What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?

an injured person with their arm in a sling begins filling out forms with a personal injury lawyer

If you have suffered harm due to another party's negligence or intentional actions, you should contact a personal injury lawyer.

Personal injury law is a branch of civil law that deals with the legal rights and remedies of individuals who have suffered harm or loss as a result of someone else's negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct. Personal injury lawyers are legal professionals who specialize in this area of law and help their clients obtain compensation for their physical, emotional, and financial damages.

In Canada, personal injury lawyers work in various settings, such as private firms, legal clinics, insurance companies, or government agencies. They may handle cases involving motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, product liability, workplace injuries, or sexual abuse.

The main duties of a personal injury lawyer in Canada include:

  • Consulting with potential clients and evaluating their cases.
  • Gathering and analyzing evidence, such as medical records, police reports, witness statements and expert opinions.
  • Negotiating with insurance adjusters and other parties to reach a fair settlement.
  • Filing and drafting legal documents, such as pleadings, motions and affidavits.
  • Representing clients in court or before tribunals, such as the Civil Resolution Tribunal in British Columbia or the Licence Appeal Tribunal in Ontario.
  • Advocating for clients' best interests and rights.
  • Advising clients on the legal process and their options.
  • Keeping clients informed of the progress and outcome of their cases.

Personal injury lawyers in Canada face various challenges in their practice, such as:

  • Dealing with complex and evolving laws and regulations, such as the no-fault insurance system in Quebec or the minor injury cap in Alberta.
  • Managing high caseloads and deadlines.
  • Handling emotional and stressful situations, such as dealing with injured or grieving clients or facing aggressive or unethical opponents.
  • Keeping up with the latest developments and trends in the field, such as the use of technology, alternative dispute resolution or class actions.
  • Balancing the ethical and professional obligations to their clients, the courts and the public.

Canadian law recognizes that those who suffer a personal injury deserve some form of recourse. Since the harm cannot be undone, our judicial system offers financial compensation to help in your recovery and your family does not suffer if you are unable to work.

For example, an insurance policy may provide some financial relief if you are injured in an automobile accident. But insurance companies are businesses and it is in their best interest to pay out as little as possible to claimants.

In that situation and many more, people benefit from retaining the services of a personal injury lawyer who can help them launch legal action. A claim is brought by the injured person, known as the plaintiff, while the person or organization alleged to be at fault is the defendant.

This is not a get-rich scheme. An injured person can only claim the amount of compensation that allows them to be returned to the position they would have been in had the injury not occurred.

Navigating the Judicial System.

In Canada, navigating the judicial system can be challenging and complex, especially for those who are not familiar with the laws, procedures and institutions involved. Here are some general tips on how to navigate the legal system in Canada:

  • Know the difference between federal and provincial jurisdiction. Canada has a federal system of government, which means that some areas of law are under the authority of the federal government, such as criminal law, immigration law or national security, while others are under the authority of the provincial or territorial governments, such as family law, property law or health care. Depending on the type and location of your legal issue, you may need to deal with different courts, tribunals, agencies or officials.

  • Seek legal advice from a qualified lawyer or paralegal. The legal system in Canada is based on common law, which means that previous court decisions (also known as precedents) play an important role in shaping the interpretation and application of the law. Therefore, it is advisable to consult a legal professional who can help you understand your rights and obligations, explain the relevant laws and precedents and advise you on the best course of action for your situation. You can find a lawyer or paralegal through various sources, such as online directories, referrals, legal aid or pro bono services.

  • Be aware of the alternatives to litigation. Litigation is the process of taking a legal dispute to court, where a judge or jury will decide the outcome. However, litigation can be costly, time-consuming and stressful, and it may not always result in a satisfactory resolution for either party.

    Therefore, you may want to consider other forms of dispute resolution, such as negotiation, mediation, arbitration or collaborative law, where the parties try to reach a mutually acceptable agreement with the help of a third party or by themselves. These alternatives can be faster, cheaper and more flexible than litigation, and they may also preserve the relationship between the parties.

  • Prepare yourself for the legal process. If you decide to pursue a legal action or defend yourself against one, you will need to follow certain rules and procedures, such as filing documents, serving notices, gathering evidence, making arguments and complying with orders.

    You will also need to be respectful and professional in your interactions with the judges, lawyers, witnesses and other parties involved. You should familiarize yourself with the steps and requirements of the legal process, and prepare yourself accordingly. You can find information and resources on the websites of the courts, tribunals or agencies that handle your legal issue, or you can ask your lawyer or paralegal for guidance.

  • Understand what a personal injury is. A personal injury is any harm or damage that you suffer as a result of someone else's negligence, recklessness or intentional act. This can include physical injuries, such as broken bones, cuts, burns or brain damage, as well as psychological injuries, such as emotional distress, anxiety or depression.

    You may also suffer economic losses, such as medical expenses, lost income or property damage, as a result of a personal injury. If you have suffered a personal injury in Canada, you may be entitled to compensation from the person or any entity that caused or contributed to your injury.

