By Kevin Chan in Car Accidents on April 24, 2022
Thousands of Ontario motorists are injured in traffic -related accidents every year, leaving many victim with debilitating economical and non-economical life-long injuries that in some cases require ongoing care and compensation.
For many car accident victims, being involved in a serious car accident is a life-changing experience. Victims of car accidents can no doubt suffer a wide-array of physical injuries leading to long-term disability, and elevated psychological distress levels. Many victims are left with extraordinary medical expenses, lost wages and a total and complete loss of enjoyment of life.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious car accident it’s important that you do not try and deal with the situation on your own. Ontario car insurance laws are extremely complex. No-fault benefit laws are also extremely complex, ever-changing and convoluted. It’s also important that you do not speak with any insurance adjusters that are hired by the at fault driver’s insurance company. Most important is that you never try to negotiate a car accident settlement on your own. The implications of doing so can be financially disastrous – and once you sign a full and final release with the insurance company, there is no going back.
If you’ve been involved in a serious car accident, and have suffered physical, psychological or cognitive injuries, it’s important you speak to an experience car accident lawyer. We have been dedicated to helping car accident victims and their families in Hamilton, and across Southern Ontario since 2003.
Hiring a car accident lawyer ensures that a legal professional is ready and able to provide support. It can be reassuring for car accident victims to have someone looking out for their best interests and most importantly – recovering the maximum amount of compensation possible for you during these very difficult times. Remember – you only have one shot at hiring a car accident lawyer, so it’s important to not get hurt twice.
Below is a look at the why’s and how’s of hiring a car accident lawyer in the Hamilton, Ontario area.
After a serious car accident, a car accident victim may be dealing with very serious and complicated issues, such as:
Physical injuries: Most car accident victims involved in a serious accident will suffer some form of physical injury, ranging from slight scrapes and bumps to severe trauma. In more serious cases, car accident victims can also develop long-term disability due to their injuries, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) or some form of paralysis. If your loved one has suffered serious car accident related injuries it’s important that you contact our Hamilton car accident lawyers to discuss how to proceed with your claim against the at-fault driver that cause your injuries and more importantly, how to access no-fault benefits under the Accident Benefits law in Ontario – which provides immediate compensation for medical and rehabilitation needs.
Psychological Injuries and Mental stress: Serious car accidents, in addition to being a major cause of death and serious injury in Ontario, can sometimes cause or worsen existing psychological conditions. These psychological conditions may include anxiety, depression, anger, grief, guilt, vehicle anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although they may be less visible than physical injury, mental conditions can be equally debilitating and permanently change the life of a car accident victim.
Housekeeping Capacity Losses: If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, you may not be able participate or contribute to the orderly care of your home like you did before – and the law states that it’s unfair to place all of the work onto others or other family members. In Ontario, when a car accident victim suffers injuries which would cause them to be unable to perform usual and necessary household work — i.e., where the person has suffered a true loss of capacity — that loss may be compensated. It’s important that you speak to our Hamilton car accident lawyers about how to recover compensation for your unfortunate diminished housekeeping capacity both indoors and outdoors.
Wage Losses: What happens if a family breadwinner is suddenly rendered unemployable by an at-fault driver that was drunk or careless? Of all the unfortunate losses that can be caused in a serious car accident, wage loss or income loss can be by far the most significant. Once day a person is working and earning money, and the next they are financially destitute, living off the meager income replacement benefit payment of $400.00 per week – a replacement that is less than the Canadian indexed poverty rate.
Financial instability can be an extremely serious stressor for families that can result in psychological injuries, emotional distress and conflict within the family unit. If a person is lucky, he or she will be able to access his or her long-term disability policy – but that is not always the case. Income loss claims can be made when serious injuries cause a person to be totally unemployable, rendered less capable overall from earning income or become less marketable or attractive as an employee due to injury or disability – caused in a car accident.
Your car accident lawyer will help to understand fault and liability: Fault and liability in a car accident case is different than fault in liability that pertains to criminal charges. Remember, the onus of proving fault and liability lies with the plaintiff – or you – in your civil case. If you are the victim of a car accident, your car accident lawyer will help ensure that no fault is unfairly placed on you for the event. At-fault drivers may claim that the car accident was not their fault, but a car accident lawyer will help you hold them accountable for their actions by securing evidence of the car accident and proving fault.
Your car accident lawyers will deal with complex insurance issues on your behalf: Insurance companies will always be looking for a way to minimize or avoid paying out an insurance claim. They hire defence lawyers to defend cases and pay the least amount they can pay – even if the accident was 100% their fault. Most defence lawyer would argue that they are retained to provide reasonable compensation in line with ranges set out by our Courts – but most of the time, defence lawyers do not take that position. Their hourly rate is being paid by the insurance companies and they don’t want to lose the insurer as a client – so they take the hardest position possible in order to pay the least amount of compensation to an accident victim on a case. You need an experienced car accident lawyer to deal with the complex rules and regulations, complex no-fault benefits to deal with insurance adjusters and lawyers who will have adverse positions in terms of liability and in most cases, compensation.
Car accident lawyers help educate you about the legal system: Many car accident victims will not have the legal experience or knowledge to know how much compensation to seek, as well as what costs to account for. A car accident lawyer is a professional who can help guide you through the complicated legal system and what you should take into account when filing a claim. In Ontario, there are also deductibles associated with the pain and suffering compensation awarded that you may be asked to pay, which can affect the financial compensation you ultimately receive. You need an experienced car accident lawyer that understands the insurance legal system.
