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Myths and Facts about Personal Injury Law

When you have been injured in a car accident or slip and fall accident, you need to know the truth about your legal rights. Yet, many people have confusion and misconceptions that prevent them from getting the legal advice they need. Several myths and facts about personal injury cases are outlined below.

By getting informed, you or a loved one can take the steps that are needed to move forward with a personal injury case.

Myth #1: I’ll have to pay a retainer fee up front for a lawyer to take my case.

Fact: Most personal injury lawyers in Ontario do not request a retainer fee.

Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay unless you receive funds from the case. The lawyer takes a financial risk by not charging legal fees up front and by carrying certain financial costs (e.g., private medical assessment fees). The lawyer gets paid only if you are paid compensation. This arrangement ensures that all accident victims have access to justice.

Myth #2: I’ll have to go to court if I have a personal injury case.

Fact: About 98 percent of all personal injury cases are settled outside court.

Many injury cases can be settled out of court. It is in the interest of both parties to settle the case as soon as it is practical to do so. A good lawyer will seek to achieve a settlement before a trial is necessary as trials entail risks and they can be expensive. There are alternatives to court, including settlement negotiations and mediation, where a neutral third party helps to facilitate a settlement. A settlement can occur at any time before a judge or jury makes the decision.

Myth #3: Only physical injuries are compensated.

Fact: Compensation can be obtained for injuries that are not physical.

Psychological and emotional injuries also warrant legal compensation. Often, there is anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulty that occurs from a traumatic personal injury.

Myth #4: Most personal injury cases are frivolous.

Fact: Most personal injury claims are brought by ordinary people who have suffered injuries from a legitimate accident.

In Ontario, you have the right to sue for personal injury damages from a motor vehicle accident if you meet a threshold test. To meet the threshold, the test is whether or not the injured person sustained a “permanent, serious impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function” or “a permanent serious disfigurement.” The threshold is much less for personal injury cases that do not involve motor vehicle accidents.

Another deterrent to frivolous cases is the $30,000 deductible that applies to motor vehicle accident claims in Ontario unless the amount awarded exceeds $100,000. Because of the contingency fee arrangement, lawyers will not take any case that comes to them and they will only take those cases where they are confident about achieving compensation.

Myth #5: My case will take at least five years to settle.

Fact: Most personal injury cases are resolved in less than five years.

Many accident cases are settled within the two to four year range, often soon after the law suit commences with a court application. Some cases take longer than five years to settle, depending on the nature and severity of the injuries and the willingness of the parties to settle sooner. The length of time to settle a case depends in part on how quickly you heal, how soon you can resume your employment and regular activities. Most personal injury cases are straightforward, but complexities and delays can occur when liability is under dispute or the injuries are quite serious. If your case goes to trial, your involvement in the case before then may be to complete forms, update your lawyer periodically on your treatment and rehabilitation, attend an independent medical examination and an Examination for Discovery. We will handle most aspects of the case for you so that you can concentrate on recovery from the accident.

Myth #6: A lawyer can tell me how much compensation I will receive.

Fact: No one can tell you in advance exactly how much your case is worth.

A personal injury lawyer can only give you a very rough estimate of the compensation possible because each case depends on unique facts and there are many factors that can affect a case. Some individuals will be impacted less by a personal injury accident, will heal quicker, and they will respond to certain treatments better than others. Personal injuries can affect different people in different ways and sometimes expected recovery does not occur and unexpected recovery occurs. With recognition that each situation has a unique set of facts and circumstances, courts could award individuals with the same accident injuries with different amounts in compensation.

Myth #7: There is one lawsuit per accident.

Fact: A single automobile accident can result in more than one lawsuit.

When a personal injury occurs from a motor vehicle accident, a lawyer will represent you in your tort case against the liable party that caused your injuries. You may also need legal representation to deal with your automobile policy insurer, to ensure that you receive the accident benefits for which you are entitled. You could also have difficulty getting coverage from your long-term disability insurer. As personal injury lawyers, we can represent you in your communication with any and all of these parties.

Myth #8: I don’t need a lawyer. It will be too much hassle and appear litigious.

Fact: You can expect to fare much better if you have legal representation.

Hiring a lawyer to represent you legally should ease your burden and strengthen your case. A lawyer will help to level the playing field with the insurance company. The insurance company has no obligation to inform you of your legal rights, including the strict time limits for compensation that are set out by the statute of limitations. Without a lawyer, you could end up with much less compensation than you would have if you hired a lawyer and be legally held to what you agreed to.

Contact Us at Howard Yegendorf & Associates

If you have been injured from an accident, have unanswered questions and want to determine the best course of action to take, contact us at Howard Yegendorf & Associates. One of our personal injury lawyers can serve you in Ottawa, Toronto or Kingston. The personal injury law firm will make sure that you receive a fair settlement for your injuries. If you reside in Toronto, Kingston or Ottawa, our law firm can assess your case at a free initial consultation. Contact us today at 1-866-303-5118.