Many people who have been hurt or injured in an accident ask me why they should contact a lawyer. What will a lawyer do for me that I cannot do for myself?
The answer is simple. A personal injury lawyer will protect your rights to ensure that your claim is protected and to ensure that you are not taken advantage of by the insurance company opposite your claim.
For many, a traumatic accident such as a high speed car accident or bicycle accident represents the first time that they’ve experienced dealing with a serious personal injury claim. As a first time accident victim, you will not have any idea where to start.
Who do you contact to claim compensation?
Where do you begin to look for medical attention that goes above and beyond our already strained Health Care system after discharge from hospital? Who is going to pay for all of this treatment and all of my out of pocket expenses?
A personal injury lawyer will have all of these answers for you and more. A personal injury lawyer can find the culprit who caused the accident, correspond with the insurance company so that you don’t have to; put you in contact with a network of health care professionals like occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers, speech language pathologists, neuro-psychologists, psychiatrists, psychologists and case managers to assist you in recovering all while ensuring that the insurer is paying the bill for your treatment and not you.
Personal injury law is complex and ever changing.
There are a plethora of forms that accident victims are required to complete. These forms need to be submitted by certain deadlines which only a personal injury lawyer will know. Did you know that you have to report a car accident for which you are claiming accident benefits within 10 days of that car accident? Did you know that you have to provide notice in writing to a municipality within 10 days of an accident on municipal property? Did you know that you have to report an accident on an Ontario Highway within 30 days if you allege the accident occurred due to poor roadway conditions? Did you know that you have to apply for Mediation at the Financial Services Commission of Ontario before you can sue for accident benefits? Probably not. Failure to know this information is the difference between a successful personal injury lawsuit and a failed one.
One of the most important reasons to contact a personal injury lawyer is because they are familiar with the delicate dance between accident victim and insurance company. Insurance companies are in the business of assessing risk and processing personal injury claims just like yours. They have thousands of people who are trained to gather information from you and analyze your claim.
Insurance companies will insist on taking a statement from you, meeting with you at your home and getting you to fill out forms which you probably don’t even understand. The purpose of this is to minimize their risk and liability and ruin your potentially meritorious claim before it even gets off the ground. The assessment people which the insurance company will send to meet with you are paid by the insurance company to minimize your claim. These people will omit important information which can be devastating to a personal injury claim.
One of the worst things I’ve ever seen was a woman who was in a car accident and lost consciousness for 2 minutes following her accident. She sustained a closed head injury. She reported blurred vision, memory loss, a stutter in her speech, headaches, loss of sleep, dizziness, loss of appetite and mood swings. Within a week of her accident she was contacted by her insurance company and she agreed to have a person from the insurance company visit her at her home.
The insurance company failed to mention that the person who was visiting her was an occupational therapist who was going to do an in-home assessment of her needs. The occupational therapist from the insurance company omitted to include any of her head injury symptoms in her report to the insurance company. Later, when these symptoms were reported by the accident victim and her family doctor, the insurer failed to acknowledge that these symptoms even existed because they were omitted in the occupational therapy report prepared by an agent for the insurer.
Later, at trial, on cross examination of the same occupational therapist, she admitted that she did 100% of her work for insurance companies and that she failed to ask the accident victim about any head injury symptoms because she did not think them to be important. How could she possibly think that blurred vision, headaches, dizziness, loss of sleep and mood swings were not important? At trial, the insurer was compelled to pay additional damages to this accident victim for its bad faith claims handling.
Had this accident victim not consulted a personal injury lawyer, she would never have been entitled to any compensation because the insurance company had made every effort possible to conceal all evidence of her accident related impairments.
Finally, there is an old adage saying that a self-represented litigant has a fool for a client. That adage could not be further from the truth, particularly when it comes to personal injury claims. Don’t get hurt twice. Know your rights. Find out more by visiting our informational personal injury website.