Communication Is Key When Meeting with a Personal Injury Lawyer in Ontario

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Communication Is Key When Meeting with a Personal Injury Lawyer in Ontario
Meeting with a Personal Injury Lawyer
Did you know that the initial meeting with a personal injury lawyer in Ontario is almost always free? If you’ve been injured in an accident, don’t hesitate: contact a personal injury law firm today, and learn more about your options. Make sure you work with a lawyer whose practice focuses on personal injury cases; these lawyers understand the insurance system, the legal system, and the medical system, and will make sure that you get the compensation you deserve.
Before meeting with a lawyer, gather together all of the relevant paperwork, such as medical reports, police reports, eyewitness accounts, and photographs of the accident scene. In addition, write a detailed account of what happened, from your point of view. Then make a list of questions you may have about the process of filing a claim or a lawsuit. In the meeting, assess how well you can communicate with the lawyer: communication will be key as your claim goes forward. 

Terms to Know
Your lawyer should be willing to explain anything you don’t understand, but it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with some of the terminology used in personal injury cases. Here are some common terms:

Accident Report: The formal report of the accident, usually written by a police officer. You should obtain a copy of yours before meeting with a lawyer.
Arbitration: An alternative to going to trial, arbitration is the hearing and settlement of a dispute between a plaintiff and a defendant by a neutral third party.

Claim: This may refer to your request to an insurance company for your injury, or to a civil action (court case) relating to physical or mental harm caused as a result of your injury. 

Complaint: The official document that starts a lawsuit; it includes what wrongdoing the plaintiff is accusing the defendant of. 

Contingency Fee: Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. Unlike other lawyers, they do not charge hourly rates, but instead will receive a percentage of any settlement you receive. 

Damages: This refers to payment received as compensation for your injuries. In Ontario, these payments may include compensation for:
o Medical expenses;
o Pain and suffering;
o Death;
o Permanent serious disfigurement;
o Permanent serious impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function;
o Lost income and/or loss of income capacity (also known as pecuniary damages);
o Housekeeping and home maintenance services; and
o Property loss.

Defendant: In civil law this term refers to the person being sued, usually the person who caused the injury (and their insurance company.)

Duty of Care: The requirement that a person act toward others with the watchfulness, attention, caution, and prudence that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would use. If a person’s actions do not meet this standard of care, then the acts are considered negligent.

Judgement: The final decisions in a court case, which bring a resolution of the issues and end the lawsuit.  

Liability: Legal responsibility for one’s acts or failure to act; an obligation one is bound to by law to perform. 

Litigation: The process of taking legal action.

Negligence: Failure to use a degree of care considered reasonable under a given set of circumstances.

Negotiation: In this context, to negotiate means to settle by discussion and mutual agreement. Negotiations regarding a settlement are common in personal injury suits; the accident victim and the personal injury lawyer meet with the insurance adjuster in order to reach an agreed-upon amount that both sides will accept.