By Matt Lalande in Car Accidents on January 17, 2022
There’s no doubt that after a serious car accident, you and your family may not know where to turn or what to do. There’s probably a good chance that you might be receiving advice and information from a variety of people – from friends, physicians, nurses and hospital social workers – which can sometimes be more confusing than helpful. If you or your loved one has suffered serious injuries in a car accident, there’s also a good chance that you will have lots of questions that need to be answered, such as who will pay for my rehabilitation? Who will pay for my home modifications? Who will pay for my medications? Who will pay for my therapy? How will we pay the bills? How will we pay her mortgage, car payments insurance or activities for the kids? How are we going to navigate the complex legal insurance and healthcare system? Who should I call?
Statistically, most people have never been involved in a serious car accident or suffered serious injuries. Most people have never been hospitalized for an extended amount of time or spent time in a rehabilitation centre. Most people have never had to deal with the complex trauma of being hurt and away from home. More importantly, most people have never had a hire a car accident lawyer or have had to face a significant legal or car accident related insurance problems. So how does one go about finding the right car accident lawyer?
Finding a reputable car accident lawyer is no easy feat – particularly if you have never dealt with or hired a lawyer before in any capacity. Do you hire an accident lawyer you’ve seen on a Billboard, CP24, a bus, or on a television commercial? Do you hire a car accident lawyer that you’ve heard on 680 News? Do you hire a car accident lawyer off the Internet?
We always suggest that the best way to hire a car accident lawyer is to speak to friends, family members and other acquaintances. Use your own network first. If there are no car accident lawyers in your social circle, then we highly recommend speaking to local attorneys in your hometown who may be able to recommend a car accident specialist.
Do your research and apply due diligence. Remember, the practice of law in Ontario has become highly specialized. Most lawyers are no longer general practitioners, but rather experts in a certain field. If you’ve been involved in a car accident and have suffered serious injuries, it’s important that you the person you hire to represent you is highly experienced in car accident law, Ontario auto insurance and the no-fault benefit regulations. Instead of being persuaded by the media, flash advertising, television commercials and billboards, do your research and speak to people, speak to friends, read reviews, check the firm’s results and call around. We always recommend that you meet at least two car accident lawyers. Interview them both at the side who you feel is best to work with and who will get you the best results.
It’s extremely important that you involve an experience car accident lawyer early in your case. There are many things that need to be put in place immediately after a car accident, including apply for no-fault benefits, hiring your own (and not letting the insurance company hire its own) occupational therapist. Although occupational therapists do work in hospitals, many are self-employed. We work with an occupational therapy team that is the liaison between our firm, your health care needs and the no-fault benefit carrier. They can assist with proper assessments of your home, your requirements, your health care needs and assist in completing the necessary forms for your attendant care and treatment plans. Good occupational therapists can also assist with improving a car accident victims’ function throughout the entire recovery process, from the point of discharge from the hospital onward. Our occupational therapist assist us with ensuring that all your needs are met upon your return home from the hospital and assist in coordinating all services that may be needed by you including rehabilitation professionals and attendant care providers. Our occupational therapy team can also assist with ensuring that your home is modified to accommodate your return home if necessary. In some circumstances, car accident victims require modified environments to assist with everyday activities.
Accident victims that suffer serious injuries require proper discharge planning – and it’s important that you have representation from the beginning of the case to deal with the insurance companies involved. It’s important that all of your no-fault documentation be submitted on a timely basis to your insurance company, that your wages are replaced immediately, and that your immediate needs from both a medical and rehabilitative standpoint are taken care of, financially.
For example, a person that suffers a spinal cord injury in a car accident will need his or her occupational therapist to work with hospital social workers to help set up discharge from the spinal unit in a rehabilitation centre. Housing issues and working with no-fault benefit carriers is time-consuming but essential with discharge planning. For some spinal cord injury victims, once they reached the appropriate level of rehabilitation and are ready to go home, an occupational therapist needs to assess any property be considered to ensure that the environment is suitable and ready for living.
