When You Have No Case, But Things Still Aren’t Right
Written By:Brenda Agnew and Janet Lebeau When someone contacts a personal injury law firm, it is very likely that they (or someone they love) have been hurt. As client liaisons, we’re often among the first people they speak to as they explain what’s happened and ask whether we can help them find a sense of justice. Listening to these stories can be heartbreaking. The pain and losses from injuries or disabilities can dramatically alter a life’s course for an individual and their loved ones. Sometimes we can connect these people with one of our personal injury lawyers because it’s clear that they have a case where we can help them try to obtain damages through a court proceeding, or gain access to disability benefits, or achieve a settlement. But what about the times when we determine that litigation is not likely to be successful? In this blog, we offer some tips on what you can do when a personal injury lawyer is of the opinion that you don’t have a viable claim.
Just as you would when a doctor offers a concerning diagnosis, you are well within your rights to seek a second opinion from another personal injury lawyer. If ultimately it is clear, based on the evidence that you bring forward, that a case is unlikely to achieve the desired results, most lawyers working on a contingency fee basis will not accept you as a client. The reason is that the lawyer or law firm stands a significant risk of losing money. Nevertheless, if a case looks like it is hovering around the threshold for damages, some lawyers may assess their risk differently and be willing to take a chance. At Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers, if we determine that we can’t reasonably bring a case forward to court, but we believe that another lawyer or law firm may be willing to do so, we will advise you that your case has may have some merit and either recommend another law firm or suggest that you look for a lawyer or firm that will agree to take on this risk. Similarly, if another lawyer or firm has told you that you don’t have a case, we are always willing to discuss the matter with you and offer our own opinion. We may discover something that another lawyer has overlooked that changes the risk assessment, or we may feel that further information is necessary before we are able to provide an opinion.
Our firm’s strong track record for handling medical malpractice cases means we speak to a lot of people who have had a negative experience with a medical practitioner or facility. Unfortunately, a negative experience – even one that results in serious injury, disability, or death – may not mean that the practitioner or facility has breached the applicable standard of care that is used to determine if there was medical negligence. For example, perhaps a child is born with cerebral palsy due to a birth injury, but the medical practitioners acted in a way that was reasonable given the circumstances they faced in the delivery room. Or maybe a loved one was diagnosed with a terminal illness or disability-causing condition at a point where treatment options were, by that time, very limited or non-existent, but the doctors generally followed diagnostic guidelines in a timely manner. In both these examples, there were adverse outcomes; perhaps there were even mistakes or poor choices made by medical practitioners or medical facilities. But medical providers are neither expected nor required to meet a standard of perfection. Mistakes or errors in judgment can occur without breaching the standard of care and may not be considered negligence in a legal sense. Still, even if there may not be actionable negligence, when mistakes or unfortunate circumstances have hurt someone you love, you may want to do something to ensure that those at fault recognize the pain they have caused, and that they learn from these mistakes so that others don’t experience the same kind of loss. In these cases, we may recommend going through a complaints process managed by a profession’s regulatory body. For example, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, the College of Nurses of Ontario, the College of Chiropractors of Ontario, the Patient Ombudsman, and Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario all have complaint and/or dispute resolution mechanisms. Going through this process may not result in any monetary compensation for you or your loved one, but it can provide you with a sense that some form of justice has been achieved.
A sense of closure
Learning that you do not have a legal case can be devastating for people who are going through a grieving process for their losses. There is no doubt that this can be a bitter pill to swallow, to the point where some people may choose to continue looking for a personal injury lawyer who will tell them what they want to hear. Others might focus their efforts elsewhere to achieve something that will tell them that their loss has not been in vain. Nevertheless, one of the things we may encourage a person without a viable case to consider is that they might view this end-point as providing a sense of closure. There is great value in turning the page, moving forward, and not dwelling on a painful period in your life. If you have consulted an expert who has explained that there is no more you can do, you could choose to use this information to give you some measure of peace of mind. Knowing that you have tried everything for yourself or your loved one can be both reassuring and comforting in itself – as difficult as it can be to move on.
As a personal injury law firm with a commitment to full-circle care, we always hope we can help our existing and prospective clients achieve their desired results and rebuild their lives after a tragic injury or the death or a loved one. We may not always be able to help on the legal front, but we do our utmost to offer compassion, kindness, and assistance in other ways. If you’d like to learn whether you have a personal injury case – and what you can do if you don’t – contact Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers.
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