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The Three Main Ingredients for a Successful Personal Injury Case in Ontario (plus a bonus one!)

Facts don’t care about your feelings.

Neither does the law.

A Judge’s job is to assess and judge your case. There will be a winner, and there will be a loser. Sometimes, after legal costs and the time invested into a case are taken into consideration, all of the parties will be losers.

Cases are won and lost based on evidence. Contrary to popular belief, cases are not won based on your feelings or emotions. The law is hard on feelings and emotions. The cold, hard, truth which Plaintiffs need to hear is that Courts don’t care much for emotions (even though they say that the will listen); especially if the evidence isn’t there to support the case. Emotions can certainly bolster a case; but they won’t tilt the scales of justice without proper evidence to support the claim.

Evidence are the meat and potatoes of the case. Emotions, and feelings are the seasoning. You can certainly feast on meat and potatoes, but you cannot feast on seasoning alone.

It’s very difficult for an injured accident victim to separate their emotions, from the evidence at hand. This is understandably. Accident victims (for the most part) aren’t lawyers, and have never stepped inside of a Courtroom. They have no idea how the legal system works. Some believe that the party which yells the loudest; or who shows the most emotion before a Judge and Jury having not taking into consideration the evidence required for a successful personal injury case will be the victor. This could not be further from the truth.

In order to win a personal injury case, a Plaintiff must establish three factors:

  1. Liability
  2. Damages
  3. Causation

There is one other cherry on the cake factor which I will tack on to the end of this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post which is more important than your might thing.

Establishing liability means that a Plaintiff needs to show that the party who s/he is suing (the Defendant), is responsible at law for the accident. How a Plaintiff feels on this issue is not very relevant. A Plaintiff might feel that the Defendant is responsible; but those feelings won’t carry much weight in a Court of Law.

Sometimes establishing liability is a simple. Car “A” ran a stop sign and struck Car “B”.

Other times, establishing liability can be rather difficult. The Plaintiff slipped and fell at a grocery store in what s/he believes was a puddle of water.

The Court will want to know if a Plaintiff can in fact prove that s/he fell in a puddle of water. How large was the puddle of water? How did the puddle of water get there in the first place? Did the Defendant grocery store have a reasonable system of inspection in place? The Court will factor in all of these considerations (and more) when assessing liability. It’s important to note that liability is NOT automatic in a personal injury case. Just because you’ve been hurt or injured in an accident, does not necessarily mean that someone else was at fault, or negligent, or responsible for your accident. The cold hard truth is that sometimes accidents happen, through no fault of any other party. Sometimes a Plaintiff is the author of his/her own misfortune. This is the sad reality which Plaintiff personal injury lawyers often see play out.linkedin-2-300x300

The next important ingredient for any successful personal injury case are damages. Damages are injuries or losses, which are compensable at law. If Superman (who is super strong and cannot get hurt) is involved in a car accident, it does not necessarily mean that he will have a successful personal injury case; even though he is not at fault. Superman will need to establish his damages: i.e.: that he sustained an injury which is serious enough, and permanent enough for him to have a successful claim for damages in Ontario. The law cannot compensate you for being inconvenienced, or for being shaken up without getting any medical attention for those injuries. The law is about making the Plaintiff whole; and compensating that person for his/her losses. No losses. Or no injuries? Then there are no damages and there will not be a successful personal injury case; regardless of the carelessness or negligence of the at fault party.

The third and final ingredient for a successful personal injury case is called causation. There needs to be a causal link between the accident, and the injuries. Think of causation as a bridge which connects the accident, to the injuries. If the accident cannot be connected to the injuries, then there will be no personal injury case at all. This is a very important ingredient. Many people can get injured. But if those injuries cannot be tied to the accident; then a Court will have a hard time awarding damages to a Plaintiff because there’s not causal link.

The final ingredient can often be the ingredient which separates a good case from a VERY GOOD case. It’s called likeability or credibility. At the end of the day, court cases are people driven. If the Plaintiff is neither likeable, nor believable; then a Judge and Jury won’t believe what they have to say; they won’t give him/her the benefit of the doubt; and they won’t be as generous to him/her with respect to awarding damages. A Plaintiff can have all of the three main ingredients for a personal injury case right there (liability, damages and causation). But if a Judge and Jury don’t like that Plaintiff, or don’t find them to be credible, then a Plaintiff may have a hard time getting their way; or getting the compensation which they deserve in Court. I will take it one step further. Insurance defence lawyers, and the insurance adjusters who they report to would rather pay a Plaintiff who they find likeable and credible; rather than a Plaintiff who they suspect is trying to pull a fast one on them. If a Defence lawyer knows how to push a Plaintiff’s buttons to get a rise out of them; they will use that to their advantage to make a Plaintiff seem less likeable to a Judge and to a Jury at trial as well.

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