A few weeks ago I was in conversation with a person who asked what I did for a living. I told him that I was a lawyer. He thought that was really cool. When he asked what kind of law I practiced; I told him I was a personal injury lawyer and he looked at me with distain. I wasn’t quite sure why.
Practicing personal injury law is the very essence of civil litigation. At the route of it; personal injury lawyers get innocent accident victims fair compensation for their injuries. We Get People Paid. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. I cannot think of a more noble and pure pursuit when it comes to civil litigation.
Every time I hand someone over their settlement cheque, I am helping to stimulate the economy at a grass route level.
Don’t believe me?
A personal injury lawyer is quite literally re-distributing wealth from large, multi-billion dollar insurance companies; trickling down to injured accident victims; many of whom were struggling to make ends meet before the litigation even got started. The money is going from super rich corporations to regular, everyday individuals. Very Robin Hood-esque!
When my law firm hands someone a settlement cheque; they will spend that cheque in so many different ways. You remember when Oprah handed out gifts (like free cars) on her TV show. You Get a Car! And You Get a Car! And You Get a Car! It’s kinda the same thing!
Pay off that lingering credit card debt? Check!
Pay down the mortgage? Yup!
Buy a new car? Sure!
Some new furniture for the house?
How about a down payment on a new home? Yes!
A well deserved vacation? How about a really nice dinner to celebrate?
Or, how investing that money wisely and saving it for a rainy day?
All of the above work! A client is going to spend his/her money as best as they see fit. And regardless of what they spend it on; that money would not have come into their possession but for the hard work of a personal injury lawyer on their case.
Every time I settle a case, and hand someone over a check, it’s akin to getting that client a new car, or a new fleet of cars, or a new home for that matter.
No amount of money will ever make that client whole again, which is completely fair. But that settlement cheque represents so much more than just money.
For some clients, that settlement cheque represents vindication against the Defendant and the insurance company.
For others, it represents an acknowledgment by the Defendant and insurer that they were in the wrong, and that the Plaintiff was in the right.
For others, the settlement cheque represents freedom to get their life back on track.
And still to others, it represents “a big win“; which can bring a great big smile to their face whenever they think about the case. That feeling of winning the case is priceless.
While it’s just money, a settlement cheque represents so much more than just the monetary value of the settlement.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving our clients any of those feelings; or all of the above?
OHIP And Personal Injury Cases
The Provincial Government needs personal injury lawyers in their lives. That seems odd, but it’s true.
In every case not involving a motor vehicle accident, the Minister of Health has a subrogated interest to recover the health care costs in relation to the accident/claim. Each year the Ministry of Health recovers approximately $12 million in health care costs from personal injury claims! This claims are recovered almost entirely by personal injury lawyers doing their jobs.
That means that personal injury lawyers help collect around $12,000,000 annually on behalf of the tax payers of Ontario from large insurance companies to better help the healthcare system. The more which personal injury lawyers are able to recover on personal injury claims on behalf of OHIP; the less burden on the tax payer and the better our healthcare system. And personal injury lawyers aren’t civil servants; yet they are doing the State’s work to get them paid out on these claims.
Personal Injury Lawyers are the definition of Access to Justice
In litigation, the party with the deepest pockets usually wins the case. That party can bleed out the other side by obstructing and delaying justice. They can ramp up the legal costs for the other side using all sorts of delay tactics.
An everyday person, or a person on Ontario Works, ODSP or CPP would not have the money to pay a lawyer’s fees upfront. If they had to go to Court on their own, they would be challenged at navigating their way through the litigation system, let along with onerous Court filing fees and other costs associated with litigation in general. It’s a very expensive process.
If everyone had to pay their way, insurance companies would win their case time and time again. No Plaintiffs, or very few of them would have the money to fight a case.
But because the majority of personal injury lawyers take cases on a contingency fee basis; meaning don’t pay any legal fees unless the case settles; the playing field is more level. It gives people who can’t afford to pay a lawyer’s hourly rate access to a lawyer; and therefore access to justice.
Personal Injury Lawyers so YES to people and their claims. We Believe.
In a world where so many times the answer is “no“; personal injury lawyers say “yes“. We say “yes” to believing in a person’s accident and injuries. We say “yes” to moving their claim forward. We say “yes” to fighting for the rights of innocent accident victims. We say “yes” getting our clients the compensation which they deserve.
Lawyers on the opposite side of the coin are in the business of saying “no“. It’s their job. If they didn’t say “no“, and simply agreed with everything that the personal injury lawyer had to say; they wouldn’t have very much work to do. Nor would they be properly advocating on behalf of their insurer client.
At the end of the day, I sleep much better knowing that I am saying “yes” and getting results on behalf of everyday people; as opposed to advocating on behalf of a faceless insurance company.