More Questions, More Answers
Advice on finding the right lawyerPlay Video
What's different about a personal injury lawyer?Play Video
What kind of law firm do I need?Play Video
More Questions, More Answers
If you have been injured through someone else's negligence, you have likely thought about these questions. Unfortunately, even for most lawyers, these are very difficult questions to answer. Obtaining compensation for personal injury has become a complex and highly specialized area of law. The only accurate and reliable way to have your situation assessed is for you to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.
At Oatley, Vigmond all of our lawyers have legal practices dedicated to helping those who are severely injured receive proper compensation for their injuries. We are not only well educated and experienced in personal injury litigation; we are widely recognized as leaders in the field. We are in the best possible position to evaluate your situation. Please contact our office to arrange a meeting.
There is never a cost to meet with our lawyers to assess your situation, and we will not ask you to pay any money before we advance a claim on your behalf.
While there is no substitute for discussing your situation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, the following may assist you in understanding the basic framework within which your lawsuit would proceed.
Do I have a case?
To have a case, you must have suffered an injury that is somehow connected to the careless act of another "person". This other person could be an individual, a company, a corporation, a city, or any branch of the government. Your lawsuit will be against this "person", and who is known as the Defendant.
The strength of the link or connection between your injury and the Defendant's act dictates whether or not you will win your lawsuit. If you do win, the amount of money you recover will be based solely upon the extent of your impairment (i.e. the severity, the long-term implications).
Without an identifiable injury, there is no way to quantify what you should be paid. Without a Defendant who is insured, there is no one to pay you. Without a link between the injury and the Defendant, there is no way to legally compel the Defendant to pay you. If you are lacking any of these three essential requirements ? an injury, a Defendant, and a link between the two ? you may not have a case. Bear in mind the following:
- the full extent of your impairments may take months or even years to fully materialize;
- it is often only a skilful and experienced personal injury lawyer who can recognize all the Defendants whose actions have contributed to your injury; and
- the link between the Defendant's actions and your injury requires an analysis of legal concepts that can only be properly carried out by a personal injury lawyer.
The strength of the link between action and injury can be a challenging thing to assess. To win your lawsuit, the evidence must show that it is "more likely than not" that the Defendant's action caused your impairment. Whether this can be shown varies widely depending on the type of accident. For instance, establishing the link between action and impairment in a motor vehicle accident is often straightforward. On the other hand, establishing this link in a medical malpractice action can be very difficult.
For a very thorough explanation of your legal rights in a personal injury claim, please see Oatley, Vigmond's Legal & Insurance Manual. It can be downloaded from our website, and is available in 9 languages.
How much will I get?
The amount of compensation you would receive is dependent upon your impairment. The more severe the impairment, and the greater the long-term implications (i.e. Is it permanent? Does it prevent you from working? Do you need long term care?) the greater your potential recovery.
The guiding principle of the law is to compensate you for what you have lost because of your impairment. The money you receive would be categorized in three ways: money for pain and suffering, money for lost income and money for expenses or future care.
In Canada, the amount of money awarded for pain and suffering is limited and relatively modest. It is quite different from the U.S. legal system you are likely familiar with from newspapers, television, and movies, in which injured people in some states are awarded millions of dollars for their pain and suffering. If you are severely impaired (e.g. a quadriplegic, or suffering from a severe brain injury) you could expect to receive about $300,000. As the type of impairment becomes less severe, the amount of the award becomes smaller. Courts make an effort to achieve consistency amongst common characteristics (age, sex, occupation, etc.). For instance, if a judge were to assess how much you should receive, he or she may look at other cases involving people similar to yours, with a similar impairment, to see how much they were awarded. He or she would then adjust that amount up or down according to your specific situation.
It is important to keep in mind that it is the Defendant paying you this money, and an award beyond what the Defendant is able to pay will be useless. Most insurance policies carry limits between $1 million and $2 million dollars, and that is the realistic maximum to any recovery you might receive.
How long will it take?
As mentioned above, the amount of compensation you receive is based upon the accident related injury you have suffered. You must prove the cause, extent, and implications of your injury (i.e. Is it accident related? What will heal and what is permanent? Are you employable? Have your career options been narrowed?). The proof comes from doctors, typically medical specialists (e.g. orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, psychiatrists, etc.). Most medical specialists are in high demand and have long waiting lists for appointments. The time spent waiting for appointments, examinations, and delivery of reports can be months.
But doctors are not the sole cause for delay. The insurance company will be eager to minimize the amount it will have to pay, and will also seek out highly skilled, in-demand lawyers to oppose your claim. Added to the complexity is that your claim could be against multiple Defendants. This creates scheduling difficulties and results in an unfortunate, but unavoidable delay in completing your claim.
While it would be unusual for your claim to take more than 6 or 7 years, it would be equally unusual for you to receive a compensation in less than 2 years. We consider two and a half to three years to be about average.
What will it cost?
The cost of your lawsuit is based upon two factors: fees and disbursements. Fees refer to payment for our legal services. Disbursements refer to expenditures made by us on your behalf in advancing your claim. Examples of disbursements would include the cost of medical reports, court filing fees, and long distance telephone and photocopying charges.
When your lawsuit is successful, our fees are paid from the money you are awarded, based upon a pre-determined percentage of the award. Your disbursements are paid by the Defendant. In the unlikely event your lawsuit does not succeed, you will pay nothing. The costs of the lawsuit are recovered entirely from the lawsuit, or not at all. You will never be asked to pay any costs directly, or out of your own pocket.