Get answers to these frequently asked questions about legal fees, claims, personal injury compensation and what your rights & entitlements are after being injured in an accident.
What are my Rights?
Even if you don’t know your rights, it’s reassuring to know we do.
You have been injured in a serious accident and it wasn’t your fault. You may have a legal right to recover damages from the person responsible, whether the other driver, the road authority, a negligent manufacturer or other liable parties.
Even if the accident is your fault you may be entitled to “no fault accident benefits” to compensate you for part of your income loss as well as your medical, rehabilitation and other expenses.
You need an expert to help you navigate through one of the most complicated areas of the law. But what do you have to do to protect your interests and assert your rights
If your accident was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation from the other driver for financial losses such as:
- Lost income and benefits
- Lost working capacity
- Loss of opportunity
If you have a serious and permanent impairment of an important function, you may also be entitled to compensation for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
Your family members may also be entitled to compensation for care they provide to you and for damage to their relationship with you.
Most compensation claims are settled at some time after we start a lawsuit, often through mediation. Some cases are decided at a trial. As your lawyer, Tim Leigh-Bell will do whatever it takes to get you the compensation you deserve.
No-Fault Accident Benefits
The reality is that obtaining the compensation you deserve can take a long time. You may be unable to work and have expensive medical, rehabilitation and other costs. And that can cause great hardship for victims and their families, especially when you have bills to pay and no income.
This is where no-fault benefits from your own insurance company can help, even if you are at fault for the accident.
The rules and procedures for recovering the benefits you deserve are complicated and. technical. While insurance companies often pay these claims for a while, many of them stop paying before the claim for compensation is finished.
The good news is that our licensed paralegal, Patti Kennedy, puts her experience and knowledge of the system as a senior insurance adjuster to work for our clients. She knows the rules and procedures and how to use them to get your claim paid. If the insurance company will not pay, it may be necessary to start a lawsuit or arbitration.
What Should I do Next?
I Have Been Injured in an Accident. What Should I Do Next?
1. Make sure to get the other driver’s information, including their name, license plate number, insurance company and policy number, and report the accident. If the police attend the accident, they will prepare and give you a report which includes this information. If the police do not attend, you should go to a collision reporting centre and report the accident. If you do not get a report, try to get the report number so we can get a copy of the report more easily.
2. Seek medical attention as soon as possible, first to make sure you are okay, but also to document any injuries from the accident. Tell the doctor enough about the accident so that he or she understands how you were injured but do not get into details about fault, as these statements could later be used against you. Simply answer the doctor’s questions.
3. Notify your insurance company as soon as possible. You are required to notify the claims department of your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible, and at most within seven days. Ask them to send you an application for no fault accident benefits. You must complete the application and all the forms within 30 days of the date of the accident if you are able to do so.
4. Be careful who you speak to about the accident, what you say and what you sign. You may receive calls or letters from two different insurance adjusters from your own company, one to deal with your property damage/collision claim and another adjuster to deal with your accident benefits claim.
You may also receive a call or letter from an adjuster for the other party’s insurance company. They may ask you to provide a statement and sign an authorization for release of medical records.
It is a good idea to speak to a lawyer for advice before you sign any statement that describes in detail how the accident occurred or any release of medical information. It is essential to speak to a lawyer before signing any release of your claims other than for property damage/collision claims.
5. Keep your employer advised of your medical status and when you expect to return to work, and provide documentation from a doctor if possible. As long as your employer expects you to be able to return to work in a reasonable time, your right to reasonable notice of termination is protected.
6. Find out what, if any, disability benefits and medical benefits you may be entitled to through your own employment, family members or your own private plans and make sure you apply for those benefits. A personal injury lawyer can also help you determine what benefits may be available based on your injury and situation.
7. If you have a potential workers’ compensation claim in relation to the accident, speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. It may be possible to opt out of the workers’ compensation system, which may be beneficial to you depending on the facts of your case.
8. Go for regular medical follow ups with a qualified physician, even if you are seeing a chiropractor, physiotherapist or other specialist, and report your symptoms as honestly and accurately as you can without exaggerating or minimizing them. It is important to have an ongoing medical record of your problems.
9. Follow the medical advice you receive for treatment. If in doubt seek a second opinion. If you are not satisfied with the care you are receiving, don’t hesitate to ask for a referral to a specialist or for diagnostic tests.
10. Do not discuss your case or your condition with anyone other than the people mentioned above and your lawyer. Of course you cannot avoid discussing your case completely with family and friends, but avoid giving any details. DO NOT post any information about yourself or your accident on the Internet or in emails (Facebook, Twitter, personal blog, etc.).
11. If you are receiving no fault accident benefits, co-operate with your adjuster and any other person in charge of your care such as an occupational therapist that is sent to assist you. If the insurance company sends you to its own doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor for an assessment after a few months, this may mean that your insurer is checking to see if you still qualify for benefits, and you may want to speak to a lawyer. If your insurer refuses to pay for treatment or other benefits, speak to a lawyer about how to enforce your rights.
12. Keep records of all expenses related to the accident and a note of the ways in which your injury affects you and your family.
13. Call us: 1-800-797-6989 FREE, we are here to help.
There is no cost to you.
We generally charge for our fees and disbursements on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not have to pay anything for legal fees or disbursements unless and until you receive compensation for your injuries. Your fees will be based on the amount of compensation you receive. If you do not receive any compensation (and this has happened to Tim Leigh-Bell only once in over 25 years of practice) you do not pay anything for legal fees and disbursements. We will provide you with a detailed written agreement so that you will clearly understand the amount you can expect to recover net of fees.
The Steps We Take to Win Your Case
STEP 1: Investigation and Assessment
We begin with a free discussion of your case and review your information to assess whether we should move forward. If we need more information, we can tap into public sources like police reports, or conduct our own investigation. If we conclude we can’t help you, there will be no charge for any of the work that was done.