Once you’ve decided to hire a car accident lawyer, you’ll notice that there are dozens of lawyers offering car accident services online. Think about the following points as you consider your options:
Try not to hire off the television or billboard – try first to hire a car accident lawyer through referrals or friends and family. Speak to your inner circle about lawyers they know of have used in the past. Speak to your colleagues at work, neighbors, doctors, real estate agents – anyone you know that can refer you to a local car accident lawyer that they know or trust. A referral for many, is the best compliment.
Are they from the area? It is best – in most and if not all cases, to hire local. Hire a car accident lawyer that you can visit and meet in person – and sit with to talk about your case. Hire a car accident lawyer that is within reasonable driving distance to make preparation for events much easier. Also, When you hire a local Hamilton lawyer to represent you, that lawyer is much more likely to have direct working experience with the legal community – meaning the opposing lawyers and the judge who will be hearing your case, as well as local knowledge of any local court rules or procedures.
Are they car accident experts? It’s important that you hire a Hamilton car accident lawyer with experience in litigating car accidents – and not someone who dabbles in the area. Car accident litigation is extremely complex and hiring someone without years of experience – both in and out of the Courtroom could be disastrous. Remember – you only have one shot at hiring a car accident lawyer. Go with a lawyer who has proven results in getting results for clients in similar situations.
Is the lawyer you first speak to the one who will be handling your case? At your first meeting, you may be impressed by the experience and knowledge of the lawyer who you meet at your first meeting, only to find out later that a different lawyer will be handling your case. Your case may be passed down to paralegals or junior lawyers who you might never know or meet. In some cases, with larger firms, your case may be passed on to other associates that you did not meet initially, or associates that you do not feel comfortable with. When you speak with a lawyer, make sure that they will be personally handling your case throughout the entire legal process. Make sure it’s the lawyer that you can call, or meet when you need.
Have you tried to meet with other lawyers? Meeting with at least 2 or 3 different lawyers will allow you to compare your experiences and make a level-headed decision on which lawyer to hire. There is only one chance to hire a lawyer, so it’s a decision that should not be taken lightly. Some victims prefer typical lawyers that always wear ties, while some do not. Some victims prefer academic type lawyers with calm demeanors, some prefer aggressive lawyers. Some victims prefer a lawyer that they can talk to like a friend, while some do not. Everyone is different and the personality they seek is different. We suggest that you meet a few lawyers and hire the one that in the end, you feel most comfortable with to represent you.
Can I afford a car accident lawyer? This is always a big question and the answer is yes. Our Hamilton car accident lawyers do not charge for an initial consultation. Talking to us is always free. Also, our car accident lawyer DO NOT charge our clients out of pocket, but instead we are paid on a contingency basis. This means that the fees for our services are only paid after we reach a verdict or settlement for our clients; and if we’re unable to reach a settlement, our car accident lawyers will not render you a bill, under any circumstances. Contingency fees for car accident lawyers can range, depending on when the case resolves, although most range between 30% and 33.3%.
Will I be charged for the consultation? While many car accident lawyers will offer consultations free of charge, this is something you will want to be clear about before booking an appointment. Our car accident lawyers are located in Hamilton, and serve victims all over Ontario – and we never charge for consultations. We are always happy to meet you and your family, wherever is most convenient, and take all the time you need to answer your questions and concerns about your legal options in regards to your car accident injuries.
Preparing for your car accident lawyer appointment with some key information and documentation will help ensure that your meeting is a productive one:
An account of the event: Be prepared to tell the lawyer about the event in as much detail as possible; dates, times, names and places will all be relevant to an accurate retelling of the event. If you were able to take photos or video of the scene, you should bring it as well. If you have a copy of the police report – it’s important to bring that in as well. Most police officers who investigate accidents will deliver a copy of the police report to all motorists involved soon after the investigation is complete.
Medical information and documentation: Prepare information on your physical and mental condition, with details about how your condition has changed since the accident. It’s a good idea if you can have all of your medical information written in bullet point format – including all doctors, clinics, imaging clinics, hospital, rehab facilities, rehab providers, specialists, pharmacies and anywhere else that you have attended in the 3 years prior to your accident, to date.
Insurance information: Prepare information about your insurance plan and any communication between you and your insurance provider. It’s a good idea to have your policy information including your insurance company name (not your broker), policy number, claim number and adjuster contact information for our car accident lawyers.
Employment information: Prepare information about your employment status and financial situation. If you’ve had to take paid leave off of work, be prepared to show documentation that proves this as well.
Before meeting with your lawyer, take some time to think about any questions or concerns that you personally have about your car accident. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or present concerns to your car accident lawyer—the way that they are able to handle your questions will give you an idea of how they will be able to take care of the rest of your case moving forward.
In Ontario, any vehicle involved in a car accident must remain at the scene for police to arrive. In addition to paramedics and fire rescue, police should be notified if the damage to vehicles involved in the car accident exceeds $2000 or if the other driver may be committing a criminal offence (such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol).
Car accidents continue to be a common occurrence in Ontario and across the country of Canada. Without the support of an experienced car accident lawyer, dealing with insurance companies on your own can be an overwhelming and stressful experience. It can also result in an unsatisfactory result that does not secure the financial support that car accident victims deserve.
Our car accident lawyers have been representing car accident victims since 2003 and are passionate about representing victims. If you’ve been harmed, call us today no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE or local in the Burlington/ Hamilton / Niagara areas at 905-333-8888 today. Alternatively, you can send us a private email through our website. We would be more than happy to help evaluate your case – for free – and answer ANY questions you may have.