Our car accident lawyers and occupational therapy team will work with discharge coordinators or nurses to make sure that our car accident spinal cord injury clients have appropriate transportation home, ensure that they have appropriate supplies, medications, items and services set in place, such as psychological therapy, physical therapy, wheelchairs and wheelchair supplies, adaptable shower modifications, orthotics and braces, power home bed, no turn air mattresses, lifts, portable ramps, standards, supplies for ADL’s and bladder and bowel, skin care supplies, housecleaning, PSW’s, as well as architectural or housing modifications.
The bottom line is that it is never too early to hard experience car accident injury lawyer – and the sooner, the better.
We strongly advise that when you look for a car accident lawyer in your area, you avoid what is called a settlement mill. Settlement mill type law firms focus on handling a large amount of cases and collision claims rather than a limited amount of critical injury claims that may require a trial. These types of law firms rarely take cases to trial or hire the best experts.They look for quick settlements and often times, and unfortunately, they resolve victims claims for far less than what they’re entitled to.
It’s important that you meet with a car accident lawyer that will not charge you a consultation fee. With our firm, we never charge potential new clients to sit and talk about their case.
Once a meeting is set up, that lawyer (and not his or her clerks, paralegals her assistants) will meet you in the hospital or at your home if you are too injured to come into the office. At our firm, we offer in person meetings and a place convenient to you or your family, at our office, or by videoconference by (Zoom, Google need, FaceTime etc.)
Our car accident lawyers will sit down and review your situation with you or your family and answer any questions that you may have. We would expect that you bring with you documentation relating to ensure a successful and productive meeting with your car accident lawyer including information about the location and date of the accident, your driver’s license, your health card, a police report if you have one, the details and contact information of all your medical professionals, many photographs you have of the vehicles or your injuries, which is contact information and any communication that is occurred between yourself your family and the insurance companies involved.
If we decide to work together, we will go over an engagement letter with you that will describe the terms of the relationship, a detailed breakdown of the legal fees that you will pay at the end your case (only if we are successful) and we will require you to sign health authorizations which will permit us to request your medical and non-medical documentation required in order to prove your case. While some firms require you to complete an intake questionnaire, we prefer to speak to you and your family and have a long conversation, about the events and details surrounding the car accident your serious injuries.
Typically then, our law firm would wait 3 to 4 months after your discharge home to request medical and health documentation. We would contact the at fault driver’s insurance company immediately and place them on formal notice of your intention to file suit, what you must do with an hundred and 20 days. We would then communicate with your no-fault insurer, obtain the appropriate documentation and forms needed to start the claims process, set up a meeting with her occupational therapist, and then, start your case.
Although any lawyer licensed in Ontario can handle a car accident case, it’s important that you hire a personal injury specialist, who specializes in litigating car accident cases. A lawyer who only handles complex personal injury and car accident cases will be much more experienced and knowledgeable with complex Ontario insurance laws then a lawyer who maintains a general practice or practices in other areas of law. It’s also important that when you hire a car accident lawyer you discuss that lawyer’s trial experience. Although many personal injury cases are resolved out of Court, it’s important that you can hire a car accident lawyer who will be prepared to try your case to a judge or jury if necessary.
The takeaway – hire a car accident lawyer who specializes in car accident law and who also has the courtroom experience to try your case if necessary. While many car accident lawyers are successful in settling cases, not all car accident lawyers are able to take cases to trial and win. A car accident victim cannot hope for maximum compensation achievement without a true trial lawyer by his or her side.
Local – we believe it’s best to try and hire a local car accident lawyer. Instead of hiring a firm that is 50 or 60 km away, hiring a local car accident lawyer allows you to set up meetings in person as often as you wish, is dealing with home courts and save you an immense amount of travel time. Also, when you hire a local car accident lawyer you know exactly who you are dealing with. If you decide to hire a lawyer in another city off the Internet or television, you might not get the chance to sit with your lawyer or even worse, it might not be the lawyer you think working on your case. Hire somebody who’s local to you and has a strong reputation in the community….convenience matters.
