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Personal Responsibility in a Personal Injury Case

Finding a personal injury lawyer who is knowledgeable, kind, sympathetic, and who will fight hard for you is important.

A good personal injury lawyer will listen, and give you advice to hopefully put you in a better position to move forward.

But, a personal injury lawyer doesn’t live with you.

A personal injury lawyer isn’t there when you go and see the doctor, to tell him/her what’s wrong with you. Nor can a personal injury lawyer force you to see your doctor. Nor can a personal injury lawyer call in a prescription medication on your behalf, attend at the pharmacy to pick it up, and force you to take said medication.

Everyday everyone makes decisions. Some decisions are complicated legal decisions. But other decisions are daily care and everyday decisions which cannot be delegated to another person unless you are a minor or a person who the Court has deemed to be under a disability.

Some decisions are helpful for a personal injury case like making the decision to take your prescription medication, as directed by your doctor; attending at medical appointments and therapy appointments.

Other decisions are hurtful to a personal injury case like not taking your prescription medication, as directed; and skipping out of medical or treatment appointments. Other bad decisions for a personal injury case may include doing things that your doctor said you should not be doing (like bungee jumping after a serious accident, taking a long flight or going on a long vacation without asking your doctor if that’s a wise thing to do).

One way or another, the insurance company and their lawyers are going to find out about these “bad decisions“. The lawyer for the insurance company will find a way to use these bad decisions against you. They will seek to flip the narrative, and try to paint you as a liar, a cheater, a faker, or as someone who is out to defraud the system in order to defeat your claim.

This is not a very good feeling.

An injured accident victim needs to understand that their case will be decided by a Judge, and in all likelihood, a Jury as well.London-Head-Shot-Brian-Goldfinger-201x300

The Jury does NOT want to be there hearing their case. They aren’t getting paid for their role as a Juror. They don’t get a paid lunch. They have to pay to get to the Courthouse (either by transit, or pay for parking). Jurors can certainly walk, or bike to the Courthouse, but I have yet to see a juror actually do so. Unless you live in a small town, this isn’t always possible. They aren’t hearing a high profile criminal case which is in the news (like a murder trial). They are missing work and most employers don’t pay for time missed from work while sitting on jury duty. For a juror, it’s a loose-loose scenario.

The Plaintiff as to present their case as best they can to the Judge and Jury.

The Plaintiff does not get to take the Judge and Jury home with them to show them a “day in the life“. While a personal injury lawyer may retain an expert to compose a “day in the life” video to present to the Jury; the point is that the Plaintiff does not get to take the jurors home with them. The jurors aren’t there to witness how miserable the Plaintiff’s life is when s/he gets out of bed in the morning, until the time they go to bed at night. The jurors aren’t around to witness a Plaintiff tossing and turning because they can’t sleep on account of pain or discomfort.

Getting a group of jurors on board for a Plaintiff case, particularly when there is a subjective pain element involved, is rather difficult. There is a reason why nearly all insurers issue Jury Notices for personal injury cases. They know what industry insiders know. Jurors don’t want to be there, and will seek to punish a Plaintiff for having called them to Court in order to have their case heard before a Jury. Plaintiffs are on a very short leash before a Jury, particularly when dealing with a chronic pain case. If a Plaintiff is not likeable, or not credible, a Jury won’t give them any sort of benefit of the doubt and it will be reflected in the ultimate award.

Knowing this information, it’s important for a Plaintiff to make good decisions. A Plaintiff cannot abscond personal responsibility for making good decisions to another. They must take accountability for their actions or else face the consequences of an unsympathetic legal system which would rather not have their case (meritorious or not), clog down the overburdened legal system.

The insurance industry has been very successful in changing the laws so that personal injury cases don’t get off the ground in Ontario. The government has been open to their demands on account of the promises to reduce insurance rates (which isn’t happening), and to keep cases outside of the legal system so that it can better accommodate cases which the government places more value upon (criminal cases and family law cases). A Plaintiff must come to grips that the Courts have not been set up to hear their cases in a speedy, or for that matter, in a fair way. There are so many rules and laws which are written into the Insurance Act to make recovering for a Plaintiff that much more difficult. We wouldn’t go so far to say that the system is “rigged“, but when taking a step back, and explaining it to a lay person; it’s hard not to leave that conversation thinking that the system is rigged against innocent accident victims, in favour or large, deep pocketed insurance companies.

The best way for a Plaintiff to get ahead is not to shoot themselves in the foot. This means staying away from bad decisions which will have a negative impact on their case. Instead, concentrate on their wellness, rehabilitation, not missing appointments and making good decisions which won’t be frowned upon by a Judge or Jury. Like it or not, everything which a Plaintiff does during the course of litigation is under a microscope and is being judged.


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