A personal injury case starts and ends with a Plaintiff and his/her personal injury lawyer.
Without a Plaintiff and his/her personal injury lawyer making a claim, there is no personal injury case to begin with.
This has an industry wide impact.
That means there is one less claim for an insurance adjuster to handle; which can translate into one less job if you really think of it.
That means there is one less Statement of Claim, Motion Record, Trial Record for a process server to serve/file.
That means there is one less medico-legal assessment for an expert to evaluate.
That means there is one less examination for discovery for a reporter to book and to transcribe.
That means there is one less file for a mediator to mediate; one less board room to be booked; one less lunch booking for a caterer.
That means there is one less file for a insurance defence lawyer to defend and to bill on.
That means there is one less legal assistant or law clerk to help the lawyer do his/her job on the file.
The entire personal injury industry, as we know it; is built upon innocent accident victims reaching out to a personal injury lawyer; and that personal injury lawyer advancing the accident victim’s rights to get him/her the compensation which s/he deserves. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent and exchanged in handling, managing, litigating and adjudicating those claims.
There is no better example of this than a recent case we had. Let me illustrate.
This case involved 2 Car Accidents.
In the first car accident there were coverage issues and multiple vehicles. There were 5 Defendants. That meant 5 different law firms/lawyers were involved on the tort side alone for the car accident.
There was also an accident benefit claim and a LAT Hearing for the first accident (6th law firm).
The second accident was a bit more straightforward. For this accident, there were only 2 different defence lawyers (law firms 7 and 8).
There was also an accident benefit claim for the second accident. In between accident #1 and accident #2, the Plaintiff had changed insurers because s/he was so displeased with how s/he was being treated following accident #1.
This meant there was a different insurer, and a different law firm representing that insurer for the LAT Hearing (Law Firm #9).
There was a long term disability claim which was denied following accidents #1 and #2 which resulted in more litigation and yet another law firm (Law Firm #10) which represented the long term disability insurer.
There was also a wrongful dismissal component to the claim. While this case was not formally litigated, it did involve the introduction of employment counsel to handle the termination and severance package (Law Firm #11).
When you factor in our law firm’s involvement, that’s 12 different law firms all working on a lawsuit involving the same Plaintiff whose injuries arose from the same 2 car accidents.
It’s one thing to appreciate this on paper. But it’s another thing to see it in real life.
You can imagine how daunting this was for my client at the examinations for discovery (there were multiple days scheduled).
One innocent accident victim in a very large board room in a non descript downtown office building facing nearly a dozen or so lawyers all sitting across from him/her. Talk about scary and intimidating.
But it just went to show that without that Plaintiff commencing his/her action; none of those lawyers would have been gathered that day inside of that large boardroom for multiple days, and multiple hours of examinations under oath.
Getting all of these lawyers to agree on a date was a task in and of itself. Like herding cats. Examinations for Discoveries needed to be booked nearly 13 months or so in advance.
It’s not unheard of to have multiple parties involved in lawsuits.
The reality is that some cases are more complicated than others. Sometimes, the more complicated the case, the more parties and law firms are involved.
This does not necessarily mean that the parties can’t co-operate to move the case forward or to get the case resolved. All it means is that things might take more time because there are so many parties and so many moving parts.
When this happens, a party (normally the Plaintiff and his/her personal injury lawyer) can apply to the Court to request Civil Case Management of the case(s). Case Management means that the case will be overseen by a single judge who will be familiar with the case and the procedural steps of the case.
Motions are brought directly before the Case Management Judge and in my experience, are heard rather quickly compared to hearing non-case managed motions.
A party can request a Case Conference before the Case Management Judge if they are running in to any procedural or administrative problems.
The Case Management Judge will request a timetable from the parties. The parties are expected to follow that timetable. The Case Management Judge can issue penalties to a party (ie costs) for failing to adhere to a Case Management timetable.
It’s important to note that the Case Management Judge will NOT be the same Judge who hears the case at trial. The Judge’s job is to cut the red tape so that the case moves through the justice system as efficiently as possible given the complexity of the case, or the amount of parties involved. The Case Management Judge can make any Orders which s/he deems just in order to get the case moving.
If a party isn’t producing a document, the Case Management Judge can order documentary production by a certain date.
The the parties can’t agree to a discovery date, the Case Management Judge can order that the parties complete Examinations for Discovery by a certain date.
Having a Case Management Judge is helpful for a Plaintiff because the Defendant cannot play any of those “delay games” which many Plaintiffs are accustom to seeing. Not all cases are suitable for case management. But there are a few which certainly are, and Plaintiffs and their lawyers should avail themselves of these resources in the right situation.