Reviews – have you read your car accident lawyers reviews? Studies show that reviews are quite circumstantial and normally left when emotions are involved, so they should be read with a grain of salt. It’s important to read lawyer review this however, pay attention to contextual details and specific facts rather than a reviewer’s general impression our ratings. Try to ignore emotional rants and focus on interviews that are positive and critical. Remember, research constantly tells us that people are motivated by helping others make decisions.
Access to experts – while some firms are simply settlement mills, other car accident law firms know how to build a proper car accident case with the appropriate and required experts. It’s important that you car accident lawyer has first-hand contact with the best specialists, vocational specialists, occupational therapy specialists, economists, accountants and economic valuators to assist in the assessment of both your economic and non-economic damages.
Remember, car accident lawyers must present cogent evidence in order to discharge the onus of proving your case. With our car accident law firm, we hire the best experts to calculate every cent of your wage loss that’s owed to you, valuate your loss of housekeeping and home maintenance capacity, your future healthcare costs and all other financial losses that you and your family has suffered as a result of your injuries.
Each case is different. Some cases could take several months while other cases could take two to three years. A case cannot be properly evaluated until a car accident victim reaches maximum medical recovery. Maximum medical recovery means that a physical or psychological plateau has been reached and there would likely not be any further improvement in one’s condition. Once a victim reaches maximum medical recovery or injury permanency, we are then able to retain the appropriate experts to provide us with opinions as to your future prognosis and how your injuries will affect you both economically and non-economically, for the remainder of your life. If a person takes longer to reach a maximum medical recovery – then their case will last longer. Also, the length of a case is also determined by other factors involved, such as the court system, insurance companies, other lawyers’ schedules and the medical doctors involved.
The cost of hiring a car accident lawyer depends on the outcome of the case. Our car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning instead of paying an upfront retainer and paying legal fees by the hour, your car accident lawyer will be paid a percentage of dollars recovered in your case. In other words, what you pay your car accident lawyers is contingent upon the amount of compensation you receive. Most, if not all car accident lawyers in Ontario charge between 25% and 33.3% in a car accident lawsuit.
Personal injury cases are very expensive and there are significant upfront costs for clinical notes and records, specialist records, pharmacy records, hospital and ambulance records, specialists, doctors reports and court costs. In a normal contingency fee arrangement, your car accident lawyer will pay all of these upfront fees. The contingency fee agreement allows clients access to justice without paying any money up front. That being said, most car accident lawyers are very selective with the cases they take on contingency.
There’s no real way to “maximize” your car accident settlement. Each case is decided on its own facts. In a typical car accident case, the victim will claim economic and non-economic compensation. If a person who is terribly injured with orthopedic injuries or brain trauma, there is a likelihood that he or she might not ever return to regular gainful employment. If this is the case, then wage losses, both past and future, can be claimable in the lawsuit. Further, non-economic damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of amenities are determined in a “range” comparable to other cases that have previously been decided in Canada. A good car accident lawyer will advocate for a payment of damages in the higher end of the range, and will build a case with the appropriate medical records and experts in order to justify why his or her client should be compensated accordingly. We always recommend to clients that they simply follow their doctor’s advice, participate in the recommended rehabilitation and do their best – and let us handle the rest.
Matt Lalande and his firm have been practicing car accident law since 2003. Although we represent clients injured in a wide variety of circumstances – we have recovered tens of millions in settlements and verdicts for car accident victims all over southern Ontario – and have helped countless families regain their lives.
Talk to our Hamilton car accident lawyers about your accident to discover if compensation is available to help pay for the enormous expenses your injuries have caused. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident and live in the Hamilton/Niagara/Burlington areas call us today at 905-333-8888 or no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDEtell to set up your free no obligation consultation today. Over the past 20 years, we have assisted car accident victims in Hamilton, Burlington, Ancaster, Stoney Creek, Grimsby, St. Catharines, Welland, Niagara, Sudbury, Milton, Oakville, Toronto, Ottawa, Oshawa and all over Ontario.