STEP 2: Notice
We write to the person responsible for your injuries informing them of our intention to make a claim on your behalf. This results in two things: interest starts to run on your claim from the date notice is given (motor vehicle cases); usually, if there is insurance to cover your claim, the insurer will begin its investigation and set aside money to pay your claim.
STEP 3: Informal Disclosure
We will request copies of the documents we need in order to prove your claim, including medical records (pre-accident and post-accident). If you’re making a claim for income loss, employment records and tax records are needed. Copies of the records are provided to the insurance adjuster or other lawyer to assist him/her in evaluating your claim. We may arrange for you to provide a statement to the insurance adjuster if we believe it will help your case.
STEP 4: Settlement Discussion
If and when it is in your best interests, we will discuss your case with the insurance adjuster to try and settle your case directly with the insurance company without starting a lawsuit. The case cannot be settled until your medical condition and prognosis are known. It can take time for you to reach your maximal medical recovery and for all medical investigations to be completed so that your doctors can give us a final medical opinion. A decision is made whether to settle your case at this time or to go on to the next step.
STEP 5: Lawsuit
If the case cannot be settled directly with the insurance company in a reasonable time, we will issue a Statement of Claim. This is the start of the actual lawsuit. It contains a brief written summary of the facts of your claim and a copy is served or delivered to the defendant (in personal injury law, this is typically the person responsible for your injuries) personally. The defendant’s insurance company will appoint, instruct and pay for a lawyer to defend the claim. The defendant’s lawyer will deliver a Statement of Defence, which sets out the allegations which the defendant will try to prove if the case should proceed to court.
STEP 6: Formal Disclosure
First we make sure we have disclosed all relevant documents and records and list them in a document called an Affidavit of Documents. You may then have to participate in the second aspect of disclosure, which is called Examination for Discovery. In this process, we will question the defendant about the case and the defendant’s lawyer has an opportunity to ask you questions about the case. We will spend whatever time is necessary with you to ensure that you are prepared for this process.
STEP 7: Resolution
After disclosure is complete, the case is set down for trial. Your case will be resolved either by a judge and jury at trial or by settlement with the other side. Approximately 95 percent of lawsuits are settled before trial.
If a settlement cannot be negotiated directly, both sides often agree to participate in mediation. In mediation, you and Tim Leigh-Bell will meet with the defendant or his/her insurance company representative and their lawyer, and with a mediator to try to reach a settlement of your claim. The mediator’s job is to try to help both sides reach a compromise settlement. Mediation often takes a full day but it is a very effective way to reach a decision to resolve a case without going to trial.
Another good opportunity for settlement before trial is a Pre-trial Conference where the lawyers, and sometimes the plaintiff and defendant themselves, will meet with a judge to discuss the case. The judge will usually try to give an independent opinion about the case, which often helps the parties to make their own decision about settling the case.
In those rare cases where no settlement can be reached, we will take your case to trial to get you the compensation you deserve. This can be a frightening process for you, but we have done it many times and will guide you through it. We don’t take a case to trial unless we are confident we can win.
For an indication of how these steps have led to success in the past, please review our Success Stories page.*
*Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results; the amount recovered and other litigation outcomes will vary according to the facts of an individual’s particular case.
What am I Entitled to?
You have been injured in an accident and it’s not your fault. You may have a legal right to recover money damages from the person responsible, whether that is another driver, road authority or bike manufacturer. But what do you have to do to protect your interests, deal the complexities of Motor Vehicle Accident Claims and assert your rights? You need an expert to help you navigate through one of the most complicated areas of the law.
Compensation from At-Fault Parties
If your accident was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation for financial losses such as:
- Medical, rehabilitation and attendant care expenses
- Lost income and benefits
- Lost earning capacity and loss of opportunity
- Pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life
Your family members may also be entitled to compensation for providing care to you and for damage to their relationship with you.
Most compensation claims are settled after we start a lawsuit, but before trial, often through mediation. Some cases are decided at a trial. As your personal injury lawyer, Tim Leigh-Bell’s job is to do whatever it takes to get you the compensation you deserve.
No-Fault Accident Benefits
The reality is that obtaining the compensation you deserve can take a long time, which causes great hardship for victims and their families facing mounting bills for medical and rehabilitation care. If you have been injured, you may be entitled to receive accident benefits immediately from your own insurance company, regardless of whether you were at fault for the accident. These benefits include:
- Income replacement benefits
- Medical and rehabilitation benefits
- Attendant care and other benefits
The rules and procedures for recovering the benefits you deserve are complicated and technical. And while Insurance companies often pay these claims for a while, many of them stop paying before the claim for compensation is finished.
Our accident benefits specialist, Patti Kennedy, is a former Provincial Automobile Manager for an independent insurance adjusting company who now puts her 20 years’ experience and knowledge of the system to work for our clients. She knows the rules and procedures and uses them to get your claim paid. If the insurance company will not pay, we can start a lawsuit or arbitration to enforce your rights.
If your injury results in a loss of limb or other serious impairment which limits your ability to function, you could also be entitled to long-term disability benefits. In these cases you need an informative and experienced long-term disability lawyer to make sure that you get the full amount to which you are entitled to handle all your short- and long-term expenses.
Maximizing Your Recovery
If your injury has caused a permanent disability and you are unable to work, the money we get for you may be needed to support yourself in the future. In light of that, it’s crucial that you invest your money wisely. We can help arrange for a tax-free annuity that will provide you with regular income until retirement age, or for life and greatly increase the total value of your settlement.
To determine exactly what you are entitled to, contact lawyer Tim Leigh-Bell today at 1-800-797-6989 FREE to discuss your case in a free consultation.