Understand the Process
- What should you do if you have been injured?
- How do you know if you have a case?
- What is it going to cost?
- What are the risks?
- How long will it take?
- What are the stages involved in a lawsuit (litigation)?
- When and what do you get paid?
- What should you know about insurance companies?
- How do you pay for medical costs while waiting for your case to be settled?
If you are injured, you should immediately take care of your medical needs. See a doctor for a full examination. It is very important that you follow the doctor’s recommendations. Make sure you attend all appointments, and keep notes for both the benefit of your health and later legal defense if needed.
If you can, immediately take detailed notes around the injury particulars, while fresh in your mind. Take pictures, and get names and contact information for any witnesses. Keep a detailed diary of any activity related to your injury, from work issues to family issues to doctors visits. And keep all receipts related to your injury.
While you are stabilizing, do not answer any questions from, or talk to insurance adjusters, WCB representatives, or others until you see a lawyer. You many unknowingly preclude yourself from benefits.
You or someone who represents you should contact a personal injury lawyer at the earliest possible date, to ensure you secure your legal and compensation rights.
Remember, your initial visit to Salloum Watts is free, and without obligation. Salloum Watts works on a ‘contingency basis,’ which means that you do not pay any fees until a settlement has been made. Your rights and your health are worth a phone call and visit at the earliest possible date!
It is not always easy to determine the longer-term, negative effects of an injury. However, an experienced injury lawyer can usually assess the context of your circumstances, and benefits and/or risks that you may gain if you pursue legal action. Some claims may be easily resolved without filing a lawsuit. You will need to visit a lawyer personally to learn about your options. Remember, your visit is free, and there is no obligation… it is certainly worth your time.
Launching a lawsuit can be intimidating, particularly when it comes to cost and affordability. With personal injury law you do not pay your lawyer until you get paid yourself from a settlement. If you are successful with your case, you will pay your lawyer agreed-upon professional fees for litigating your case. Often, some of these costs are paid by the other side. In addition, your lawyer will need to recoup disbursements at the end of the process. These are all the expenses that were incurred to litigate your case, such as medical reports and records, couriers and travel. Again, the other side – if unsuccessful - pays almost all of the disbursements. Both fees and disbursements are subject to applicable taxes.
If your case is unsuccessful, your lawyer receives no professional fees at all. However, you are still responsible for covering any disbursements and will have to pay your lawyer for those.
Before you begin anything, we will discuss these issues with you so you feel comfortable and understand them, and make a contingency fee agreement. This outlines among other things the legal fees that will be paid if your lawyer achieves a successful result. In other words, the fees you pay are contingent on your lawyer’s performance.
There are always risks involved in taking legal action, including the emotional risks of facing a long process and courtroom environment. There is also the risk of your case being unsuccessful, or having a judgment made against you, in which case you may be required to pay legal costs and disbursements to the other side.
Your lawyer will discuss these risks at the outset. It is very important that you choose a trial lawyer who has a successful track record, is experienced in court and trials, and has a good perspective of the various aspects of trial outcomes and settlement levels. An experienced trial lawyer can gauge the situation based on past experience, and guide the best course of action. A good lawyer would not put you at risk if you have no chance of success.
Your case will take as much time as it takes for your body to heal. This waiting is very important. You need to heal to the greatest degree possible before an assessment can be made about the long-term effects of the injury on your quality of life. Most injuries require a recovery of twelve months to two years. Head injuries can take more time, sometimes many years. Once you have stabilized, it takes generally about 12 to 15 months (sometimes longer) to get into court unless the case is resolved by a mediation or an out-of-court settlement.
Litigation: begins after it is determined whether or not you have a case, and will need to file a lawsuit in order to get results.
Commence your lawsuit: Your lawsuit begins when you file a Notice of Civil Claim against one or more Defendants, who are then served with the Notice. You are the Plaintiff and those you have filed against are called Defendants.
Discovery: In this step, pertinent questions and answers, and document requests are made by the different parties involved.
Plaintiff and Defendant Deposition: an oral examination, also called an Examination for Discovery are conducted under oath by the Lawyers for each of the Plaintiff and Defendants.
Expert Witness Depositions: Various witnesses, the Plaintiff’s doctors and other related parties may also complete an Examination in preparation for trial.
Out of Court Settlement: Once the Discovery process has been completed, your case may settle out of court either by agreement or through the mediation process.
Trial: If the case is not resolved out of court, a trial date will be set and your case may go before a judge or a judge sitting with a jury.
Appeal: If you and your lawyer do not agree with the court’s decision about the degree of liability and / or judgment award, and can find cause to appeal (such as errors made in the trial) you file a Notice of Appeal within thirty days of the trial.
If your case is successful, you will get paid shortly after a judgment is made – typically within a few weeks. The other side will be required to pay you the judgment (settlement) amount, a portion of your costs (legal fees), the majority of the disbursements (expenses) incurred in litigating your case. Then you pay your lawyer the rest of the agreed-upon legal costs (fees), plus applicable tax.
Insurance adjusters are often friendly, caring people, but remember, the insurance company is not working for your benefit. The objective is to protect its own bottom-line interests.
Although it will accept a certain level of liability, it is standard practice for an insurance company to try to refute full responsibility, downplay the extent of your injuries, and try to reduce the amount of your claim.
However, personal injuries can have far-reaching effects on one’s life than what might appear in the initial stages of an accident or injury.
Never talk to an insurance adjuster before consulting your lawyer. What you say to them may be used in court, and again. It is also wise to see a lawyer who has extensive experience with injury law and insurance companies. Your first consultation with Salloum Watts is always free and with no-obligation, and you do not pay legal fees until you settle.
Most often you will be entitled to no-fault benefits under your own contract of automobile insurance. In those circumstances ICBC is obligated to provide those treatments that are medically necessary to return you to your pre-accident condition if possible. Most often these benefits will be made clear to you on your first meeting with the Insurance Corporation but you should contact your lawyer to ensure you are getting the benefits you have contracted and paid for.