  • Know the types and causes of personal injuries. Personal injuries can occur in various situations and contexts, such as motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, defective products, medical malpractice, assault and battery, workplace accidents or environmental hazards.

    Depending on the type and cause of your injury, you may have different legal options and remedies available to you. For example, if you were injured in a car accident, you may be able to claim benefits from your own insurance company, sue the other driver for damages or both. If you were injured by a faulty product, you may be able to sue the manufacturer, distributor or retailer for product liability.

  • Learn about the laws and limitations that apply to your case. The laws and regulations that govern personal injury claims in Canada vary depending on the province or territory where the injury occurred, the nature and severity of the injury, and the circumstances of the incident.

    Some of the factors that may affect your claim include the statute of limitations, which is the time limit for filing a lawsuit; the duty of care, which is the legal obligation that the defendant owed to you; the standard of proof, which is the level of evidence that you need to prove your claim; the contributory negligence, which is the degree to which you were partly responsible for your injury; and the damages, which are the types and amounts of compensation that you can recover.

You should consult a lawyer or paralegal who specializes in personal injury law in your jurisdiction to learn more about the specific laws and limitations that apply to your case.

The Steps Involved in Settling a Claim.

A personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the court system and make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities.

That includes writing and filing your claim. They can also prepare you for an examination for discovery, a pretrial proceeding in which the evidence to be presented at a civil trial is disclosed.

It is important to note that the majority of personal injury claims are settled before they go to court. If a settlement cannot be reached mediation may follow. Here, your lawyer and legal counsel for the defendant will work with a neutral third party to find a compromise that is acceptable to both parties.

Mediation is a voluntary exercise and both sides must agree to participate. A mediator's decision is not binding.

If mediation is unsuccessful, the next step may be arbitration - where an arbitrator determines what the settlement will be. Both sides must also agree to use an arbitrator and their decision can be non-binding or binding. 

A civil trial is considered the last resort. Going to court can not only be stressful and time-consuming but it is also expensive.

Preparing Your Claim.

One of the reasons why most claims are settled is that personal injury lawyers know how to prepare claims that illustrate the extent of the plaintiff's injuries.

In building your claim, your lawyer may refer you to the appropriate specialists to evaluate your injuries and make recommendations about treatment. They will also help you submit insurance claims and will work with your health-care team to obtain the records and documentation needed to show the extent of your injury.

A personal injury lawyer can also have witnesses interviewed and obtain statements from other relevant parties while your accident is still fresh in everyone's mind.

They can also help you file documents and applications to obtain Canada Pension Plan disability benefits and/or disability benefits from your workplace.

What Is a Personal Injury?

Establish negligence by showing that the defendant breached their duty of care to you. Negligence is the failure to act with reasonable care and prudence in a given situation, resulting in harm or damage to another person. To prove negligence, you need to show four elements:

(1) the defendant owed you a duty of care, which means they had a legal obligation to act in a certain way toward you;

(2) the defendant breached their duty of care, which means they failed to meet the standard of care that a reasonable person would have followed in the same situation;

(3) the defendant's breach caused your injury, which means there is a causal connection between the defendant's action or inaction and your harm; and

(4) you suffered damages, which means you incurred losses or expenses as a result of your injury.

You need to provide evidence to support your claim of negligence. Evidence is any information or material that can help you prove or disprove a fact or argument in your case. Evidence can be direct or circumstantial, oral or written, physical or digital, expert or lay. Some examples of evidence that may be relevant to your personal injury claim include:

  • medical records, bills, and reports;
  • police reports and accident reconstruction;
  • witness statements and testimony;
  • photographs and videos of the scene and the injuries;
  • receipts and invoices for property damage or repairs;
  • employment records and pay stubs for lost income;
  • and opinions and testimony from experts, such as doctors, engineers, or economists.

You should gather and preserve as much evidence as possible to support your claim of negligence and show the extent of your damages.

You also need to hire a lawyer or paralegal to represent you and advocate for your rights. A lawyer or paralegal who specializes in personal injury law can help you navigate the complex legal process, advise you on the best course of action, negotiate with the insurance companies and the defendants, prepare and file the necessary documents and represent you in court if necessary. A lawyer or paralegal can also help you assess the value of your claim, calculate your damages, and maximize your compensation.

Most personal injury lawyers and paralegals work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if you win or settle your case. You should look for a lawyer or paralegal who has experience and expertise in handling cases similar to yours, who communicates well with you, and who has your best interests at heart.

Contact Us for Assistance.

If you have been injured due to another party's negligence or intentional actions, you may be entitled to collect substantial financial compensation. Our Toronto personal injury lawyers can guide you through that process and increase your chance of a fair settlement. But keep in mind there is generally a two-year limitation period in which to start a claim so do not delay in seeking legal advice.

Anyone who has suffered a personal injury and is seeking compensation can contact Gluckstein Lawyers. We offer a free consultation without obligation on your part and we never charge you legal fees until your claim is settled.

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