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Personal Injury Claims

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Personal Injury Claims

Have you been injured in a motor vehicle accident? Under Ontario law, an injured motor vehicle accident victim is entitled to receive monetary compensation (referred to as “damages”) related to the aspects of your life affected by the injury. Personal injury claims are not something you should dismiss. The amount of compensation is based on the severity of the injuries and their effect on your circumstances. Some of the areas considered when calculating the amount of damages are:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Physical pain
  • Mental anguish and emotional suffering
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Disability accommodations for your home and vehicle
  • Caregiver expenses
  • Household help
  • Loss of support and companionship

Some injuries are classified as “minor injuries” -sprains, strains, whiplash, contusions, abrasions, lacerations, and partial dislocation of a joint or organ. Compensation for these types of injuries is capped at only $3,500 in Ontario, and there is little room for movement. Some injuries are classified as “catastrophic”, and it’s obvious that a personal injury lawyer should be retained. But if you have an injury that’s not minor, but not debilitating, you may not know how to proceed. You may have suffered loss of income for a period of time and incurred medical expenses; you may be eligible for compensation in some of the other categories, too. What if your injury doesn’t fall into either the “minor” or the “life-changing” category? In cases like this, many people assume that it’s not worth getting legal advice to help them file a claim. It’s estimated that in Canada, approximately 60% of accident victims settle with their insurance companies without using the services of a personal injury lawyer.

 

 

Why Do I Need Legal Advice?

Auto insurance differs from province to province, but Ontario’s no-fault insurance system means that each driver’s insurance company is responsible to compensate them for their injuries. (If it’s determined that the other driver was at fault for the accident, your deductible will be waived.) Sounds simple enough…but the process doesn’t always go as smoothly as it should. After all, an insurance company makes money by taking in more money than it pays out. That means that it benefits your insurance to keep any damages you receive as low as possible. While you might assume that, because you have a relationship, your insurance company is “on your side,” in fact, that company is actively working to keep the amount of compensation you get as low as possible.

 

Most of us don’t have much knowledge of the insurance claim process, and we may not have a clear idea of what our claim is actually worth. If your insurance agent gives you a figure, you may assume that that is all you deserve. But by relying on the insurance company’s own representative, you may be getting far less money than you’re eligible to receive.

 

Personal injury lawyers often work on a contingency basis. This means that they don’t charge hourly fees during the claims process, rather, they receive a percentage of the insurance settlement. But if you have a smaller claim, you may want to consider paying an “up-front” fee and consulting with a lawyer for an hour or two. A personal injury lawyer can give you an opinion as to what your claim is worth, and can outline the steps you need to take in order to negotiate a fair settlement. (Be sure to get an estimate of the charge before you begin; some lawyers may have a “flat rate” for this kind of advice.)

 

 

Meeting With a Lawyer

In order to make the most of your time with a lawyer, you should come into the meeting with an organized approach. Write down exactly what happened as clearly as you can, including all of the necessary details. Bring a list of any questions you would like the lawyer to answer. Bring all of the pertinent documents, including:

  • Medical records: X-rays, doctor’s reports, prescriptions, list of the doctors who treated you, etc.
  • Police accident report: Any official police records of the accident.
  • Photos: Any photographs taken at the scene, or of your injuries.
  • Insurance documents: Your insurance policy, any correspondence you’ve had about the accident, insurance adjuster report, etc.
  • Receipts: Any receipts for medications, medical equipment, ambulance bills, caregiver costs, etc.

Getting some legal advice about your claim can help you to know what your claim is really worth, and that will help you to negotiate the highest possible settlement. It can also give you a guide for how to deal with each stage of the process, which can be complex.

 

Choose a law firm that has experience in the area of personal injury, and that meets your needs. Many Toronto firms offer services in a number of different languages, for example, and that can be invaluable if you prefer to communicate in a language other than English.

 

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, consulting with a personal injury lawyer should be high on the priority list. A personal injury claim may help you to not settle for less than you deserve – consult a personal injury lawyer today!

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