If you have suffered an injury in Ontario due to an accident or someone else’s negligence, you should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer.
Finding the right personal injury attorney to handle your unique case is the key to receiving the compensation you deserve.
One way to find the best lawyer for your case is to ask the right questions. It is natural to reach out to several personal injury firms before making your final decision, but when you do, you should ask the same questions to assess your options properly.
If you want to know what questions to ask a personal injury lawyer in Ontario, we have you covered. Below are the top questions to ask and why you should ask them.
15 Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer Before Hiring Them
When choosing a personal injury lawyer, you must learn as much about them and their firm as possible. This information will help you determine if this is the best lawyer for you but also help you assess some elements of your personal injury case that you may not have considered previously.
Here’s a list of what questions to ask a personal injury lawyer:
How Long Have They Been Practicing Personal Injury Law?
In the best-case scenario, you will find experienced legal representation. Do not be afraid to ask how long they have been practicing in this field. Remember, you want an expert. Think of it like seeing a specialist when you are sick. There are lots of people that may have an idea of how to help, but you want the expert.
When you ask about years of experience, do not be afraid to also ask about their success rate.
Have They Handled Personal Injury Cases Like Yours Before?
Your personal injury case is likely to have some elements that are specifically unique to the circumstances of the injury. So, you don’t just want to find a lawyer who is experienced in personal injury law, but one that has experience with your specific type of case, whether it is a slip and fall case, malpractice, or car accident.
Again, you’d like to find a lawyer who has been successful with your type of case, so don’t be afraid to ask about settlements they have won in the past.
What Challenges or Issues Do They Forsee With Your Case?
No matter how cut and dry your case may seem, few things are ever that simple. The legal system, and personal injury claims, are complicated, which means issues or challenges can pop up from time to time.
If you ask your potential lawyer this question and they paint the rosiest of pictures, you should be wary.
Experienced personal injury lawyers understand the intricacies of the law and will be able to identify any potential hiccups while offering a possible solution.
How Much Are Their Personal Injury Lawyer Contingencies or Fees?
Before hiring a lawyer, you will want to have some idea of what it is going to cost you. Understanding the fee structure will help you compare lawyers and make the right choice for you.
In most personal injury cases, the lawyer does not take a retainer upfront. Most often, they work on a contingency fee. This means that the lawyer will take a fixed percentage of the award once your case is settled. Typically, this percentage is between 20 and 40 percent.
How Are Fees Billed?
It is possible that the fees will change based on the direction of the case. If, for example, you are unable to settle out of court and the case goes to trial, it is possible that the contingency fee will increase.
To ensure you fully understand your costs, ask for clarification around all potential billings.
What’s The Value Of Your Personal Injury Claim?
Providing the exact value of your claim will be difficult as this number depends on various factors.
An auto accident settlement will be different than a slip and fall settlement, for example.
There are two types of damages that can be awarded for personal injury cases in Ontario. These are pecuniary damages and non-pecuniary damages.
Pecuniary damages have a specific value. These damages include costs associated with treating your injury and any prescriptions or supplies needed. Generally, you can determine this amount by looking at medical bills.
Non-pecuniary damages include things like emotional distress and pain and suffering. In most instances, the court will determine the amount, and it isn’t really based on a specific, set figure.
It is worth noting that Canadian courts limit what can be awarded in non-pecuniary damages. This amount is approximately $380,000 but often fluctuates based on inflation. Injuries like loss of limbs, disfigurement, paralysis, or permanent injury are typically the only cases awarded high damages.
How Often Will They Update You on the Progress of the Case?
Your personal injury case significantly impacts your life, and you will want to know how often you can expect to be updated.
By understanding the type and frequency of communication you will receive, you focus your energy where it belongs; on healing and recovery.
At RBHF Professional Corporation, we understand how complicated and disruptive a personal injury claim can be. We make sure we communicate regularly with all our clients, keeping them up to date on the progress of the case.
Who Will Answer Your Questions About the Case?
Excellent lawyers often have a full caseload. This means they may not always be available to answer your questions.
Occasionally you may speak with a paralegal, for example. Remember, personal injury cases can be complicated, and so it may take an entire team to reach a satisfactory settlement.
It is not unusual or uncommon to speak with people other than your injury attorney. However, you want assurances that you will have access to the lawyer handling your case.
How Much Time Can They Devote To Your Case?
You trust your personal injury lawyer to represent your interests, so you will want to know that they have enough time to properly represent your interests.
The lawyer you speak to in your initial consultation may not be the lawyer that represents you. The bulk of the work may be given to someone else at the law firm. If the lawyer you meet initially will not be handling the case directly, ask about the experience and qualifications of the person handling the claim.
This question will help you manage expectations and eliminate law firms that do not fit your needs.
Can They Provide Past References or Testimonials?
Lawyers should be able to connect you with previously satisfied clients. Many lawyers take referrals from lawyers with different specialties or concentrations.
Some lawyers will post testimonials online, but if you do not see any, do not hesitate to ask.
You want an experienced personal injury attorney, to be sure, but you also want one that people like, trust, and want to work with.
If your potential personal injury lawyer is unwilling to provide references, it may be a sign to keep looking.
What Do They Need From You?
Asking this question will not only help you play an active role in seeking damages, but it will also help you to strengthen your claim through the preservation of evidence.
Ask exactly what items you need to keep and what should be submitted to your lawyer. This way, nothing will be compromised, lost, or destroyed.
Will They Talk to the Insurance Company On Your Behalf?
Insurance companies can be intimidating. Their goal is to pay out as little as possible. Your personal injury lawyer will know how to handle them and can speak to them for you. This will prevent accidental verbal slip-ups that can jeopardize your claim.
Will My Case Go To Trial?
Your lawyer should be able to give you insight into the likelihood of a trial. They may have some ideas in your initial meeting, but after a thorough investigation of facts and evidence, they should be able to give you a clearer picture.
Likely, your case will only go to trial if you cannot settle with the insurance company or are unhappy with their settlement offer.
If You Lose, Are You Responsible For Case Related Costs?
No matter the outcome, there will be costs associated with your case. There will always be clerical fees, record retrieval fees, and filing fees. And the longer your case goes on, the more these fees can pile up, win or lose. Some lawyers will charge you for these costs while others won’t.
Ask your lawyer about their policy regarding these types of expenses. This will help you make a more informed decision.
How Long Will Resolution Take?
Each personal injury lawsuit will look a little different, but you should know that settlements take a long time. They can take a long time if there is a severe or catastrophic injury.
The time it takes will depend on several factors like the actions of the opposing party, the reasonableness of settlement offers, court calendars, and the complexity of the case.
An experienced attorney should be able to give you a rough estimate of the timeline for resolution, but a specific timeline will be difficult.
If you’ve experienced a personal injury, finding the right lawyer is critical. Obviously, the maximum compensation is the goal and knowing what questions to ask a personal injury lawyer will help you get there.
If you need an experienced personal injury lawyer, reach out to the law office of RBHF Professional Corporation. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support you in your personal injury claim.