of my injuries I will need surgery and may never be able to work again. Before learning this from my doctor I had believed my injuries were not that serious and I would fully recover. Can I sue the driver that hit me?
Limitations and their exceptions
That is a complicated question. Generally speaking, although there are exceptions, you may commence an action for damages in Ontario anytime up to 2 years after an event, or after you reasonably learned of the consequences of an event. If you know of the consequences of an event where you suffered injuries or losses, you generally lose your right to sue as of the second anniversary of the loss.
There are various exceptions to this rule. Recently, the Ontario Government has abolished limitation periods for victims of sexual assault.
Furthermore, limitations generally don’t apply to people under a legal disability, and that includes minors (people under the age of 18).There is also a legal doctrine of discoverability. Discoverability provides that a limitation period does not begin to run against a person until that person knew or ought to have known of a loss, and in some cases the extent or seriousness of a loss can be an issue.
What should you do?
The first thing you should do is get legal advice from a Lawyer as soon as you become aware that something has happened. There are other shorter limitation periods including notice periods which can be just a few days, arising in some circumstances. A Lawyer can give you advice and help you pursue your rights as appropriate.
Secondly, even if you think too much time has gone by, you should consult with a Lawyer. If circumstances provide an exception to the usual limitation periods, a Lawyer will be able to advise you of this fact and advocate on your behalf.
All cases are specific to their facts and the above information should not be relied upon to determine rights in particular circumstances. Lawyers often provide no obligation free and confidential consultations to prospective clients. So it is a good idea to seek out legal advice from a Lawyer if you have any doubt or questions about your rights.
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.